Careers in Policy for Post-PhDs: 5 things you need to know

On the 25th of October, 2017, King’s College London played host to a panel of top policy experts, each of whom holds a doctorate. Hailing from a range of institutions and disciplinary backgrounds, the panelists discussed and took questions on moving into a career in policy after the PhD.

Wishing you could have attended? No fear; we have summarised the 5 things you need to know for policy careers and applications.

1. Need for policy experience:

Some experience in policy can be valuable but it’s just as important to have a breadth of experiences beyond research and teaching. All experience is valuable.

2. The value of a PhD:

The value of your PhD for a role in policy depends on the organisation you are applying for. Do your research before applying. Your PhD will be particularly useful in any role that involves interacting with academics.

3. Selection processes for policy jobs: 

Selection processes for policy roles can vary hugely. Everything from a CV and cover letter to a full multi-stage process. Prepare plenty of strong STAR examples for interview and try to speak to someone in a similar role or organisation.

4. Benefits of leaving academic research for a policy role: 

Leaving academia can bring more security and better rewards, with more regular hours. Promotion can also be easier and you can avoid the ‘echo chamber’ of academia and broaden your horizons and perspectives.

5. Disagreeing with your employers polices or decisions: 

This can happen, especially in civil service jobs. It is possible to make your arguments for a particular policy and their is a great deal of professional pride to be taken in presenting well constructed policy papers, even if your recommendations aren’t adopted.

6. A day in the life:  

There is a great deal of variety in the typical day of somebody working in policy, but there will be many meetings and individual discussions and you will need to be great at reviewing and writing documents as well as presenting. You may find yourself dealing with new tasks, such as finance or operational management, and learning about new systems within your organisation.

If you would like to attend a similar event, with industry experts on post-PhD career options, check out the full schedule of our “Beyond Academia” careers events.

Full details of our panelists: 

Ben Taylor – House of Lords

Ben Taylor currently works as Policy Analyst to the House of Lords Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, and previously worked on the Select Committee on the Licensing Act 2003. Before joining the House of Lords in September 2016, he completed a PhD at King’s College London. His research focused on the history of scientific research and development at the Home Office, and its role in promoting new surveillance and intelligence-gathering techniques in British policing. He has previously worked as an AHRC research fellow at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, in a role that saw him investigate the impact of big data in the age of social media.

Jennifer Stuart – Global Health Security Programme

Jennifer completed a PhD in Immunology and Infection at the University of Cambridge in 2015, where her research focused on mechanisms used by poxviruses to evade the immune system of their hosts. Following her PhD, Jennifer joined the Civil Service Science and Engineering Fast Stream, a cross-government graduate programme to ensure those with scientific skills and experience can support government policy and decision-making. On the Fast Stream she undertook a number of civil service roles, including at the Government Office for Science, and undertook a secondment at The Alan Turing Institute. Jennifer now works at the Department of Health as the Head of Vaccines and Biopreparedness for the Global Health Security Programme.

Mark Ewbank – Department of Communities and Local Government

Mark Ewbank is currently a Senior Policy Advisor at the Department of Communities and Local Government. Mark was previously Senior Clerk of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, Policy & Scrutiny Manager at the City of Westminster and a Research Fellow at the University of Southampton.  Mark read for his doctorate in Public Policy between October 2007 and March 2011 at the School of Government & Society at the University of Birmingham.

Adrian Baker – British Heart Foundation

Adrian is Policy Manager at the British Heart Foundation and former Head of Health and Social Care at techUK.  With more than ten years’ experience straddling policy, research, and strategy, Adrian worked at the Royal College of Nursing on a range of high profile issues and as a policy advisor for the London Health Board, chaired by previous Mayor of London Boris Johnson.  Adrian holds degrees from the London School of Economics, and was awarded the Colt Doctoral Fellowship for his PhD research at University College London into the diffusion of innovations in NHS Trusts.

Tim Marsh – Director at Food Matters (previous Head of Policy at the Women’s Institute).

Tim Marsh, is a Public Health Policy consultant, whose main interests are Obesity, Food Poverty, Agricultural policy and Public Health. His career has included policy roles at the UK Health Forum, National Federation of Women’s Institutes, UK Public Health Association and Child Poverty Action Group, acted as a technical advisor to the World Health Organisation, World Bank and the European Commission. He has been a Trustee of Sustain and the European Public Health and Agriculture Consortium.   He is co-author on over 30 peer reviewed publications.

 

 

PhD Bloggers Wanted

Do you have a personal experience of PhD life you’d like to share with your peers?

