April Newsletter for PGRs

The Romans called April Aprilis.  No one is sure the exact meaning of the word. Some scholars think that it may be related to an old Italic word meaning “the following, the next”, in a sequence of events. Old folk interpretations link it to the Latin aperire (think ‘aperture’ on a camera) “to open”  – referring the opening of buds and blossoms in Spring.

Either interpretation is apt with Pathways on the horizon – our annual event to help PGRs take the “next” step: many of you may now be wondering what will “follow” your doctorate,  and perhaps on the lookout for “openings” and opportunities.

Pathways 2017

Pathways 2017. Preventative medicine for post-PhD headaches.

Wondering about working overseas? Not sure about industry or academia? Worried about work life balance? Want to know exactly what employers look for on applications and at interview?  Curious about non-academic roles for PhDs in university? This year’s panels will cover all of these topics and more.

You may be especially interested in 2017’s plenary session –“Managing your career in an uncertain world

Registration is now open: http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduates/pathways/

Use your doctoral research skills to find hard-to-find jobs

It could be easy to believe that all the jobs out there are with big graduate recruiters.  In the UK, in 2016 Small- to Medium-Sized Enterprises employed 15.7 million people, accounting for 60% of private sector employment (https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/business-population-estimates-2016). Perhaps most significantly,  small businesses accounted for – wait for it – 99.3% of all private sector businesses.  One point three million SMEs employ staff.  Aspiring entrepreneurs are not alone: 4.7 million SMEs did not employ anyone apart from the owner – so maybe it’s time to find carve a niche with your own business? (At Pathways 2016 our 10th anniversary cakes were made by Beth, Dr Beth Mottershead, a UoM doctoral graduate who now runs her own cake-making business: https://manunicareersblog.com/?s=Pathways )

The small- and medium-sized nature of these organisations – generally 250 people or less – means they don’t have the same recruitment budgets and demands as the more familiar “big recruiters”.  For you, the job hunter, tracking them down can be tricky and time consuming.

Here are a few helpful hints to find an SME that might be right for you:

Talk to people.  Given the ubiquity of SMEs in the global labour market – your personal network is likely to contain any number of people who work for or know people who work for SMEs.  They can give you insight into what it’s like working for a smaller company, even if it’s not exactly the work you want to be doing.

The UK Small Business Directory https://www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/

Guardian SME jobs: https://www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk/

On Careers Link, you can search organisations by size: http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/careerslink/

Use Linkedin to search for organisations http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/findjobs/networking/linkedin/

Do research into specific industries, jobs, products, services that you interested in.  Where are the organisations employing people doing the things you want to be doing? Target them for job searching of speculative applications.

And on that note – speculative applications are an important way to access opportunities in SMEs: https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/applications-and-cvs/271429-making-speculative-applications-for-graduate-jobs

Marketing your PhD

Try this advice for helping you make your PhD make sense to non-academic employers:

Reframing Doctoral Skills: http://daniellejdeveau.ca/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/reframing-doctoral-skills-for-the-private-sector.pdf

Jobs on Toast, Applying for Jobs Outside of Academia: http://jobsontoast.com/applying-for-jobs-outside-academia-from-phd-to-fellow-professional/

What Masters students need to know about the Grad Fair 2017

Your Masters degree ends in September/October, so the autumn recruitment fairs happen at just the right time to help you find a job, right?


If you’re going to find a job at a recruitment fair starting this year, the fair you need is the summer Graduate Recruitment Fair – next week.

Here is a big difference between the types of jobs advertised at these fairs.

  • Autumn recruitment fairs are primarily aimed at larger employers looking to fill their “graduate schemes”, normally a year in advance. Therefore, the majority of jobs on offer at the autumn fairs start in the autumn of the following year – October 2018 – which is a long way off if you graduate with a Masters at the end of 2017.
  • The Grad Fair is mainly full of employers looking to fill posts immediately or in the next few months. Some are large employers, where they are looking for a few new recruits, sometimes because they haven’t filled all those vacancies first advertised last autumn. However, most of the recruiters at the summer fairs are medium-sized employers with immediate vacancies. For these employers, it’s very hard for them to predict whether they will have vacancies in 12 months time, but they do know they will have job vacancies over the next few months.

What if I don’t want a job until after I finish?
This can sometimes cause a problem, if the recruiter wants someone to start straight away. However, it’s worth discussing with them whether they are prepared to wait until you’ve completed your dissertation or project. They may be more interested in the right person than an immediate start date. Also, in some cases, they may be more than happy to look at a slightly later start date – the summer fairs might have come around a bit early for them too! This is the time to practise your negotiation skills.

