United States speakers run careers workshop for postdocs

In early May, the School invited two speakers from the US to run a whole-day intensive careers event for postdoctoral researchers.

The workshops were facilitated by Dr Karen Kelsky and Kellee Weinhold, of The Professor Is In, who provide specialist advice on all elements of the academic and post-academic career and job search.

Demystifying the job search

Over the day, Karen and Kellee facilitated three 90-minute workshops covering career building, the transition to non-academic roles, and barriers to productivity.

Participants were encouraged to take an active part in lively discussions about how to achieve their potential, including discarding the common preconception that securing an academic job is down to luck.

Practical career tools

The 40 postdoctoral researchers in attendance, from the School, the wider University and Heriot-Watt University, learned a raft of empowering career skills including how to create a five-year plan, build and maintain a supportive network, and bridge academic and non-academic job searches.

One participant said "I have now created my own five-year professional development plan as Karen Kelsky suggested during the PDRA workshops."

Another commented that they had since "followed Karen's recommendations and completely rewrote [my] cover letter for an upcoming job application [which] reads much better than earlier cover letters filled with boilerplate text and verbiage."

Future opportunities

Dr Timm Krüger, who organised the event, concluded that “these workshops addressed some important issues that are often ignored, such as the variety of skills required to secure an academic position and the necessity for the postdocs to take charge of their own professional development. I am very pleased that a number of postdocs are now in the process of planning their own careers event with a focus on spin-out companies.“

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