Whether it’s dealing with writer’s block, tips and tricks for time management, or just your own unique perspective on the life of a postgraduate research student at King’s – we want to hear from you!

The Centre for Doctoral Studies is looking for contributions to its blog from research students at King’s, on a range of topics including, but not limited to:

  • Starting out as a PhD student
  • Life as an international student
  • Living in London
  • Cultural challenges
  • Time management
  • The writing-up process
  • Study skills and research methods
  • Creative approaches to research
  • The upgrade & Viva
  • Getting published
  • Teaching experience
  • Presenting at conferences
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Life outside the library/lab

This is a great opportunity to practice your communication and engagement skills as well as get your name and research out there. More importantly, sharing personal perspectives from current PGR students can offer other students valuable support and practical insight into the challenges and joys of working towards a doctorate.

To have a post featured on the Centre for Doctoral Studies blog, send your submissions or pitch your ideas to doctoralnews@kcl.ac.uk.

Please note, publication on the CDS blog is at the discretion of its editor. Submissions should not exceed 1000 words.

 

‘Raw Intellectual Horsepower’ – Five lessons for PhDs on Management Consultancy careers

The King’s Careers “Beyond Academia” panels bring together PhD graduates who have ‘Raw Intellectual Horsepower’transitioned out of academia into a range of different industries, to give expert insight into life beyond the academy and the skills and strategy required to make the move. 

The first event of King’s Careers “Beyond Academia” panel season kicked off by looking at the perennially-popular field of management consulting. We were joined by four PhD graduates from a wide range of research disciplines, working in top consultancy firms, who touched on a range of subjects, from applications and adapting to a new work culture, to imposter syndrome and moving past perfectionism. 

Here are the 5 things we learned from the event:

1) Research skills = consulting skills  

Consulting uses many of the skills inherent in working on a PhD: Elinor talked about the analytical skills PhDs and other researchers use to answer complex questions; the resilience required to keep going through a difficult project; and the communication skills needed to be able to talk through tricky solutions. Like academia, consulting is full of cosmopolitan people who are all seeking innovative solutions.

2) Time is of the essence

On the other hand, the pace and variety of consultancy is probably the major difference from working on an academic research project. Chris described the need to not get a 90-95% perfect solution, but having to be content with an 80% correct solution; Nick said that one of the main shifts he got used to at the start was not having a week to work on something, but being expected to have an answer by the afternoon.  The transition from one to the other is hard: it is a very structured profession with people often checking your work

3)  Imposter syndrome cuts both ways

Dealing with the imposter syndrome inherent in coming in to advise long-established business professionals can be challenging; Elinor talked about the internal feedback often being more searching than from the clients. Firms won’t let their consultants go out unless they are very well prepared. See here for an article about how management consultancy started. Nick talked about the advantage of arriving at a client company, as an outsider, and being able to draw together the right people to have the difficult conversations; often these conversations are enough to help the company move on.

4) Know your numbers

Firms like the ‘raw intellectual horsepower’ that PhDs bring, but don’t be surprised if you are hired on a graduate scheme along with undergraduates. While humanities and social science researchers are valued for their ability to be generalists rather than the specialists needed for, for example, healthcare consultancy (Georgie), you have to be aware that it is a numerate discipline (Elinor): practice your mental arithmetic before all interviews!

5) Try, try, and try again

Applications will be unlikely to be successful first time around. One of our panel applied to 30 firms and had one interview. Find a list of firms, come to events to meet with them, tailor your applications and get help from Careers & Employability.

If you would like to attend one of King’s Careers “Beyond Academia” panels, check out the list of future panels here.

The next event looks at moving beyond academia into Pharma Research and takes place on the 8th of November. To book this, or any other panel, click here. Continue reading

Study and research abroad with the Global Research Grant

The Centre for Doctoral Studies and King’s Worldwide are very pleased to announce a call for proposals for the 2017-2018 Global Research Grant.  

This opportunity will provide financial support of up to £2000 to postgraduate research students to undertake a short period of research that also helps to sustain and develop King’s partnerships with international university partners.

Click here to discover the latest events from King's Worldwide and Global Mobility

Click here to discover the latest events from King’s Worldwide and Global Mobility

Requirements

Applications to this grant must demonstrate how the proposed visit and research aligns with one (or more) of the four global themes, as described in the fourth strand of the King’s International Strategy.

1. Defence and Security

2. Global Health

3. Sustainable Cities

4. Culture & Identity

Priority will be given to projects that help deliver the College’s interdisciplinary themes of global significance.

