Scientists & Co. are recruiting volunteers!

Scientists & Co. will be running two sessions of the ‘Shadow a Scientist’ (SAS) programme in July-August 2017.

Aim of the Programme 

Our goal is to increase the social mobility of highly motivated 16-18 year old pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme involves a 2-day shadowing experience with researchers at King’s and taster sessions/ skills-based workshops. We aim to boost the pupils’ confidence in breaking cultural barriers and inspire them to pursue STEM subjects at university.

Who are we looking for?

  • Enthusiastic shadow volunteers (PhD students/postdocs working in science, technology, mathematics and engineering), who are willing to be shadowed on 25th July, 26th July, 1st Aug and/or 2nd Aug 2017. Each volunteer will be assigned 2-3 pupils for 5 hours each day. You will be expected to carry on with your normal schedule but with our enthusiastic 16 years olds by your side!
  • Volunteers to help with the CV/Personal Statement Clinic on the 27th July and 3rd Aug 2017 at Guy’s campus. Each volunteer will be required to read and provide inputs on a short CV/Personal statement (~150 words) of 2-3 pupils.

Key Dates

  • Deadline for applications: 17th Feb 2017 (All volunteers selected for the programme will be notified on 20th Feb)
  • DSB Check/ Induction: 23rd Feb 14:00 – 15:30 or 1st March 14:00 – 15:30 at Guy’s Campus. Compulsory for all (and only) shadow volunteers.

What do volunteers gain?

This is a fantastic opportunity to help deserving pupils while honing your science communication and engagement skills. Your efforts will go a long way in increasing their chances of getting into university!

If you are interested in volunteering please click here to apply. If you have any questions, please email us at support@scientistsandco.org.

To view details of the previous sessions and volunteers’ testimonial, please click here and to read pupils’ testimonials click here.

Oct 2016_SAS pics 010 SAS July 2016  002

Share your Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) experience

joeattard-profile

Joe Attard, GTA Rep for Arts, Humanities, SSPP and Law

My name is Joe, and I am the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Rep for Arts, Humanities, SSPP and Law. I run a regular open meeting in which GTAs are invited to discuss their experience of teaching and how it can be improved. 

The next meeting will take place at 12:00 noon on Monday, 21 November 2016, in room K-1.14, King’s Building, Strand Campus. Please RSVP here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1804085759807771/ 

If you have any issues with pay, working conditions or your relationship with your convener/supervisor, please do come along to discuss these matters and I’ll do my very best to help.

This is also a good opportunity to meet and chat with other GTAs, share experiences and find ways to help one another as colleagues.

Alternatively, if there is anything you wish to raise privately, send me an email at joseph.attard@kcl.ac.uk. All correspondences will be treated as confidential.

Scientists & Co. are recruiting volunteers!

Scientists & Co., a non-profit organisation, are running the Shadow a Scientist programme for a second time after a successful pilot this July.

Aim of the Programme  

The aim is to increase the social mobility of highly motivated 16-18 year old pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. It involves a 2-day shadowing experience with researchers at King’s and taster sessions/workshops delivered in collaboration with KCLSU and the King’s Widening Participation department. We aim to boost the pupils’ confidence in breaking cultural barriers and inspire them to pursue STEM subjects.

To view details of the July session and volunteers’ testimonials, please click here, and to read pupils’ testimonials, click here.

Who are we looking for?

  • 20 enthusiastic volunteers (ideally PhD students/postdocs working in science, technology, mathematics and engineering) who are willing to be shadowed on the 25th-26th October 2016. Each volunteer will be assigned two pupils for 5 hours each day. You will be expected to carry on with your normal schedule but with two enthusiastic 16 year olds by your side!
  • 10 volunteers to help with the CV/Personal Statement Clinic on the 27th October 2016 at Guy’s campus. Each volunteer will be required to read and provide input on short CV/Personal statements (~150 words) for 2-3 pupils.

Please note: All volunteers will be required to attend the ‘Meet & Greet’ session on 24th October where lunch will be provided. They will also need to go through a DBS check and a very short (~45 mins) safeguarding training course in the first week of October.

What do volunteers gain?

This is a fantastic opportunity to help deserving pupils while honing your science communication and engagement skills. Your efforts will go a long way in increasing their chances of getting into university!

If you are interested in volunteering please click here to apply. If you have any questions, please email us at support@scientistsandco.org.

