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What might be the value of a careers consultation?
Now Playing: What might be the value of a careers consultation?
The careers advisers talk about why they enjoy working with PhD researchers. You may find the discussion helps you to think about what you might get from workshops or one to one time with a careers adviser.


Phil: What do you particularly enjoy about working with PhD students?  

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.  

Catherine: Yes  

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 worthwhile.  

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.  

Catherine: Yes  

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.  

Phil: Mm  

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 

Helen: Yeah  

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  

Catherine: Yes  

Helen: Because they are already cognisant of those concepts  

Catherine: Yes  

Helen: It’s their bread and butter