PhD students take part in careers and speed networking event

13 November 2017

Postgraduate researchers took part in a careers and speed networking event on 8 November co-hosted by the IOP and the South East Physics Network (SEPnet).

PhD students take part in careers and speed networking event

The event in London started with invited panellists being given three minutes to introduce themselves. They gave an overview of their current employers, representing a variety of sectors including academia, industry, national scientific facilities and laboratories and finance.

They then talked about the value of their PhD in terms of how the technical, analytical and mathematical skills they gained helped propel their careers and personal career choices. Many of their subsequent opportunities had not been foreseen during their PhD studies.

Following the introductions there was a speed networking session in which each panellist was assigned a group of four to five students. For 10 minutes the students could question the panellists about their current role and the panellists could showcase their employment experiences to date and tender advice such as tips regarding how to make successful career transitions.

The panellists also emphasised the importance and value of gaining industrial experience while studying for a PhD. After the allotted time the panellists moved to a different group of students and the process was repeated.

Finally, the students had a chance to network, to reflect on what they had learnt from the event, to feed back to the organisers and to consider how proceedings might influence their future career aspirations.

The IOP’s careers and CPD manager, Vishanti Fox, said: “The format of the event was first proposed by the Institute’s vice-president for membership, Dr Mark Telling, in collaboration with IOP staff. It continues to be of tremendous value by providing students with the opportunity to interact with established career scientists and learn about career pathways open to individuals with a PhD in physics.

“The event was deemed a great success and the IOP and SEPnet look forward to collaborating on similar events in the future.”

Dr Telling said: “It has been a pleasure to partner with SEPnet to take forward this initiative. With such a diverse range of employment options championed by the panellists, this event not only promotes possible academic career opportunities but also provides a much-needed platform for those sectors that depend on physics and skilled physicists, but for whom career openings may not be immediately visible.”

Veronica Benson, SEPnet employer liaison director, also commented: “Collaborating with the IOP on this event has certainly enabled us to offer a richer experience to our postgraduate researchers.”

Speaking afterwards, PhD student Lorenzo Lavia, of the University of Surrey, said. “It was great to have panellists from all different walks of life and who have taken totally different career paths – it really helped put into perspective the plurality of options that are available to us as physics students.”