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Helen - advice
Name: Helen
PhD discipline: Chinese and German
Area(s) of work: International relations and research council work
Year of graduation: 2005
Date of Interview: 17/06/2008

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Helen suggests how others might identify and pursue a career that interests them.

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If somebody coming towards the end of their PhD wanted to follow a similar kind of career trajectory to yours, what would you suggest were the most important things that they should consider? 

I think the most important thing is knowing what you like to do and what gives you pleasure, in terms of feeling a reward at the end of the day and then trying to find out whether there are organisations in which you can work that do that, then read up on those organisations and network within them.

So I made contacts by being part of the British Association for Chinese Studies, which is an academic network but involves partners from other agencies. So I'd say networking is the key and if you aren't hoping to pursue an academic career then you really need to make quite an effort to network outside that.

You can do it through academic associations and through going to conferences, but it does take that awareness of looking and then just web surfing and paying attention to places that do – for example, I mean all of my jobs have been with agencies that do fund academic research in the areas that I'm interested in, so it's not that far divorced from academic life and I still feel that I am engaging with academia and research and that's what I want to do, I just don't want to actually do the research, I just want to facilitate it.

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