Will there be the right jobs there for me?
For some of you, yes. For others, definitely no.

You really can’t generalise about Masters postgrads.

  • If you’ve come straight from an undergrad degree with little work experience, the fairs may be a very good starting point for you.
  • If you’re an experienced professional, you probably won’t find the perfect job at these fairs, though you may be able to get some good inside information on employers in which you’re interested.
  • If you are looking for a very specialist role, or one in a highly competitive sector like museums, the media or consultancy, the employers you’re looking for may not be at the fairs – though it’s worth checking beforehand … you never know.

Will it be worth my time coming to the fairs?
Try reading my advice on the main postgraduate careers website and make your own mind up.

If you decide to come to the fair, this will also give you some clues about the right questions to ask, to avoid that “well, that was a waste of time” feeling (something I often hear from postgrads who have taken the wrong approach at recruitment fairs).

How will I know if the right employers will be at the fairs?
By looking at who’s coming and what degree subjects they are looking for. Download our app for the fair (available for Android or Apple, just before the fair) to find out more about which employers are looking for which subjects.

Details of the Graduate Recruitment Fairs in Manchester:

When: Thursday May 4th 2017, 10.30-16.00
Where: Armitage Centre, Fallowfield, Manchester

Register in advance to avoid the queues on the door: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-grad-fair-2017-manchester-thursday-4th-may-tickets-33040054693


March Newsletter for Masters students

The clocks spring ahead, the days are longer and (a little) warmer, the nature is waking up from its long winter’s slumber – and the job market is coming alive; make sure you don’t miss out on some great opportunities this Spring, these are detailed below.

If you’re not sure what you want to do, Spring is a good time to practice a little daydreaming – occupational daydreaming:

Morgan, J.I., & Skovholt, T.M. (1977). Using inner experience. Fantasy and daydreams in career counseling.  Journal of Counseling Psychology, 5, 391-397

Do your daydreams contain thoughts, images, or feelings about work? Morgan and Skoholt (and subsequent work) indicates that daydreams are an important part of planning and managing our careers.  Make a record of how work and career appear in your daydreams – can you tease out any clues or patterns? Alternatively, try and visualise in as much detail as possible your ideal day at work: What are you doing? What’s the environment like? The people you work with? Where are you living?

What not to miss:

Manchester Graduate Talent

MGT helps source paid graduate-level jobs exclusively for University of Manchester students graduating in 2017. We work with a range of organisations based in Greater Manchester, from start-ups to multi-national firms, plus recruiters within the University. MGT vacancies cover a variety of sectors and a wide range of roles. They include both fixed-term contracts and permanent positions.


The Grad Fair 2017

Thursday 4 May 2017 10:30am – 4:00pm
The Armitage Centre, Fallowfield, Manchester

Coming soon to Manchester – The Grad Fair is one of the UK’s largest graduate recruitment fairs. On the day, you will be able to meet with over 140 exhibitors offering thousands of graduate opportunities including:

• Grad schemes
• Local and national vacancies with immediate start dates
• Internships and summer positions
• Work, teach and study abroad programmes
• Postgrad and further study courses

No matter what you study, if you’re graduating this summer The Grad Fair will have something for you.


It’s not too late for a PhD.

As we went to press, 4 515 opportunities all over the world were being advertised on Find a PhD: https://www.findaphd.com/search/    You can also find opportunities on www.jobs.ac.uk .

February News and Updates for Masters students

The work of the Careers Service is designed and delivered to give you control over your career (= job + life). None of us can ever have 100% control but through self-awareness and other skills of career management, you become more able to adapt and overcome adversities that are out of your immediate control, and able to seek guidance for support and advice for dealing with things both in and out of your control.


With this in mind, I’ll be re-running some of the Careers Essentials workshops in February, for anyone who missed them last time around. You can find out more on our Postgraduate Events page:

Careers Essentials for Postgraduates


It’s not too late for a PhD

Currently jobs.ac.uk is advertising 884 global opportunities and find a PhD has over 11 000

Don’t forget to check out our online resources if your just starting think about further study: http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/study/

Getting ready for making applications?

