- Database of practice
- Careers advice for Cambridge University research staff (postdocs, research assistant, research associates) in arts, humanities and social sciences,
Careers advice for Cambridge University research staff (postdocs, research assistant, research associates) in arts, humanities and social sciences,
- University of Cambridge
- East of England
- Date first submitted:
- 25 Nov 2009
- Date last modified:
- 7 Dec 2009
- Academic practice
- Researcher development strategy/management
- Career development
- Doctoral researchers
- Research staff
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
The post is funded from Roberts allocation and hosted in Cambridge University Careers Service, which already had two f-t careers advisers for postdocs and research staff, one for Life Sciences and one for Physical Sciences. The new post completes careers provision for postdocs / research staff across the Schools (academic divisions) of the University. The institutional intention is to have a viable, sustainable model of careers provision for researchers in place for all the Schools by the time Roberts funding ends in 2011.
The main features are 1:1 consultations, practice interviews (with webcam), a dedicated multi-page newly written website, a diary email service, and group sessions and workshops on career management (from career choice to applications), some in collaboration with the postdoctoral research forum at CRASSH (Centre for Research in Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities), with the Research Office (advises on and manages grant applications) and the Centre for Personal and Professional Development (runs skills courses available to researchers).
To have a viable, sustainable model of careers provision in place for researchers in the two Schools by the time Roberts funding ends in 2011
To identify the researchers (there is great diversity of types of researchers across the 39 depts /faculties, a shifting population, and no established route to reach them)
To find out what careers guidance the researchers want
To make the new provision known to the researchers
To provide careers guidance economically
To foster career planning sessions within departmental research groups
To enable more researchers to make appropriate and successful applications for grants and jobs
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
Participants in all CV / letter sessions (1:1 or group) are expected to provide a draft CV / letter in advance, and to have used the (free) Careers Service publication ‘CVs and Cover Letters for Higher Degree Graduates’. Practice interviews are for specific jobs and all application materials and the job description have to be provided in advance. Users of any part of the service are asked to register on the website (so that they can access the website contents, and so that user numbers can be monitored).
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
There had been a demand among researchers for dedicated careers advice provision for non-scientists. It was the missing piece in the Roberts provision jigsaw at Cambridge. It is now in place.
As yet the post is in its infancy (it went public to its potential clients on 23 October 2009, after the building of the website, making of advertising material, IT set-up for registration, etc.) so benefits to clients are also only just beginning to accrue. Feedback by users is positive, especially for 1:1 sessions, which can make them more confident and effective in their job applications. Reviews by the postholder’s managers have also been positive (‘spot on’).
Registration by users on the dedicated website opens up to them the 4000+ pages of the main Careers Service website, including its vacancy site, email services, diary of career briefings & employer events etc. In the first month of the service, 60 users registered, i.e. over 13% of the total estimated cohort.
Collaboration enables both the postholder and the CRASSH postdoctoral forum coordinator to reach out to their cohorts more economically, effectively and productively.
In time the post-holder will (it is hoped) foster the Concordat spirit of career support to researchers among PIs.
There is great diversity of levels of researchers, types of research groups, subject areas and potential career destinations across the 39 depts / faculties, a shifting population, and no established route to reach them. Many work as individuals, largely in isolation from peers and department. Others are in groups tightly managed by PIs. Challenges therefore are to identify the researchers; to meet the requirements of the researchers; to make the provision known to the researchers; to run group sessions at times that suit enough people to make them viable; to know enough about the researchers’ potential academic and non-academic careers to provide helpful information to them; to identify and liaise with their managers / HoDs; to find appropriate speakers / trainers for a group with very diverse concerns; to avoid duplication of other, more generic but useful provision. These are being gradually tackled by: face to face meetings with HoDs / dept administrators; constant marketing through email groups etc; dissemination of a flyer in common rooms; grapevine; continued collaboration with CRASSH.
To Do list includes: making contact with heads of depts accommodating above average numbers of researchers; getting a flyer about the service included in induction packs of new researchers; adding information pages about non-academic careers to website; adding to the website sector on academic careers; collecting career histories / job descriptions from ex-postdocs / current academics; briefing sessions / workshops drawing on expertise of senior academics / senior staff in non-academic jobs involving research/writing. All these will feed into the last of the ‘Aims & Objectives’ above.