Arts & Humanities PhD Case Studies: the other side of academia

This interview, and the others to follow over the next few weeks, are with the employers represented at the recent King’s College London Arts & Humanities PhD careers event. They have been written by PhD candidate Valeria Valotto, to whom we are very grateful!

From Cultural Studies and Media Phd to Academic Services Research: the other side of Academia

Dr. Laura Speers

Current position: Laura is Post-Doctoral Associate at Queen Mary University London. She works in the Post-Graduate Training and Knowledge Exchange Unit.

Starting point:

I received a BA in Philosophy at the University of Newcastle. Prior to beginning my PhD at King’s, I studied for an MA in Telecommunications at Indiana University.

First turn – Temporary Research Position

Immediately after finishing my PhD I was not sure whether I should pursue an academic career. I got a temporary research position through my supervisor. This was at 53 Million Artists, a collaborative project between KCL Cultural Institute and an external organisation. My role involved helping shape the research agenda of the project, synthesising academic and policy literature for research reports, and devising evaluation activities to assess project progress.

Second turn – Post-Graduate Training and Knowledge Exchange Unit

My position, for which a PhD is a requirement, entails researching, developing and co-ordinating the delivery of research training and knowledge exchange activity for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences as an associate member of the London Arts and Humanities Partnership (LAHP), which is an AHRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP). The role involves the planning, programming, organisation and delivery of knowledge exchange activities by working closely with academic Schools, external partners and cultural institutions both in London and overseas.

I am very happy with the change. This postdoc position offers the best of both worlds (academia/outside) as I’m still in Higher Education so have university affiliation and library access (I’m in the process of publishing my PhD). I’m doing something new by applying my PhD experience and knowledge to researcher training and development. Researcher development is satisfying because it’s people-focused and you’re making a direct difference to the working lives and experiences of PhD students and ECRs.

How did you make it?

I encourage a twofold strategy to career transitions: hunting for information on the short run and chasing one’s interests and passions on the long run. Before applying for jobs I would make sure to shadow and interview people in that position, to understand better what the role implies. My active participation to extra-curricular activities led me to discover Post-graduate Training. As a PhD student I attended training sessions, which gave me the opportunity to understand the importance of Postgraduate Training and to understand how this service could be improved. At King’s I was Humanities PhD Students Representative, in such a capacity I organised workshops and gained valuable experience in chairing meetings and events. This made me realise that I enjoyed managing people and facilitating ideas exchanges. I had been cultivating these skills since her time at Indiana University, where I was an associate instructor, research assistant and served on the Graduate and Professional Student Organization (GPSO) committee.

For an in-depth interview to Laura and for pratical tips about how she made the transition, see the following article on King’s Careers Blog.

King’s Cultural Challenge 2014 is underway!

Next Wednesday, 19th February, the King’s Cultural Institute will be holding the first of their workshops to help you develop your ideas, and bring you a step closer to winning a paid internship with the Royal Opera House, the Southbank Centre, the V&A and the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Come along to the workshops, where staff from these four organisations, as well as professional facilitators, will be there to talk to you about your ideas and what it’s like to work in the world of the arts and culture.

Open Space workshop
When: Wednesday 19 February 2014, from 15.30  
Where: River Room, King’s Building, Strand Campus
What: This workshop is a chance for students to further explore the Challenge question in a collaborative and conversational format, and to begin to build their own ideas. Further information to follow. If you would like to participate in this workshop please RSVP to by Friday 14 February. Include your name and department at King’s.

Ideas Lab
When: Wednesday 26 February 2014, 18.30 – 20.30  
Where: Anatomy Museum, King’s Building, Strand Campus
What: This workshop is a chance for students to develop and refine their responses to the Challenge question. Further information to follow. If you would like to participate in this workshop please RSVP to by Friday 21 February. Include your name and department at King’s.

To register and request your place, please email

Knowledge Producers Internship (Shobana Jeyasingh Dance)

An internship has been developed to support the research, production and realisation of Shobana Jeyasingh’s work as well as marketing and publicity of that work with creative engagement with audiences and participants. The intern will gain skills through the presentation of new and existing projects and support experienced artists and producers to ensure the best possible experience from performances.

Dates and duration
Part-time, 2 days per week. Starts 24th February 2014 and ends 16th May 2014.

The stipend is to be agreed between the intern and the King’s Cultural Institute following recruitment.

Application deadline
Monday 10th February 2014, 5pm. Interview date: 17th February 2014

Click here for full details and how to apply

Welcome to Happy Redoubt – Volunteers Needed

HappyRedoubtWelcome to Happy Redoubt is a brand new interactive exhibition by artist duo Juneau Projects, taking place in the Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing throughout November and December 2013.

The project imagines a future world in the wake of a technological meltdown, where visitors to the encampment will create and trade artefacts like pottery or jewellery, gain skills for a new world and help shape a new future.

We need enthusiastic student volunteers to help populate the installation throughout the duration of the show. We already have a small population, but really want to bring the encampment to life!

You will be one of the faces of the installation, engaging the public with activities, explaining rules to games, helping set up and run arts & crafts activities and talking about the events programme.

Since the exhibition is an immersive experience, you will inhabit the space as characters from the encampment, so you’ll need to be familiar with the story of the apocalypse and to provide information to visitors in character. The artistic team will be on hand to help develop characters and to ensure that you’re comfortable with your role.

The exhibition is open for 6 weeks, from Wednesday 6 November until Sunday 15 December, and we need you for some of these shifts­ you can sign up for as many as you like:

– Wednesdays ­12­ to 4pm and 4­ to 8pm

– Thursdays to Sundays ­12­ to 3pm and 3­ to 6pm

If you’re interested please email Alex Willumsen at UP Projects

Welcome to Happy Redoubt is a King’s Cultural Institute commission, in partnership with UP Projects.

King’s Cultural Institute –

LAST MINUTE Internship Opportunity: Marketing Intern for Inside Out Festival 2013

The Culture Capital Exchange is looking for a marketing intern to work on the Inside Out Festival 2013.

The main focus of the internship is to work in partnership with our PR consultants to support the marketing of the festival, in particular via all relevant social media sources.  The post will also involve some event management and administration duties. The internship is based in TCCE’s offices at Somerset House and will run from 9th September to 31st October.  A weekly allowance of £100, plus travel and meal allowance will be paid.

Essential attributes

  • Proven experience of using social media to promote cultural events
  • Excellent written and spoken English
  • Event management / administration experience
  • A positive and enthusiastic attitude

Please apply by sending a CV and covering letter to Suzie Leighton at by 4pm on Friday 9th August.  Interviews will be held at Somerset House on 14 / 15thAugust.