By Amber Inman, MSci Physics, Department of Physics
When I first started KCL I assumed that by the end of my degree I’d obviously have a detailed career plan all set out and ready to go. As I approach the last few months of my final year, it seems somewhat unlikely that this assumption is going to become a reality. I have only the vaguest of ideas about what I’m going to do in the long term but honestly I’m quite glad about that. I know that my experiences at King’s have provided me with a solid grounding in the area I want to end up in: I’m confident in the skills I’ve acquired and I’m excited to see where they’ll take me.
One of the things I’m most glad I did, and would recommend to anyone interested in further study, was to ask one of my lecturers for a voluntary project over the summer. Working in a real research environment provided me with an insight I couldn’t have got from course modules alone. I found that overall, research is something that really appeals to me. I think the only way to know if you will actually enjoy doing something is to try it and sometimes you might be surprised. Even if you don’t love it as much as I did, I’ve found that it’s often just as valuable to find out that something is not for you. As part of that summer, I got to attend a three day symposium consisting of talks on the cutting edge of research in a field that fascinates me. Not only did this increase my awareness of possible areas of interest, it also meant I got to meet a lot of people at the forefront of that research.
I think to get the most out of King’s in terms of careers it’s really important to get involved. By joining relevant societies and getting to know the researchers in the department you get to hear about so many opportunities that might have otherwise passed you by. Networking is an important part of career progression and I think one of the best things about KCL is that it gives you so many platforms to engage with professionals in your field of interest. I’ve found really helpful to attend as many career focused events as possible. Whether that’s it something like the NMS postgraduate study fair or more casual gatherings such as the ‘Pizza with Postgrads’ evening which was organised by the Women in Physics Society. I found the latter particularly insightful – hearing honest accounts about the overall postgraduate study experience has made me feel a lot more confident about what to expect both in terms of the application process and day to day lifestyle. Another reason to get involved in the department is that it’s an excellent was of finding out about jobs you didn’t even know existed – for this I particularly like the Maxwell Lectures which have been going on since the 1950s. The series invites members of the scientific community to give talks on everything from current research to industry advancements and science communication. Attending these lectures made me aware that there are so many different paths within science, and perhaps that’s why I don’t feel too concerned about having not settled on just one yet.