Job title: Policy Consultant (profile)
Company: Technopolis Group (website)
I was around a year from finishing my PhD in Medical Education when I started thinking seriously about a non-academic career. I had a very rough idea about pursuing a career in consulting but had zero direction about what that might entail and how I might go about applying for PhD graduate level role. I knew of the v i s t a mentoring programme through a v i s t a seminar I attended about consulting and decided to give mentoring a try since my internet research wasn’t answering my many questions about the profession. I set up my profile and got in contact with a management consultant called Jon Benton who worked at PWC in Melbourne, Australia.
Our first telephone conversations were very exploratory, focusing on what kind of work it was that I wanted to do. Once we had worked out the area of consulting that I wanted to go into (higher education, research and health policy), we started narrowing down the companies that I could apply to. We then started drafting my CV, covering letters and applications. Jon would give me feedback from an insider perspective which really gave me an edge in progressing through application stages.
Jon also encouraged me to network as much as possible to create informal opportunities outside of the big online application systems. Through one of those networks, I secured an interview at a great looking medium sized policy consultancy firm in Brighton. Jon helped me practice my interview technique and gave me a lot of valuable advice about what it might be like to work at that company since the consulting experience can be so different firm-to-firm.
Thanks to Jon and other great mentors, I got the job! I have been a consultant working in science and innovation policy for Technopolis Group for over 6 months and have loved the experience and working environment. I work on an incredible range of projects across topics, from evaluating multi-million £ international development programmes to helping design the UK’s new research funding service (UKRI). I regularly travel for work and network with interesting people in and out of government.
Jon’s guidance was exactly what I needed to make my decision about consulting and subsequently secure the job that I have now. My advice is to students is to use this service as early as possible, so you can take full advantage of multiple mentors’ experiences and advice. Just have one conversation and see where it takes you and your thinking.