Phil: What do you particularly enjoy about working with PhD
Catherine: PhD students are so different I think we mustn’t
generalise and stereotype; they come with a whole range of different reasons
for coming to talk to us. And they have a genuine sort of concern about their
career; it matters to them, they are here because they need to be and because
they really, really want to be, which makes it a fantastic and engaging client
group for us to work with. They’ve got loads of interesting things to say and
sometimes it's about just unpacking some of those ideas a bit further and just
providing them with a framework for thinking. Possibly even just given them a
time and a space to say ‘okay, this is my careers time, I'm going to think
about that now’ and providing a structure for it. And you can do it with a very
light touch because you are dealing with somebody who is well informed,
engaged, intelligent, well motivated, and so in many case they are very
interesting and I might even say a very easy client to have to deal with.
Helen: I think as well and it might sounds strange but they
are actually less outward driven. I think the difference of working with sort
of PhD students as opposed to maybe undergraduates is undergraduates tend to be
very much focused on the end product, which for them is a career - is a
graduate job primarily. Whereas PhD students tend to be a lot more sort of
thoughtful and reflective about the process generally, and there doesn't just
have to be one destination for them. And I think it makes it a more interesting
and engaging interaction.
Helen: And one that covers actually a whole range of topics
it’s certainly not just confined to the careers domain. And often it is just
providing that sort of space for them to maybe offload about frustrations that
they are having in relation to the PhD experience or trying to enter the labour
market or comparing themselves with friends they perceive to be very
successfully in the labour market. There are a whole lot of things that they
bring to the discussion.
Catherine: Yes but also many are mature; many have worked
for a long time already. Many are working already – stretching their PhD out
over a long period of time. And so there is an awful lot of material to work
with and so it might take longer than dealing with an undergraduate student. But
there are more fulfilling outcomes I think at the end of it to make it more
Helen: I think they are more testing
Catherine: Yeah challenging
Helen: And I think it keeps you on your toes and I think it
removes that sort of complacency that you might otherwise feel in the job because
you're never quite sure what somebody is going to sort of bring to the
discussion. And certainly as well in group sessions you can get a really
interesting dynamic going I think with PhD students.
Phil: I think they are more kind of interested in ideas
Helen: Ideas and concepts yeah and also interestingly the
application of them as well they don't see things in a vacuum
Catherine: Yes it is a sort of mature approach isn't it that
we might not get with some undergraduate students. And a sophistication that is
easy to work with. Although there might be some stereotyping going on about
different parts of the labour market, it is quite easy to challenge that and to
move on fairly swiftly. You can cover a lot of ground quickly.
Helen: I think as well, talking about the challenging aspect,
I think quite often they are quite happy to be challenged about their own
preconceptions and that can lead to a very fruitful discussion and they are
breaking down the barriers on both side.
Catherine: Yeah, and I think the service is valued by the
PhD students; they appreciate the time, the resources that go into it and so
when we have web resources they get well used by PhD students. Careers
information that is written specifically for them gets well used and critiqued
and questioned, but that's fine.
Helen: I think arguably they are perhaps less of a consumer
than today’s undergraduate, which brings a different dynamic to the way that
they use the service and their interaction with us.
Catherine: That's interesting, that they invest more in it themselves
Catherine: And become more skilled users
Helen: More able, more thoughtful and more discerning
Catherine: And have a proven track record of
resourcefulness, motivation and willingness to engage and put in the graft not
expecting an easy quick solution.
Helen: Exactly because they are primed for that it is sort
of kicking a little bit at an open door
Helen: Because they are already cognisant of those concepts
Helen: It’s their bread and butter