The Value of Research Placements for PGRs

In this post, Laura Clark, a PGR in the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, shares her experience of undertaking a placement in the Home Office during her PhD, and the skills she developed as a result.

I began my PhD with a vague idea that I would look for a placement without any specific thoughts about what, where, or the things I would like to get out of the experience. After a year of trying to find something suitable, I came across the URKI Policy Internships Scheme, a three-month placement at an influential policy organisation in a parliamentary department, government department, or non-government body. It was based on the needs of the department, which meant I did not need to spend a lot of time planning out the placement, and my research topic was irrelevant providing I could demonstrate I had the required skills. I applied and, after a long process, was offered a placement with the Home Office.

The headquarters of the Home Office, in London, which Laura didn’t visit because her placement took place during COVID-19 restrictions.
Photo credit: Steve Cadman
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Survive & Thrive: Persuading, Negotiating & Influencing

Continuing her occasional series, “survive and thrive”, Katie Hoare from Careers Network explores a key skill sought after by employers in the post-COVID-19 world.  It’s likely that you are already developing and using these highly transferable skills in your research.

What

During a March 2021 PG Skills workshop, UoB PGR alum Rob Pilbrow provided a useful definition of each of these three inter-connected skills. Persuading is the ability to convince others to take a desired viewpoint or action; negotiating is the ability to discuss and reach a mutually satisfactory agreement; and influencing is the ability to effectively persuade and negotiate.

A peacock fanning his tail
The peacock “persuades” the peahen he is a good mate

It is also important to emphasize what these skills are not. Proper use of persuading, negotiating and influencing should NOT be confrontational or antagonistic. It is not about arguing, forcing your will, harassing, pestering or using a power imbalance. Applying these skills should result in a positive, supportive, beneficial and evidence-based discussion, underpinned by an understanding of the person or people being addressed.

Continue reading “Survive & Thrive: Persuading, Negotiating & Influencing”

Survive and Thrive: Leadership

Continuing her occasional series, “survive and thrive”, Katie Hoare from Careers Network explores a key skill sought after by employers in the post-COVID-19 world.  It’s likely that you are already developing and using these highly transferable skills in your research.

What

When most people hear the word “leadership” they think ‘management of staff’ or ‘being the boss of an organisation’.  Whilst these positions do definitely require leadership ability, they are not the only scenarios where leadership skills are required.  You can and should be developing your leadership skills regardless of whether you are supervising others.

Photo of a lionLeadership is not one skill, your ability to lead requires a variety of skills including self-awareness, accountability and communication.  Consultancy firm McKinsey have a conceptual framework for leadership and split it into three levels; 1) leading yourself, 2) leading others, 3) system leadership.  People often move from level 1 to 2 during their career, but not everyone ends up at level 3.  System leadership goes beyond leading one organisation to transforming whole systems and often involves connected organisations addressing multi-faceted problems.

Continue reading “Survive and Thrive: Leadership”