We were delighted to host the second session of the SSA Early Career Research network on 15 September 2021, this time focused on post-doctoral careers.

The session was hosted by SSA PhD candidate Merve Mollaahmetoglu and we were joined by four excellent speakers with diverse career backgrounds:

  • Caitlin Notley: University of East Anglia
  • Eric Carlin: World Health Organisation Regional Office for Europe
  • Frances Campbell: Action on Smoking and Health
  • Robyn Burton: Public Health England

You can watch the session again here. In part 1 the panellists introduce themselves, talk about their careers and give their top career tips. Part 2 is a Q&A session, with the panel taking questions from early career researchers themselves. We have also summarised some of the best tips below:

  • You do you! Don’t follow a career path just because others are. Take time to reflect on what motivates you and what suits your personal circumstances and professional interests.
  • Mentors, mentors, mentors! Seek out those who will champion, support, and encourage you. Look for those who will invest time in your career and can help with both the big and small things.
  • Uncertainty is normal: It is okay not to know what you want to do, either now or later in life. Try different things and let your career take you in varied directions.
  • Be open-minded: Don’t worry about going outside your comfort zone. The skills obtained during the PhD are always transferable and will be valuable to employers in other sectors. Your PhD topic does not define you.
  • Keep at it! Don’t give up just because you don’t get the first role(s) you apply for. Keep applying, keep refining your application, keep practicing your interview skills, and keep gaining experience. Your opportunity will come.
  • Get a foot in the door and think laterally: A role in the tobacco field could open doors to transition working in other related fields in the future.
  • Collaborate rather than compete and build strong networks: Research is always a team effort. Surround yourself with people you can work with and learn from, all the way from administrative staff to senior researchers.
  • Leaving an academic position to work in the public sector does not mean that you can never go back, and vice versa: Gaining experience in other sectors and organisations can really improve your academic practice, topic knowledge, and network.

You can read more about the SSA Early Career Network and our future events by clicking here. You can also watch our first ever session on writing successful grants by clicking here.

by Dr Nathan Critchlow

The opinions expressed in this post reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions or official positions of the SSA.

The SSA does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of the information in external sources or links and accepts no responsibility or liability for any consequences arising from the use of such information.


Share this story