Initiated by Yuhua and Youcao from as early as 2017, this event was designed to offer a variety of information on and insights into the job world outside academia, to help PhD students and graduates make more informed career decisions. Opened by Dr Darcey Gillie, an experienced careers adviser from The Researcher Development Team of the University, the event welcomed PhD students from a variety of departments including the Information School, Landscape Department, Management School, and Department of Sociological Studies for intriguing and informative sessions from a good variety of invited speakers, including industry practitioners, start-up founders, careers consultants and professionals from the domains of social enterprise and venture capital.
Dr Alice Mathers is the Head of Research and Explorations from Good Things Foundation, a leading UK digital literacy NGO. As an external member of our School’s Advisory Panel, Alice is committed to helping PhD students make better career choices, especially at the outset. Alice’s presentation, entitled ‘Parks, books and digital: from academia to industry’, shared her journey from the time when she first stumbled into the digital charity with little knowledge about what ‘digital’ implied after her PhD in Landscape Architecture, when she found the beat of research in industry and applied her transferable research skills to the real-life projects, to when she created a research team in the organisation. Now 10+ years into her journey, she has proven the impact of research in industry, and is continually leading the team to evolve and improve. Reflecting on her career, Alice suggested that it is important to keep curiosity and openness; good researchers’ qualities. Her experience gave the audience a living example of the possibility of continuing research in organisations, even if sometimes it is not one’s area of expertise to begin with.
|Dr Alice Mathers delivering her session.|
|Elena Yang Liu addressing audience questions during networking lunch|
In addition to the above personal journeys, following information sessions answered the questions of ‘H’s and ‘W’s for the audience, including: ‘How did people get where they are (and how do I get there)?’, ‘What qualities, recourses, teams should I gather so that to get there?’, and ‘Where are these resources?’
Stephanie Ward, manager of Vista Mentoring; Darren Chouings, network chair of SSEN (Sheffield Social Enterprise Network) and social enterprise specialist from the USE (University of Sheffield Enterprise); and Anu Adebajo, investment manager from British Business Bank gave very informative sessions. Stephanie introduced how to find a mentor (PhD graduates in industry) to discuss one’s career plans, which is an important feature that is often lacking in traditional careers consultancy. She also amazed the audience by revealing that she is not only in the role of managing such a big platform, but also a PhD student herself, now in her writing-up year.
Darren delivered an interactive session which introduced what a social enterprise is like and how to gain the necessary support to start one of your own. The real-world cases of social enterprise that Darren shared were in very different segments of society and have rather differing rationales behind them. This greatly inspired the audience who were from diverse backgrounds. In contrast to social enterprise, Anu explained what a VC (venture capital) is, how it differentiates itself from other funding sources and how to pitch ideas and get funds from VC investors. In addition, Tom French from Good Things Foundation, and Tristan Westlake from Campus Capital also shared their thoughts with the audience at the networking session that followed the seminars, which has also received very positive feedback from the participants.
Darren Chouings giving a session on social enterprise
Slides from the seminars are available here
Blog written by Yuhua Wang