Archives for category: Rachael Roberts

If I told you a PhD student developed writing skills I doubt you would be surprised. “Of course we develop writing skills – we have to slog over thousands of words to create a thesis!”

writing hard work

As with any skill, the heading ‘writing skills’ hides a multitude of complexity and diversity about what it actually entails and how you have demonstrated it. If you look in a dictionary you will find a mix of definitions; Read the rest of this entry »

In the last few weeks, university staff who are members of the USS pension scheme have faced further uncertainty about the future of their pension. A somewhat contentious valuation by USS has led to talk of a significant deficit and the need for increased contributions from members and employers, a possible reduction in the benefits and perhaps ultimately, the loss of the defined benefit element of the scheme (the bit that means your pension is based on your salary and the number of years you’ve paid in rather than how well a pot of money has performed in the markets). Read the rest of this entry »

Career planning is often presented as applying a logical, step by step approach following a linear pattern to develop your career but the reality is that life in general and our career thinking more specifically often don’t work that way. We have a huge number of options open to us and deciding what is the right career is no easy task. What happens for many people is that chance encounters, opportunities and life situations lead us to follow certain paths at different points in our life.


What is important is the approach we take to what life throws at us and how we deal with it in a way that can benefit us. Although people may feel that they fell into what they are doing ‘by accident’, it is likely that their attitude played a part. So what should you do to make the most of life’s everyday events? Read the rest of this entry »


Let’s get one thing clear – I’m not saying everyone needs to do a placement or an internship. In fact I’m writing this to stress that there is more to work experience than a 3 month placement – a placement may not be what you need at all. For researchers, whether PhD student or research staff, a placement may not be practical, possible or preferable.

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As the build up increases to the Paralympics, Channel 4 have launched a trailer called, ‘We’re the Superhumans’ which is receiving a lot of positive press and has even been described as the “best TV trailer ever”. It is great in so many ways; uplifting, insightful, educational and inspiring, it really shows what people can achieve. But one aspect of it left me feeling very frustrated. Throughout the trailer people are singing, saying or signing the words “yes I can” but at 2 minutes 15 seconds the shot goes to an office with a ‘careers’ sign on the door and a man is his 50s, wearing a grey suit, is talking to a schoolboy who is a wheelchair user and saying, “no you can’t”. It only lasts a couple of seconds and then returns to the previous, positivity but the message is very clear. Careers advisers will tell you what to do, or more likely, what you can’t do, they’ll judge you and will ultimately trample all over your dreams and aspirations. Don’t take my word for it, have a look yourself. But do come back and read the rest of this post! Read the rest of this entry »