APPLICATION DEADLINE 25th SEPTEMBER 2016

Career Skills: Networking

Guest post from Aimee Wilde, Employer Engagement Officer, King’s Careers & Employability

At some point we’ve probably all been told to ‘network’ and nodded our heads along like we know what this means. But do we actually? Is it really that simple as walking into a room and collecting a load of emails? Not quite – but it is achievable and can be very valuable.

If you’re considering a move from academia to industry, then networking is your No.1 tool. It’s a great way to start researching about non-academic professions, and speaking with people who have already transitioned into commercial roles can be a lot more useful than reading a company website. On top of this, it gives you the opportunity to learn the jargon associated with your chosen industry. Employers want to hire ‘work-ready’ people wherever possible, and knowing the lingo can make it seem like you’re halfway there.

So how do you network well? Take a look at the tips below and see what results come from putting them into action.

1) Start early

You will not find your dream job overnight. Okay, a few people might, but this is unlikely and it’s better to start planning early. If you know you’re going to be finishing your PhD in a year’s time, start making friends in the right places now. And once you start, don’t stop! Maintaining a strong professional network is something that will help develop your career throughout your working life.

2) Be direct

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. One of the most effective networking techniques is to make contact with senior management at places you’re interested in working at. Of course, spamming emails to hundreds of CEOs is not productive – but a carefully crafted email to the right manager can get you noticed.

NOTE: If you’re thinking, ‘but managers never have their emails on company websites’ – you’re right, they often don’t. But they aren’t gold-dust either! It’s pretty straightforward to ‘guestimate’ someone’s work email address and even easier to find it on their LinkedIn profile.

3) Don’t talk just about your PhD

This might be a hard pill to swallow. Yes, you’re spending your life immersed in this and it is a hugely valuable asset (see below), but employers will also be keen to hear about other experiences. Can you demonstrate that you’re a self-starter outside of your degree? This doesn’t have to be completely unrelated to your university life and a great example could be establishing a society. By mentioning this, you show employers that you can use initiative within a variety of contexts.

4) If you have to talk about your PhD, repackage it

Okay, okay, this is exaggerative – of course you are going to want to (and should) talk about your studies. But when you speak to those outside the academic world, consider your audience carefully. Unless you’re planning on going into a niche industry, the specialist knowledge you’ve gained during your PhD isn’t of much interest to employers.

So what is? ALL the skills you’ve acquired along the way. We’re rarely taught to contemplate the new attributes we gain, but this is the most important thing you can do to market yourself well. Resources such as StrengthsFinder 2.0 can help you achieve this and make sure you stand out amongst an academic crowd.

5) Set clear goals

Networking isn’t the elusive art it’s made out to be. Like most things, it can be made more attainable by establishing goals. Qualify and quantify what you want to achieve! Next time you’re at a networking event, decide before what information you need; are you looking for guidance on getting an internship? Do you need to know what skills are most important in a certain industry? Giving thought to this will mean you’re able to ‘chat with a purpose’ and not end up on a tangent far from your original goal.

It’s also a good idea to consider how many people you want to connect with whilst at an event. It’s always going to be impossible to speak with everyone in the room, and it can be very easy to get engrossed in one conversation. Aim to building meaningful relationships with three or four people within an evening and be strategic about this – find out who’ll be attending and who’ll be most useful for you to engage with.

6) Follow up

Collecting business cards might make for a fun side-activity at conferences, but on its own it has no utility. Don’t sit by your phone waiting for the interesting manager you spoke to last week to call. They probably aren’t going to, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t. Reach out to the contacts you make regularly and they will remember you over other people that they meet. Then when a suitable opportunity arises, you’ll be one of the first people they call.

7) LinkedIn is your friend; realise it!

A lot of people don’t seem to like LinkedIn. ‘Oh, but LinkedIn isn’t for academics’ I hear you say. This isn’t true, and even if it was, it doesn’t matter because it is for professionals. Dirk Kruger, who studied a PhD in Bioengineering and Biomedical Engineering at KCL, was approached for a position through the site and is now employed as Executive Editor at BioMed Central. He therefore views it as a ‘valuable career tool’ and advises anyone looking to move away from academia to ‘get LinkedIn savvy’.

