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.

Queen Mary University of London’s Graduate Festival

QMUL logoQueen Mary University of London’s PhD Grad Fest steering committee are organising an exciting range of cross-disciplinary events as part of our Graduate Festival next week from Monday 8th – Friday 12th June. We’d like to extend a warm welcome to doctoral researchers at King’s College London to the events listed below.

Click on each event to find out more and then register on eventbrite for whatever takes your fancy. All the events are being held at QMUL’s Mile End Campus. We look forward to seeing you there!

Grad Fest Launch
Monday 8th June 5-6.30pm, Bancroft Building Foyer
Exhibition of ‘Research Through a Lens’ Photography Competition shortlisted photographs.
Please register here.

Film Screening of ‘Here is Always Somewhere Else‘
Monday 8th June, 7-9pm, Arts 1 Lecture Theatre.
Screening of documentary by Dutch filmmaker Rene Daalder.
Please register here.

Performing Urban Archives
Wed 10th June 10-6.30pm Arts Two: Film & Drama Studio
An interdisciplinary exploration of the city-as-archive in order to open up alternative urban imaginaries.
Please register here.

The Art of Peer Review (A&H)
Wednesday 10th June 12noon-1pm, Bancroft 1.08.
Panel session sharing best practice regarding journal submissions, receiving peer reviews and being a peer reviewer.
Please register here.

Collaborative Research with Museums
Wednesday 10th June 2-4pm Engineering 207.
Gain an insight into the museum sector and learn how to do collaborative research with cultural organisations.
Please register here.

Speed-Networking for Researchers
Wednesday 10th June5-7pm, Bancroft 3.40
Meet other researchers over drinks in fun and past-paced networking session!
Please register here.

How can we save our rivers?
Thursday 11th June 9.30-5.30pm, Geography 220.
Workshop and field trip on sustainable water management.
Please register here.

Publishing a Monograph
Thursday 11th June 11-12.30pm, Bancroft 1.02.6.
Commissioning Editor from Routledge talking about how to turn your thesis into a book.
Please register here.

Interdisciplinary Research: What are the Opportunities and Challenges?
Thursday 11th June 3-6pm, Arts Two SCR.
Come and discuss the pleasures and pains of interdisciplinary research.
Please register here.

Winning Words: Making Yourself Heard
Thursday 11th June 4-6pm, Bancroft 1.13
Interactive panel discussion with five academics on writing for the wider public.
Please register here.

Fusion: Multidisciplinary Conference
Friday 12th June 9.30am-12.45pm, Bancroft 1.15
Listen to fast-paced research presentations in Pecha Kucha format.
Please register here.

Question Time Debate Hosted by the Doctoral College
Friday 3-5pm Bancroft 1.15
Panel debate with high-profile speakers on the future of higher education.
Register here.

The full #QMULGradFest programme is available here: https://qmulgradfest.wordpress.com/

If you have questions or want to get in touch, please email QMULgradfest@gmail.com