CDT student Michael Greaves highlighting how beneficial he's found the career support that's available
In the 2nd year of my PhD, the CDT arranged for my cohort to have a seminar with Elizabeth Wilkinson, careers advisor at the university. I found that she gave me a much better understanding of the post-doctoral job market, this was followed up with a 1-to-1 meeting with her, in which she helped clarify a lot of the things I had been thinking about, and gave me some useful advice to improve my CV.
When the university closed due to COVID-19, I couldn’t do much PhD work, so I took the time to attend lots of online seminars hosted by both the university careers service and the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) careers service. Attending lots of these, it became easy to see the most important points that would be raised every time, but it was also helpful to see differences in the sector-specific advice. I would highly recommend attending seminars which are specific to the sector you want to go into.
Equipped with the insights the careers service gave me, I started to investigate the job market. The most useful tools I’ve used so far are LinkedIn (for both networking and job search alerts) and websites of professional bodies, such as the RSC or the Graphene Council. If you want to work with graphene in industry for instance, you can just go on the Graphene Council’s website and look through their list of partners to see if there’s a company that would suit you.
Completely out of practice, another valuable experience I had recently was applying for a job. It wasn’t a job I particularly wanted, so going through the application process was like a no-risk practice, and it has greatly calmed my nerves for when I apply to more appealing positions!
Above all though, I would repeat the cliché of stressing the importance of your network! Regardless of all the efforts I’ve made to better understand the job market and application processes, my most promising opportunities have come from people I know. Do your best to meet new people and make a good impression, then keep in contact with them enough so that one day, when they or their boss wants to employ someone, you're one of the people they think to message.