This blog is part of ‘corrections and completion season’, so we are thinking particularly about those who have recently viva’d, or will be submitting their thesis in the next couple of months. First of all, congratulations! This is a huge achievement. Depending on how you are feeling – relieved to have progressed this far or focussing hard on working through the last stages of writing – this is the ideal time to think ahead to what you will be doing once you have finally completed the doctorate.
After celebrations what are your plans? Are you intending to take time out to write papers for publication, tie up loose ends and capitalise on success? You may already be working but, if not, have you a job to go to, whether in academia or beyond? If needed, do you have a strategy to find work? Are you clear about what you want to do, where to find opportunities and how to apply? How are your finances? If an international researcher and interested in the new Graduate Visa, have you contacted International Student Support here at Surrey to check the optimum time to make your application (firstname.lastname@example.org )?
Not everyone will have mapped out a seamless journey to the next staging post. Described as liminality the state of being betwixt and between can feel disconcerting but it also provides an opportunity to consciously sit with uncertainty and enjoy reviewing and exploring options. As a researcher you are highly employable both for your specialist knowledge and transferable skills whatever your specialism. It can still feel daunting though having to trawl through vacancies and apply for jobs so, whatever your background or experience, do feel free to call on the help of the Doctoral College careers consultants who are able to advise on opportunities. The recruitment process can take up to 3 – 6 months in some cases, particularly if seeking competitive roles so it is helpful to start evaluating and looking for roles early.
This is the time to leverage your network, talking to your supervisor and any mentors, updating people on progress and letting them know that you are now exploring opportunities. Informational interviewing is about constructive career conversations – asking for information about how to get into a particular career, what recruiters are looking for and where vacancies are advertised, for example. You do not need to ask for a job – if you make a positive impression people will be pleased to let you know if anything is available. You can approach contacts at professional associations, employers, academics, friends, family – anyone who may have a connection with a sector which interests you. You can read more about informational interviews here.
Meanwhile if you are unsure about your next steps, do not know exactly what role you want, for example, or want to know more about networking, please get in touch with the Doctoral College careers consultants who will be pleased to hear from you. If you need more experience to help navigate the transition to your next role, depending on the time you have available, it may not be too late to engage with an employer mentor or even do a work placement, for example. They can also advise on making effective applications and interview technique. To arrange a meeting either email email@example.com or make an appointment here.