You might have assumed that the Careers and Placements team at the University is primarily focused on undergraduate students, but we are here to support research students too. My role as a careers consultant is dedicated to working with postgraduate students and I’d like to explain how we offer support, whilst drawing on some of the research I’ve done into career paths of doctoral graduates.
In the early stages of a doctorate, academia tends to be the preferred career path for many, but this preference takes a downward trend over the course of the doctorate, especially for part-time students (Hodges et al, 2012; Turner, 2015). Analysis of doctoral graduates’ first career destinations typically shows that fewer than 50% are working in the higher education sector, with the remainder working in other sectors (Haynes et al, 2009; Mellors-Bourne et al, 2013; Ball et al, 2014, Bryan & Guccione, 2018).
Those of you planning an academic career as your goal will typically find the advice, support and development opportunities that you need from your supervisor, department or doctoral training centre, but Careers and Placements may still be able to help you. We often advertise part-time internships, employment and volunteering opportunities that can be a great way to develop your professional skills. These have included research, tutoring and student and academic support roles, which research students have often applied for and enjoyed
However, if you are planning a career outside academia, or your plans change during your doctorate, you will find that we advertise a broad range of opportunities for paid and voluntary roles in diverse sectors to help you build the experience you need. PhD graduates frequently report that time spent engaging with ‘extra-curricular activities’ such as work placements, teaching and public engagement activities helped them to transfer into graduate roles and understand different organisational cultures and work environments (Bryan & Guccione, 2018).
To give you an insight into different employment sectors we run recruitment fairs in the autumn term and host a variety of employers and alumni at events such as skills workshops, insight events and sector based panel Q&A sessions. In addition, over 1100 York alumni have completed profiles about their career paths, including many doctoral graduates, and some are happy to answer questions or to be a mentor for you. You can search the profiles by department, employment sector, highest qualification and country www.york.ac.uk/careers/profiles.
To help you research your options we have created careers web pages specifically for research students on the York Graduate Research School website. This includes information about career options in academia and other sectors, how to build skills and experience beyond your research, advice on job search, applications and interviews and a section on global careers.
However, whether you’ve already done lots of research into your options, or you’re just starting out, sometimes it’s helpful to talk to someone and this is when impartial careers advice can be helpful. I’ll discuss this in Part 2 of this blog, coming shortly.
Ball C , Diamond A, Vorley T, The Impact of Doctoral Careers, 2014, UKRI, CFE Research
Bryan B and Guccione K, 2018, Was it worth it ? A qualitative exploration into graduate perceptions of doctoral value, Higher Education and Development, 37.6, 1124-1140, DOI:10. 080/0729436
Haynes K, Metcalfe J & Videler T, 2009, What do researchers do? First destinations of doctoral graduates by subject, The Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC)0.2018.1479378
Hodges V, Jackson C & Mellors-Bourne R, 2012, What do researchers want to do? The career intentions of doctoral researchers, Careers Research & Advisory Centre (CRAC) Ltd
Mellors-Bourne R, Metcalfe J & Pollard E, 2013, What do researchers do? Early career progression of doctoral graduates’ published by The Careers Research and Advisory Centre (CRAC) Ltd
Turner, G, 2015, PRES 2015: The Research Student Journey, HE Academy