Not sure where to start?Why not here?  http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/postgraduates/masters/masters-apply/

Broaden your search

Look out for jobs with employers you’ve never heard of, whether large or small. After the autumn rush, the majority of jobs are for smaller or less well-known employers. Note: “Smaller employer” does not mean “smaller job”. Just imagine getting in on the early days of a company who could be the next “Google” or “Red Bull”.

Build and maintain your support network

Our recent research indicates that graduate who move quickly and smoothly into good graduate jobs tend to share career and employability tips and advice amongst their friends and social contacts, not just with employers or academics. Everyone’s heard of the high profile graduate programmes advertised in the autumn. Your contacts could be the way you hear about less well-known jobs or postgraduate programmes (particularly PhDs) available later in your final year.

Last but not least…

Find out how to ask for references: https://manunicareersblog.com/2016/03/07/how-to-ask-for-letters-of-references/

January News and Updates for PGRs

A big welcome to all the new PGR students who’ve just arrived at the University of Manchester!

Spring is in the air. It’s true. Leaving work in the evening, I’ve detected a glimmer of sunlight lingering in the western sky.  More significantly, snowdrops, that well known harbinger of British Spring, have appeared in our garden (we live 200 m higher than Manchester, so I come into work to get warm).

Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672) was an early English poet in North America (unusual for being a published poet at a time when, according to her contemporary, Edward Hopkins, Governor of Connecticut (my home state for anyone interested) writing and reading should be left for men, “whose minds are stronger”).  Amongst her literary legacy, a particular quote of Mrs Bradstreet’s seems apt as we perch on the threshold of Spring 2017:

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Anne Bradstreet, Meditations Divine and Moral

The work of the Careers Service is designed and delivered to give you control over your career (= job + life).  None of us can ever have 100% control but through self-awareness and other skills of career management, you become more able to adapt and overcome adversities that are out of your immediate control, and able to seek guidance for support and advice for dealing with things both in and out of your control.


With this in mind, I’ll be re-running some of the Careers Essentials workshops in February, for anyone who missed them last time around. You can find out more on our Postgraduate Events page:

Careers Essentials for Postgraduates


For new PhD students – don’t miss:

10 and a bit things you should know about the Careers Service: https://manunicareersblog.com/2016/09/14/10-and-a-bit-things-phds-should-know-about-the-careers-service/

Would building better relationships help you adapt and be resilient?

Read this guest blog post on by Sue Colbeck to find out more about the skills of relationship building with colleagues: https://manunicareersblog.com/2015/03/20/relationships-are-they-a-skill/

Getting ready for making applications?

Not sure where to start? A first port of call is the Applications and Interviews section of the Careers Service website – find out what you do know, what you don’t know, review your application and interview strengths and weaknesses – then take action before that crucial deadline. http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/applicationsinterviews/

International students –

Don’t forget about the 12 month visa extension for PhDs.  Find out about this and more on our International pages: http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/international/

December news and updates for Masters students

December is the month of optimism.  Although the solstice on December 21st may be the shortest day of the year, it’s the gateway to better things – from then on, days only get longer and brighter (notice I didn’t say ‘sunnier’).

This has nothing to do with careers, but as a bit of fun, you can participate in the winter solstice in Orkney, an archipelago of islands off the far north coast of Scotland. Every year, local photographer Charles Tait, in partnership with Historic Scotland runs a web cam in Maeshowe, a prehistoric chambered cairn on Orkney’s West Mainland.  For a few days each midwinter, the sun shines directly through the cairn’s entrance passage, illuminating the cairn’s interior.

Whilst we’re on the topic, mid-winter is also a good time shed some light on your career options… file0001176305134

Essential Career Actions for December

Give yourself a pat on the back, take some time to wind down and celebrate (maybe with a trip to the Christmas markets?) as you’ve made it through the first semester of your Masters! The upcoming winter break is a good time to reflect on the past few months – take a look at what you’ve achieved and what’s gone well, and maybe what hasn’t gone quite to plan and how to change that in the new year.

The winter break is also the prime time to be thinking about your future, whatever stage you’re at. Whether you’re applying for graduate schemes, wondering what other jobs might be out there, or thinking of further study, we’ve got a graduate recruitment timetable that’ll give you the low down on essential actions to take this year, and when to take them.

View our essential actions 

Vacancy alert!

If you haven’t started looking for job opportunities (graduate scheme or otherwise) for after you finish your course, December is a very good time to start:

Careers Link – our very own ‘job shop’ for University of Manchester students

Targeted job searches and vacancy source by career area in the Careers Service Which Career? Section

Passport Career – for those looking for a career anywhere in the world.  Passport also runs helpful webinars on working internationally.

