For the second year running, the annual Randall retreat started with a careers day aimed at PhD’s and postdocs. There was a wide variety of talks including insights into consulting, teaching, startups and entrepreneurship.

Consulting (Oliver Wyman and Deloitte)

Thinking about leaving academia? How about a career in consulting? Elinor, Nacho and Abinav explained what it entails:

  • Consulting involves providing expert advice to a wide variety of clients
  • Benefits: Flexible career paths, collaborative environment
  • Skills required: data handling and problem solving, confident with presenting

Entrpreneurship (Andrei Luchici)

After completing his PhD, Andrei had the desire for his work to make an immediate impact. Since he loved solving problems but couldn’t quite find his niche, he made a bold move and set up his own company, Dacian Consulting.

  • Benefits: Starting your own business means you are your own boss!
  • What is required: courage and patience (lots of it), being able to hunt for funding and contracts

Policy British council (Claire McNulty)

Claire detailed her varied career, after a post-doc she moved into scientific publishing, ending up as the Director of Science at the British Council. Here are a number of exchange and funding opportunities open to PhD students:

  • Exchange placements for UK PhD students to collaborate with Chinese universities
  • FameLab a competition for scientists to present their research in 3minutes

Teaching (Jessica Hamer, Katie Danaher and Anita Hall)

Representatives from the Institute of physics (IoP) and Researchers in schools (RiS)outlined the routes available to PhD graduates in becoming secondary school teachers. The IoP gives scholarships to eligible candidates in order to undergo a one year PGCE course, leading to qualified teacher status (QTS), whilst the RiS is a 2-3 year programme allowing PhD graduates to spend time in schools and one day a week pursuing their research interests through extra-curricular activities.

  • Benefits: scholarships are available from the IoP and RiS is a salaried programme
  • Teaching is an “incredibly rewarding” albeit challenging job
  • Working as a teaching fellow (Anita Hall) may give you the opportunity to move in-between teaching and research.

Biotechnology and Startup

Sybil Wong gave an informative and detailed insight into the ups and downs of working at a tech startup (Sparrho), whilst Robert Young (Lonza) talked about his work in a biotech company.

  • In a startup with very few employees, you can play a larger role in the day-to-day running of the company and a fancy title, however, job security isn’t great
  • Working in industry can still allow you to collaborate with academia
  • You can see how basic biology leads over time to product development

Final tips

  • Don’t be put off if you don’t get the job you applied for in the first instance, Claire McNulty got a call for another position soon afterwards-you never know!
  • Network network network! You never know how connections can help you in the future
  • Keep your eyes on the grad school blog, there are many careers spotlight events coming up!

picture2 Networking with Sybil Wong after the careers talks

by Roksana Nikoopour