Reflections of a PhD graduate (from the blissful embrace of gainful employment)

This week’s blog entry comes courtesy of Dr. Brian Surgenor, recently graduated from the School of Chemistry. Thanks Brian for the kind words, and good luck in Leipzig.

Picture1“If you have just completed your undergraduate, Master’s or PhD degree you will soon realise that was the easy part – the real challenge is finding a job!

I recently found myself in the situation where I had a PhD but had no particular career in mind, and this is where CAPOD, in the form of Dr. Ben Carter, came into play. I initially had no intention to continue into postdoctoral research (as the few groups that research my field of chemistry had nothing to offer), so instead began the iterative process of streamlining my CV and polishing my cover letter to suit chemistry jobs and consultancy firms, with guidance from Ben. 

Within a week or two I was armed with multiple versions of my CV and cover letter, in formats that could be easily tweaked to suit each specific role to which I applied. In addition, for every job I applied to I could tweak both CV and cover letter and have the tweaked version checked by Ben – normally hearing back within a few hours of emailing.

I strongly suggest doing this early. Before you finish your research, get in touch and start working on your CV. It can be a daunting experience but as I found out, sometimes positions appear suddenly and if they do you need to be ready to jump on them.

This is what happened to me. A research position in my field appeared in an email (at 10pm!) that was marked as ASAP and sent out to many other PhD candidates. As I now had many working versions of my CV and had learned what each kind of employer looks for, I was able to have my application in less than twelve hours after seeing the advert.

48 hours later I had secured the position and within a few weeks I moved abroad to start my postdoctoral fellowship.

If it hadn’t been for the help, advice and mentoring that Ben had provided me with then there is a chance I wouldn’t be where I am now.

Dr. Brian Surgenor

Postdoctoral research fellow – Universität Leipzig.”

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