Knowing where to look for jobs is fine, but…“Help! I’m a Masters student – and I’m not sure what I want to do next.” 

If you don’t know what you want to do next, be reassured you are not alone.

This article by our Postgraduate Careers Manager, Elizabeth, is a fantastic place to get started with easy things you can reflect on to help you decide what direction your career could take after graduation:

It’s never too early to start preparing for interviews

If you missed the Career Essentials: Successful Interviews for Postgrads, you can find the slides here. If you prefer the face-to-face approach, a little elf has just produced some teaching space, so keep an eye out for more Careers Essentials sessions in early 2017.

Our ‘Interviews’ pages contain information, advice, practice materials and videos.

Some excellent general preparation advice.

…and advice for more specific types of interviews

god Jul!    glædelig jul!    Gleðileg jól!    hyvää joulua!

November News and Updates for PGRs

“In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.”  Cynthia Rylant

And what better food than food for thought? This month we’ve got career opportunities with Researchers in Schools and the Civil Service Fast Stream (but that’s not all, don’t forget to investigate CareersLink if you are interested in what might be on offer outside academia). You can also find out why a new online resource dealing with financial news is good for you (yes, you, too, over in the back on the left studying Victorian drama and you over on the right studying composite materials for aerospace applications…). And more…read on!

Researchers in Schools – a teacher training programme for people with PhDs

Researchers in Schools will be holding an information webinar in December.  Find out more about signing up by checking @ManPGCareers during the week of November 28th

Researchers in Schools offers PhDs a unique, fully salaried route into teaching tailored to their abilities, knowledge and experience. Through a bespoke programme blending classroom teaching and research opportunities, you’ll develop the skills to become a highly-effective classroom teacher, helping support pupils, regardless of background, to excel and progress to higher education.

  • Pursue a three-year training and professional development programme placing you directly into a school to develop your teaching practice on the job.
  • Gain Qualified Teacher Status through a structured programme of observation and classroom teaching.
  • Undertake our Research Leader in Education Award, a professional qualification recognising excellence in research practice within schools.
  • Access bespoke training, supporting you to develop strong leadership skills and work towards the programme’s mission.
  • Receive one day per week off-timetable to pursue the programme’s wider aims: Deliver subject- and education-focused research and high-impact interventions in schools to boost attainment and promote university access.

Benefits include:

  • A highly competitive salary and benefits package with salary uplift for maths and physics teachers
  • Dedicated time off-timetable to pursue the Researchers in Schools aims and maintain a research profile
  • Minimum 11 weeks’ paid holiday

For more information and to apply, visit www.researchersinschools.org

Next application deadline 8th January 2017

Last chance to apply for the Civil Service Fast Stream – applications are closing on the 30th of November


You can find useful background information to help you apply on the Careers Service website, too.

 Read this even if you think you don’t need to!

(Commercial awareness made easy)

Commercial awareness is essential to every job, whether you are an academic, a teacher, working for a charity – and working for the Civil Service. (It’s also useful for being an engaged citizen).  Keeping up to date with financial and related news can feel overwhelming, especially for those who have little to no interest in business news.

Until now.

Finimize is a financial news service with a twist – it aims to help readers learn from the news. Items are presented under 3 headings:

  1. What’s going on here?
  2. What does this mean?
  3. Why should I care?

In their own words:

“Finimize is financial news for everyday people. We strive to demystify finance by making financial news easy to understand, succinct and relevant to our readers. By enhancing their financial literacy, we give our readers the ability to make more informed decisions when it comes to their own money.”

Sign up is free.

Do you know Which Career?

It’s surprising the number of PhDs that I meet who’ve never visited the Careers Service website (or know that we have one!).  Which is a shame, because there is a lot of useful stuff on it.

This month I want to highlight our Which Career? section.    For those who are unsure, open minded or absolutely mystified as to possible careers post-PhD, these pages give you the opportunity to explore different career areas from the comfort of your own desk/bed/bean bag chair/wherever.

What does a management consultant actually do?  (My top question from PhD students).

Can I use my language skills in a career outside of academia?

What about careers in libraries and archives?

Where can I put my social stats skills to work?

…and much much more.

