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
Continue reading “The Value of Research Placements for PGRs”

Developing Consultancy Skills in Practice

Ahead of running the Virtual Consultancy Challenge in 2021, Katie Hoare from Careers Network spoke to some of the previous participants to find out what they learnt and whether they enjoyed it.

In spring 2020, as lockdown hit, postgraduate researchers from across the University and the globe were gaining valuable professional skills as well as work experience as consultants, and they were doing so completely online via the Virtual Consultancy Challenge. The Virtual Consultancy Challenge is an online self-access training programme and competition where inter-disciplinary teams of postgraduate researchers work together in virtual teams to solve their “client’s” real-life challenge.

The 2020 Virtual Consultancy challenge winning team (clockwise from top): Francesca Lewns, PhD Dentistry; Taiwo Hassan Akere, PhD Earth & Environmental Sciences; Paris Lalousis, PhD Psychology.
The 2020 Virtual Consultancy challenge winning team (clockwise from top): Francesca Lewns, PhD Dentistry; Taiwo Hassan Akere, PhD Earth & Environmental Sciences; Paris Lalousis, PhD Psychology.
Continue reading “Developing Consultancy Skills in Practice”

There’s no ‘I’ in Team – but there is in Coniston!

In July, Leanne Campbell, a current PGR in the College of Social Sciences, went to the Lake District for a course on team building. Here, she tells us what she did and what she learnt.

Earlier this summer I took part in the Coniston PGR trip as part of the PGCARMS programme.  This is an advanced transferable skills module which focuses on team skills and collaborative working.  This may seem a strange choice given that my doctorate in Education is essentially a solo endeavour, but that’s exactly why it appealed to me; doctoral research can be isolating and pretty lonely at times, so I jumped at the chance to do something interactive, learn new skills and to meet new people, and of course spending a week in the beautiful Lake District was also a bonus!

paddleboardingAt Coniston we were split into two teams and each day brought new challenges, from paddle boarding to rock climbing to navigating our way back from the village pub in the pitch black at night which definitely tested our skills as a team!  Each activity had a collaborative element and at the end of each day we were asked to reflect on what we had learned about being part of a team.  We also had a session on the different Belbin team roles and reflected on our own Belbin profile and how it fitted in with the others in our team. Continue reading “There’s no ‘I’ in Team – but there is in Coniston!”

Making the “e” in e-mail stand for “effective”

www.maxpixel.net-At-Mail-E-Mail-Characters-Envelope-Post-Email-3413133How many e-mails do you receive in a day?  How many e-mails do you think your supervisor receives in a day?  A typical supervisor might receive well over 100 e-mails every day.  What can you do to help make e-mail an effective communication tool between you and your supervisor when your supervisor has so many messages to deal with?

The Thesis Whisperer has discussed this a couple of times, with excellent posts on a supervisor’s perspective on the “tyranny of tiny tasks” that often result from e-mail, and inter-cultural e-mail communication.  Here are some additional strategies that I use when communicating with colleagues (including academic colleagues) by e-mail. Continue reading “Making the “e” in e-mail stand for “effective””

There’s no “I” in TEAM

In the week of the Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School, we take a quick look at effective team working.

This week, PGRs from across the University are participating in the Postgraduate Enterprise Summer School (PESS).

Participants will work together in small teams to solve a real life strategy challenge being faced by an influential local organisation.

PESS is designed to develop PGRs’ enterprise and transferable skills, and in particular to give PGRs the invaluable opportunity to develop team working skills.  You will often be required to work in teams in careers both in and outside academia.

Teams are formed when a group of people get together with a shared goal.  One feature of effective teams is each member of the group/team understanding their own strengths and weaknesses, and appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of other members of the team.  One of the most common models used for this is the Belbin Team RolesBelbin’s original research demonstrated that successful teams had a balance between eight (later nine) “team roles” (or clusters of behaviour in a team). Continue reading “There’s no “I” in TEAM”