How to apply

To apply for the Global Research Grant, you will need to download and complete the application form at this link. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but will be assessed at the following points in the year:

  • 17th November 2017
  • 26th January 2018
  • 20th April 2018

For full details on the Grant, the application process, and eligibility requirements, go to the King’s Worldwide webpages. All queries should be directed to the Global Mobility Team.

Please note, this funding is not available to support attendance at conferences, for which the Centre for Doctoral Studies offers a separate Conference Fund. Click here for full details on conference funding and how to apply.

 

Post-PhD Careers Case Study: Dr Enrico Fantoni

King’s PhD graduate, Dr Enrico Fantoni

Enrico was a PhD research at King’s 2013-16, working on nuclear brain imaging of inflammation. While at King’s, he undertook several different projects to help him find out more about possible career directions, including time spent in the King’s IP and Licensing team as well as a project with student-led Oxbridge Biotech Roundtable.

Enrico networked his way to a new role within GE Healthcare and was kind enough to tell us more about his role and his career journey below.

  1. Tell us about your new role and the company you are working for?

I work as a Medical Affairs Associate at GE Healthcare. I directly report to the medical director and am responsible for supporting the company marketing strategy with key clinical studies. One study I am working on is a meta-analysis; another a small observational clinical study; and a third is a large international multicentre clinical trial of which I am the lead project manager after only one year at the company.

  1. What do you do day to day?

Of course each day is fairly varied. I write publications and analyse data; I attend conferences where I liaise with ‘Key Opinion Leaders’ and advocacy. There is project management, and interdepartmental liaison. I support the commercial and health economics departments with medical and scientific queries.

  1.  What’s different or similar to your PhD?

Mainly it’s pretty similar. In addition to all the science I learned during my PhD, there’s data analysis, interdisciplinarity, personal management, independence, presentations, and perseverance.  I use my scientific acumen all the time.

  1. Do you have any tips for any other PhDs?

Use LinkedIn! Don’t be shy, keep contacting people whose roles you’re interested in. Exploit your network. Read emails from groups such as Cheeky Scientist. Join LinkedIn groups. Attend webinars. Understand the role you’re interested in well before going to interviews.

Find out more here about different career directions, and support available at King’s.

PGR Careers Panels: Exploring Options Beyond Academia

Researchers meeting with the King’s College London’s specialist careers consultants often ask, ‘What are my options with a PhD?’  What we know is that one way to find out what might work for you is to hear from people with similar backgrounds to yourself, and what they have gone on to do.

Because these case studies are so valuable, King’s Careers & Employability hosts regular panel events for researchers, to provide information and inspiration for people looking to make informed career decisions.

The first panel, on working in Management Consultancy, features four speakers all with PhDs, ranging from Zoology, Neuropharmacology, Physics and Oncology. They have all transitioned into this field, where data analysis, quick insights into solutions and expert problem-solving are all used daily; PhDs are valued for their skills in these areas as well as their subject knowledge.

This specialist Management Consultancy panel takes place on Wednesday 18th Oct, 18:00-19:00 at the Waterloo Campus.

Reserve your place today by clicking the following link: https://kcl.targetconnect.net/leap/event.html?id=4851&service=Careers+Service

For details on future PGR careers panels, in Policy, Pharma, Networking, and Finance, and to reserve your place, see below:

Wednesday 25th Oct, 18:00-19:00, Strand Campus: Policy: https://kcl.targetconnect.net/leap/event.html?id=4853&service=Careers+Service

Wednesday 8th Nov, 18:00-19:00, Guy’s Campus: Research in Pharma vs Academia: https://kcl.targetconnect.net/leap/event.html?id=4857&service=Careers+Service

Wednesday 15th Nov, 18:00-19:00, Waterloo Campus: Networking: https://kcl.targetconnect.net/leap/event.html?id=4859&service=Careers+Service

Wednesday 22nd Nov, 18:00-19:00, Waterloo Campus: Finance: https://kcl.targetconnect.net/leap/event.html?id=4861&service=Careers+Service

 

Job Opportunity for PGRs: Study Skills Leaders

King’s Library Services are looking to recruit King’s PhD students from across the faculties to work as Study Skills Leaders (SSLs).

SSLs provide one-to-one and appointments and drop-ins and contribute workshops as part of the King’s Learning and Skills Service (KLaSS).

For more information about the wider team, please click this link.

Purpose

  • To deliver student-centred additional learning skills support across the University.
  • To provide some or all of: academic/writing/maths/statistics skills support to undergraduate and postgraduate (taught) students in a way that complements other support provided by Library Services.
  • To contribute to the development of blended learning and teaching resources in the areas of academic skills, independent learning and academic writing.