November News and Updates for Masters Students – focus on PhD funding

“In November, the smell of food is different. It is an orange smell. A squash and pumpkin smell. It tastes like cinnamon and can fill up a house in the morning, can pull everyone from bed in a fog. Food is better in November than any other time of the year.”  Cynthia Rylant

And what better food than food for thought? There’s plenty of that in this month’s newsletter if you’re thinking about doing a PhD after you graduate, because it’s all about funding.

Important note This is just a getting started guide.  Applying  for PhD funding, especially in the Arts and Humanities, can be a messy, non-linear, discursive suite of tasks. Even if you are applying for a funded opportunity – more common in STEM subjects, it still requires a proactive approach and resilience along with good planning and organisation skills. Good written and verbal communication skills go without saying (but I thought I would say so anyways, just in case). The aim of this article is to point you in the direction of things to think about and to encourage you to talk to people – especially prospective supervisors or current PhD students for advice – but even then, taking action and making it happen is all up to you.

 Not sure if a PhD might be right for you – start with our Doing a PhD pages on the Careers Service website

Apply for a funded studentship

Normally, a studentship is when you carry out the research on an already formulated project that has been funded by one of the UK Research Councils: “Please do not apply for UK studentships on this site unless you qualify for UK Research Council funding or have access to funding from other sources. Funding for PhD studentships from UK Research Councils is available to UK citizens or those who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for a period of 3 years or more. EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award.”

  • Find out more from FindaPhD (includes advertisements for PhD opportunities).

Other places to find RCUK studentship opportunities:

Talk to academics and– one of the most effective ways of tracking down studentship opportunities

NB: Some studentships may be sponsored by non-RCUK funders, in these cases eligibility may be different. ALWAYS CHECK YOUR ELIGIBILITY FOR BEFORE APPLYING FOR FUNDING.  TALK TO PEOPLE IF YOU ARE NOT SURE.

University Scholarships and Bursaries

Most universities will set aside money so they can offer a number of scholarships to students who are accepted onto a course. Highly ranked universities usually offer the greatest number of this type of scholarships. The amount of money also depends of the scholarship.

Bursaries are different from scholarships as they take into account the financial need of the student. Bursaries usually range from £100 to £4,000. The sum of money may be deposited into the student’s bank account, so they can use it to pay for any university related expense they choose or the university may automatically deduct it from the tuition fees.

Funding opportunities at The University of Manchester

Not planning to do your PhD at Manchester?  Check what funding your target institution(s) offer.

When in doubt, Google

My search for “PhD scholarships for Nigerian students” came up with a range of funding options (although some of the results did include UG and PGT, there was still a reasonable amount to choose from).


Not easy, but highly satisfying.  It is messy, hard work and a route for the highly motivated who passionately love their subject and research.  Yours truly self-funded her PhD, and knows of several other successful self-funders, so she knows of what she speaks.

The University subscribes to The Alternative Funding Guide and you can find it here: http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=21086  (needs your UoM login)

Many Postgraduate students fund their studies through working part-time, opportunities may be available in the local area or at your University. It may be possible to earn money teaching or as a research assistant where you are studying. Under the scheme, research postgraduates receive direct payment or a waiver of fees in return for undertaking teaching or research duties.  Postgraduate students may also be able to apply for pastoral roles in Halls of Residence, although this may not be possible at every institution.

How about an online searchable database of all sorts of charities and grants, called Turn2Us?

It’s not aimed at students or education particularly, but covers all sorts of grants. There are many categories, but try starting with “Studying (16+)” or head straight to the “Grants Search”.

It’s worth ticking any religious affiliations, health issues, or different family circumstances which apply to you, as some trusts were set up with terms which only allow them to give out grants to people who are, for example, from the Clan Forsyth or the Buchanan Family. Funds are also available to vegetarians, and there are some available to those from overseas residing in the UK.  Definitely worth a try!

Studying overseas?

Start with the advice on FindaPhD 

Talk to PhDs in your department about how they funded their PhDs

Slides for Becoming an Academic

Thank’s to everyone who came along to the second running of this Career Essential’s session, and great contributions and discussion!  If you are in FSE, keep an eye out for a full day workshop on Planning an Academic Career and Academic CVs (with lunch in the middle) coming to a location near you in March 2017.

The slides are here: becoming-an-academic-2016-web-version

iStock_000003737186Small Student in library

Slides for Job-hunting for Postgrads

Thanks to everyone for coming along to the last session in the Career Essentials series! And many apologies for running over time (Simon Building Lecture Theatre C and I don’t seem to suit each other very well, it seems).

Here are the slides from the session: job-hunting-strategies-2016.Find Job

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