Taking on a PhD graduate

3rd annual PhD and Postgraduate Career conference

Video transcript

Speaker 1, Joel Graham:

Ultimately, a business is a business regardless of what sector it operates in, it’s there to become profitable; ok for social enterprise, it’s how they use their profits for social welfare but ultimately they are there to be successful – so therefore the individuals who come into that business have to think exactly the same way. That being said, don’t go change how you are a person, understand that you have qualities to bring to that table and also that your PhD is huge quality to bring to the table. But be savvy about how you use that quality and understand that there are disadvantages and advantages to everything, and it’s how you present that in the best possible way for you as an individual person.

Speaker 2, Peter Forbes:

Most companies do apply primary hypocrisies for primarily obvious reasons and having a PhD is not an automatic passport to leadership roles – it can be, but not always. I think recruiters are nervous about narrowly focused PhD graduates being able to market themselves effectively. When you are faced with 4000-5000 applications, you are not going to waste your time with mollycoddling a PhD graduate, who cannot articulate their own skills, so it is very tough out there.

Speaker 3, Nick Wright (ERA):

There is a tendency to be concerned when employing a PhD graduate in case the person wishes to be working closely or staying narrowly close to their area of study, and many employers even such as us look to people who have experience in their area of study but also flexible of moving in other areas.

Speaker 4, Jo Healey (BAE systems):

Yes I agree. You have to decide whether research is the way forward or career in industry; because if it is a career in industry, you have to adapt, you have to learn skills and not to be focused on continuing in your research area. On many occasions that one may be the case. Right before you apply, you have to think about where want your career to go.

Speaker 5, Peter Forbes:

We did do some research recently on how employers behave recruiting PhD graduates. Imagine an analogy of fishing, and picture that they want to speak a particular fish with a particular knowledge and skills in a case, and many PhDs are thrawled by the expression. But you will be in competition with someone who has their first degree with two or four years of work experience, and that’s something to think about.

Speaker 6, Simon Cutler:

What does the world of work mean to your students, coming out of the world of academia and going into industry; and some of you may have had placements and experiences, but naturally you would be coming into a company at a level where you will be networking with directors and senior managers, and it’s how you influence them and listen to what they are saying in the key messages, and what skills and attributes you can do to solve their problems, that is important as well. So understand who the key players are in the organisation.

Speaker 7, Peter Forbes:

There is nobody in this room who knows what the world is going to be like in 2050, its impossible, so you’ve actually got a great opportunity because your exceptional skills in acquiring knowledge and manipulating it and generating new knowledge, knowing how to do these things. I think the winners are going to be who have a deep understanding and passion for learning and who sees this just as one step in the journey, not knowing where it is going to take you. Life’s got excitement and it also has its ups and downs and I think you should have a positive outlook even when faced with a difficulty, because it is people like you who are going to tell us what the world is going to look like, and there are great opportunities for people who have such an education like you have; and also, prepare for choppy waters – because that’s what makes life interesting.

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