Being a researcher at the University of Sheffield means that you have a whole host of development opportunities at your fingertips. There’s so much on offer that you could probably spend a couple of days every week attending workshops, events, participating in online training etc. and not tackle the same thing twice. So how do you go about choosing which development event is right for you?
To avoid a situation where you start to collect development events like you would panini stickers (got, got, NEED!), it’s always handy to take a step back and reflect on your current strengths and areas for development. There are plenty of tools and resources to support you with this, such as the Researcher Development Framework, which identifies the behaviours and attributes of successful researchers and enables you to recognise your existing skills and set realistic goals for your own development.
Take advantage of formal processes such as appraisals (every member of research staff, regardless of length of contract, is entitled to one) to document any training and development needs. The equivalent process for Doctoral Researchers at the University of Sheffield is to undertake a Training Needs Analysis. Both processes result in the creation of a development plan which is reviewed annually.
Engaging in this type of reflection doesn’t have to be so centred on form filling, as with everything, talking to others often helps! There are a number of mentoring programmes within the University which exist to support researchers at various career stages to effectively engage with the professional and career development process. Even an informal chat with a line manager or another colleague can be just as valuable as any other tool already mentioned. I’ve lost count of the number of researchers who have contacted me to book on events because “a colleague has recommended it and thinks that I will find it really useful”.
By undertaking a bit of prep-work before you hit the booking system, you can create a development plan which is going to benefit you, your research and your future career prospects. The development events you choose to participate in will definitely right for you and they’ll be worth the investment of your time.