Rates of Pay

  • Weekly one-to-one sessions during term time: £17 per hour, 3-6 hours per week during term time.
  • Drop-in Sessions and developing resources during summer time: £17 per hour
  • Scheduled Workshops £34 per hour (to reflect preparation time)

Start Date & Hours

  •          Start 6/11/2017 (or asap thereafter)
  •          3 – 6 hours per week
  •          Temporary

Specific Vacancies

We would welcome applications from King’s postgraduate (research) students from across the institution to complement the existing team of SSLs.  We would particularly like to recruit SSLs who could provide Maths support but we are looking to make around 12 appointments and would therefore welcome applications from King’s postgraduate (research) students from across the institution to complement the existing team of SSLs.

Application Process

Please read the Job Description and the complete the attached application form at this link and send it, along with a current curriculum vitae, to learningandskills@kcl.ac.uk

Deadline: 27 October 2017, 5pm 

If you have any queries, please contact alistair.morey@kcl.ac.uk.

For more opportunities like this & other ways of enhancing your career, go to the King’s Careers webpages and follow King’s Careers on Twitter @KingsCareers.

PGR Careers Webinars – Autumn 2017

Webinars:

Are you off-campus or too busy at work to come to workshops?  Then webinars might be the answer for you!  Sit at your desk, wherever you are, and ‘attend’, contribute and learn from these online seminars.  Easy booking – just click the registration link.  First one is next week!

Thursday 28th Sept, 12.30-13.30: CVs for academia and outside  

This webinar will help you understand the basic outlines of a CV, whether for academia or outside. ‘Attend’ it sitting at your own computer to find out more and be shown further resources to help you with these tricky application documents.

Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/4970723126602208259

 

Thursday 12th Oct, 12.30-13.30: Using social media for your career research and job applications             

Sites such as Twitter and Linked In are vast repositories of useful career information that can be easily and profitably searched. They’re also excellent ways to raise your profile. Join us to find out how to make the best of what they offer and ensure you are visible to potential colleagues and employers.

Register here:   https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7435609395294389763

 

Thursday 9th Nov, 12.30-13.30: Preparing for job interviews      

How do you prepare effectively for an interview? How can you make sure you stand out and get your case across so that you will be offered the role? Join us for this webinar to gain top tips for your preparation and performance on the big day.

Register here: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/9037851824149995011

 

Thursday 30th Nov, 12.30-13.30: Cover letters/personal statements and applications

How can you make sure your applications secure that all-important interview? Join us from your own desk to look at the language, structure and content you might use to translate your experience into a top-notch application.

Register here:  https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/6419956419857131267

Welcome to our postgraduate community

Congratulations on receiving an offer to study at King’s College London.

King’s is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge, learning and understanding in the service of society, and in doing so we have an outstanding reputation for undertaking cutting-edge research.

We are delighted to welcome you as part of our postgraduate community, working alongside some of the best academics from around the globe, and benefiting from our world-class libraries, resources and professional networks, as well as all the opportunities London has to offer.

We hope you will make use of the wealth of opportunities available to help you develop your personal and professional skills and experience.

As a postgraduate taught student at King’s you will not only be working with some of the world’s best academics, but you may have the opportunity to enhance your degree through study abroad schemes, volunteering, and internship programmes. You will also have access to the wide range of student support services offered by King’s, including careers and employment advice and Wellbeing support. Specialist individual assistance is available through the College’s personal tutor scheme. Your personal tutor will be an academic member of staff from your department and there will be opportunities to meet with them once you have enrolled.

As a postgraduate researcher in pursuit of your doctoral qualification you will receive specialist support from the Centre for Doctoral Studies. This university-wide professional services centre is responsible for ensuring all postgraduate research students are equipped to excel at King’s and beyond. The Centre for Doctoral Studies focuses on four key areas: Funding, Support, Training, and the PGR Community.

If you are keen to meet fellow postgraduates in a social setting, there will be a postgraduate student only party on Thursday 28th September 2017, which is organised through the Student Union and is open to all new and existing King’s postgraduate students. You will also have access to postgraduate-only social lounges and study spaces on each campus.

For doctoral research students, the Centre for Doctoral Studies will be hosting an induction session on Wednesday 27th September 2017. This event aims to welcome all new research students to the postgraduate community and help them settle into life at King’s while giving an overview of doctoral research matters across the university.

Dr Nigel Eady, Interim Administrative Director of the Centre for Doctoral Studies

Prof Kim Wolff, College Head of Postgraduate Taught Studies