Research Careers at the University of Hertfordshire – Visit to the Doctoral College

4465_The-New-Science-Building-University-of-Hertfordshire_01The University of Hertfordshire’s research was very highly rated in the last REF, with several research areas being as good as or better than found at some Russell Group Universities (a summary can be found here). To give just one example, ten percent of all known planets were discovered at the University of Hertfordshire. The University has held the HR Excellence in Research from the European Commission since 2010 and holds the Athena SWAN Bronze award. It provides extensive support to research students and staff. A brand new science building (pictured) will open shortly.

The University groups research into themes – Food, Global Economy, Health and Wellbeing, Heritage, Culture and Communities, Information and Security and Space – and all research conducted at the University must address one of them. Research has a very high profile and features strongly in the University’s strategic plan.

Dr. Susan Grey (Linked In profile here) is director of the Doctoral College and advises PhD students looking for a post-doctoral appointment at University of Hertfordshire to carefully match their career aims against the University’s research strategy. She also notes that there is an increasing tendency towards interdisciplinary research and expects her post-doctoral researchers to be flexible and adaptable.  There is a number of other qualities she looks for in research staff:

  • Awareness of the funding and external environment (especially in connection to quality awards and frameworks)
  • Excellent levels of specialist knowledge
  • An understanding of transferable skills identified within the Researcher Development Framework
  • Autonomy and self-management
  • Strong interest in engagement and impact
  • Being a good team player who also understands how competitive research careers can be
  • A willingness to learn and develop (however successful you may have been so far)
  • High levels of research integrity (it can be to your advantage to bring your understanding of this out in an interview)
  • Willingness to go beyond research and contribute to the life of the University (by sitting on committees and so on) and particularly to take early responsibility for a research student.

In addition to these, like most employers, Dr. Grey expects all applications to be “pristine” with perfect spelling and grammar.

A perspective from a Senior Lecturer

Dr. Kristen Coppin (Linked In profile here) is a senior lecturer at the University, researching the formation of galaxies and supervises a PhD students.  She’s originally from Canada and became interested in working in the UK when spending time at the James Clerk Maxwell Observatory in Hawaii where she worked with several UK scientists. She was attracted to the University because of its reputation in astronomy and researchers there were already part of her professional network.

She regards her success in gaining her post as a result of having a good academic track record (including publications), building her network, having a clear vision of the development of her career and being very enthusiastic about working at the University of Hertfordshire.  She also regards being open to opportunity and being flexible and adaptable as important qualities.

Having recently had her first experience of recruitment she lists the following as things she looks out for:

  • A good understanding of the employer
  • Asking plenty of questions at the interview stage
  • Making presentations in plain English as much as possible
  • Giving presentations that show how your work fits into a bigger research picture
  • Being well networked and able to communicate professionally with colleagues

Kristen said that women in science research should be willing to take a risk and apply for posts that they may not feel fully ready for and that employers appreciate the ambition and willingness to develop that this shows.

She also advised that it’s a very good idea to keep a rolling record of all training, talks, conferences and developmental activities you’ve participated in as these are often difficult to remember when it comes to writing an application.

Finally, asked for her one top tip for post-doctoral selection process, Kristen advised that professional communication skills and especially the ability to relate to an audience outside your own specialism count for a great deal.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Dr. Grey and Dr. Kristen Coppin for their generosity with their time and professional insights

Donald Lush, Careers Consultant for PhD students

PGR Take Time Out

taketimeoutsquareOn 23rd July 2015, the Graduate School, together with King’s Sport, invites you to ‘Take Time Out’ at Honor Oak Park Sports Ground to promote the importance of health & wellbeing among the PGR community.

The event is open to all research students, their supervisors, and postdoctoral staff. Whether staff or student, there are tangible benefits for all of us to adopt life choices that make us fitter, healthier, happier and better equipped to undertake our research and studies successfully.

The afternoon will be an opportunity for students, supervisors and their colleagues to Take Time Out from their research and sample some of the informal sports and activities run by the King’s BeActive programme.

  • Get moving with sports like five-a-side football, touch rugby, table tennis and volleyball
  • Relax with a yoga class or physio/massage sessions
  • Have fun and challenge your friends (or supervisor) to a round of mini golf, the coconut shy, sports day races, and even a gladiator duel!

A BBQ will be serving up food during the afternoon and the bar in the club house will be open for drinks.

It’s going to be a fun, social afternoon where you can try out different sports or just hang out in the sunshine (fingers crossed!) and meet other doctoral students and staff from around the university.

You can register for the event now via the Eventbrite page. This isn’t compulsory, but will give us an indication of how many people to cater for.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Boston Consulting Group – PhD, Medics & Postdocs Careers Event, Thursday 14 May


Thinking about what to do next? Looking for a new opportunity that will challenge and develop you? 
If you’re thinking about the options available to you for the next stage of your career, come to our PhD, Medics and Post Doc careers event to find out what management consulting could offer. Our team at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) includes many who have made the transition from academia to consulting, with backgrounds as diverse as medicine, tendon engineering, game theory, 18th Century literature and the history of art. This event will give you an opportunity to learn what it’s like to be a consultant and what that might mean for you.

Want to learn more?
Sign up to our Careers Event designed especially for PhDs, Medics and post-docs. The event will include an opportunity to meet our PhDs and Medics to discuss what the transition was like for them, and to hear about their experiences over drinks and nibbles.

  • Date: Thursday 14 May 2015
  • Location: Holborn Bars, 138-142 Holborn, London, EC1N 2NQ
  • Time: 7.00pm-9.00pm

To attend the Careers Event, please register your interest via the following link –

Please note that space is limited and the link will close once spaces have been filled.  Once you register, we will send you confirmation of your attendance nearer the date of the event.

To find out more about BCG careers for those with advanced degrees, please visit Applications for full-time positions will open in September 2015.

We look forward to meeting you soon.

Advanced Degree Recruiting Team
The Boston Consulting Group

About BCG
BCG is a global management consulting firm and the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. We partner with clients from the private, public, and not-for-profit sectors in all regions to identify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges, and transform their enterprises.