LinkedIn’s chief purpose is for networking, not for plain job-hunting. I’ve recently spoken to a number of PhD students and post-docs who consider the job function to be useless and often this is the case. It isn’t the best job board but this doesn’t mean that its other uses should be discredited too. Utilise it to keep new contacts warm, and to gain further insight into sectors that interest you. Joining relevant groups can be a great way to raise your profile and gain industry relevant knowledge.

If you’re a bit of a LinkedIn novice, don’t panic – you can learn more about how to use this site through our Grad School webinar series which can be accessed here.

8) ‘Be kind and be useful’

According to Barack Obama, these are the two things you should do in life to get ahead. It might seem at odds with the cut-throat corporate world you’re trying to break into, but remembering this whilst networking is important. Audacity is admirable up to a point, and then it’s just a bit annoying. We’ve all been at events where people have hounded speakers, and whilst we all remember them, it’s not necessarily for the right reasons.

Helping other people get what they want can really help you in getting what you want. Next time you meet a useful contact, consider how you could be useful to them. Do you know someone who might be able to help them with a problem they currently have? Is there an article that you read recently which relates to their work? Spread the love and see how it quickly comes back to you.

Case Study: post-doc in Law

Katherine in her office

Katherine in her office

I am a Post-Doctoral Research Associate at the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics in King’s College London Law School. I started in September 2015. I have joined a team of four other post-docs and two principal investigators and together, we work on a Wellcome Trust funded project about the law and ethics of the donation of reproductive materials.

The Project:

The research has two principal investigators, Professor Rosamund Scott at King’s and Professor Stephen Wilkinson at Lancaster University. Three of the post-docs are attached to King’s Law School and two are attached to the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at the University of Lancaster.

The project considers the ethical framework for the donation and transfer of human reproductive materials (such as eggs and sperm), coupled with the implications of this framework for clinical practice, law, policy, and regulation.

We have a website and a twitter!

The Job:

My job is research intensive. I teach one module on Medical Law in the Law School and the rest of my time is taken up with research for the project. All of the post-docs research different topics on the grant, covering areas such as uterus transplants, mitochondrial donation, gamete donation and artificial gametes. My current focus is on surrogacy and I work towards publications in that area. That means most days I am reading, formulating ideas for papers and of course, writing. We are encouraged to disseminate the research and attend conferences to present our papers. This year I am applying to a number of conferences in the UK and Europe to present my research findings. In previous years, the post-docs have gone to Mexico and the US to present their work at major bioethics conferences.

In addition, the group itself have “Work in Progress” seminars where we gather with some other academics in the field to discuss our ongoing papers. At the last “WIP”, I co-presented on a topic with another post-doc from my office. That’s the benefit of being in a research group like ours, we get great feedback from the PIs, each other and get the chance to work on papers together. The three King’s post-docs share an office in Somerset House which is not only a beautiful setting, but gives us a great opportunity to thrash out ideas with one another.

How to get a post-doc in law?

I think post-docs in law are quite rare but I think in order to be successful in applying for such a post, you have to show that you are committed to publishing and presenting your research findings. If you are interested in doing a post-doc, be sure to try and build up a few publications and a range of conference presentations during the PhD process. I think evidence that you have networked with experts in your area is also important.

Is a post-doc for you?

I love my job! I knew I would before I accepted it because I love to research and to write. I enjoy the process of reading and developing ideas for papers. When the ideas start to flow and my ideas for papers start to develop, I find the process of writing very enjoyable. I also enjoy the experience of having two expert PIs who give me feedback as I progress and the opportunity to regularly present work with the entire team at WIP meetings. The opportunity to give papers at all kinds of conferences around the world is a real drive for my research.

The perk of my job is that my research time is protected. Because my job under the Wellcome Trust grant is to produce research, I have less responsibilities in the areas of teaching and administration. However, I am still getting fantastic teaching experience and am really enjoying my contact hours with students. It provides a nice balance to the research time to have interaction with students about class material and their dissertations!

My advice is to only do a post-doc if you think that it sounds like the perfect job for you! There will be long hours of reading and independent research, as well as discussion of your work and presentation of your findings. It will be different to a lectureship with all the contact hours and interaction with staff and student which that entails. I was lucky that I am also teaching, but some post-docs might have very little teaching requirements. I think post-docs are a great way to build up one’s research skills and profile. In some cases, you may be lucky enough to get some teaching experience. But all in all you have to be sure it’s right for you! Good luck!

With thanks to guest blogger Dr Katherine Wade, PGR Careers Liaison Lead for the Dickson Poon School of Law