Career support for PhD students

Two specialist Careers Consultants, Gemma Garrett and Andrea Cox, provide careers support for PhD students and postdoctoral/early career researchers across all three faculties at QMUL.

One to Ones

Free, confidential one-to-one appointments are available to PhD students and postdoctoral researchers each week, from 11am to 12:30pm and 1:30pm to 2:30pm on Mondays and Tuesdays. These are held at The Careers and Enterprise Centre (WG3, near the Octagon in the Queens Building) and can be booked by telephone on 020 7882 8533, or in person at the Centre. You can discuss a range of issues, including:

  • Career options, planning and job hunting (whether you want a career in academia or elsewhere)
  • CV, covering letter and application advice
  • Interview preparation (including practice interviews).

To find out more, visit:


A range of alumni, employer, and student-led events are timetabled each academic year, including:

  • PhD alumni discussion panels and speed networking events
  • Employer-led events – talks from PhD employers. For example, employers at previous events have included PhD alumni discussing self-employment and a social enterprise called The Brilliant Club that arranges for PhD students to deliver tutorials in secondary schools.
  • Café Scientifique (hosted in collaboration with our Centre for Academic and Professional Development) – speakers are current PhD students talking about their research to non-specialist audiences. Volunteering to talk at these events is a great way to practise and develop your communication and public engagement skills.

Events are listed and available to book at:

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Biotechnology Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES)

Biotech Yes provides business training for PhD students and early postdocs – if you’d like to find out more, we’ll be holding an introduction to the Biotech YES competition and business workshop on Tuesday 16th May (2.30-4.30pm).

Why participate?

  • Acquire business development skills
  • Build and pitch your own business plan
  • Learn about commercial & marketing strategies

Who is eligible?

Bioscience and biomedical researchers from medical researchers to electronic engineers to ecologists.

To book a place go to (course code RC900)

PhDs & Postdocs – How to apply to a job in industry

Dr Tracy Bussoli, Careers Consultant

Part 2: How to apply to a job in industry

  • Make speculative applications

Not all biotechnology companies and contract research organisations have the resources to run formal recruitment processes in the way that large pharmaceutical companies do. It’s therefore worth approaching them even if they are not advertising a job!

Some of the careers sections on their websites will have contact details of where to send the applications, but others may not. If there are no contact details on their website, look at LinkedIn or do some online research to find an appropriate person to send your application to. Here is some information on how to make speculative applications

  • Target your applications

To work out which companies to apply to, explore the various sectors and organisations to see where your expertise and subject knowledge fits.  If you have immunology experience, you may want to look at biotechnology companies that specialise in immunotherapy. A good place to start searching biotechnology companies for various roles is GolgiCareers or on LinkedIn. Once you find a company that aligns with your research or could use your research techniques, put together a CV and cover letter and send it off.

  • How to improve your CV

You will need to think about using a CV format that allows you to highlight the most relevant skills to the particular job you’re applying for. We recommend that you keep a

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PhDs & Postdocs – How to find a job in industry

Part 1: How to find a job in industry

Dr Tracy Bussoli, Careers Consultant

If you’re thinking of finding a job in industry, you’ll need to be persistent and resilient as it may take time. As there isn’t always a straightforward way to find positions, here are my top tips on finding work in industry:

Explore all industry sectors and roles

Look at the range of functions and roles within pharmaceuticals, biotechnology companies and contract research organisations. See below for a list of:

Research and Development is the typical area that attracts PhDs and Postdocs; within this falls drug discovery, preclinical, clinical research and process development. Drug discovery and preclinical research jobs are the typical jobs for PhDs and Postdocs; job titles within this area usually contain the word ‘scientist’.

Other roles include business development managers, regulatory affairs specialists, medical scientific liaison (MSL) specialists, medical writers and life science consultants.

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Broaden your horizons: opportunities to gain skills and experiences outside your PhD (part 3)

Gemma Garrett, Careers Consultant

In the final part of this series, read on to hear more from our Broaden your horizons event last week, as part of QMULGradFest.

andrew hinesAndrew Hines, a third year SLLF postgraduate, spoke passionately about his teaching experience with The Brilliant Club, a charity that exists to widen access to highly-selective universities for school pupils from under-represented groups. The organisation employs PhD students and postdoc’s from all disciplines to teach.  Andrew’s role involves tutoring small groups of bright secondary school children from low economic backgrounds for two hour sessions at time. The experience enabled him to hone his communication skills by talking about his often niche and complex area of research in ways that could be understood by young, non-specialist audiences. Andrew gained an insight into what it’s like to teach to school pupils and developed his tutoring skills, whilst also earning some extra cash (all the positions are paid). As well as giving him an outlet from his PhD, Andrew’s involvement means he can now “sum up his PhD in three lines” – a valuable skill whatever his next career move.

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Broaden your horizons: opportunities to gain skills and experiences outside your PhD (part 2)

Gemma Garrett, Careers Consultant

In last Wednesday’s blog we introduced you to some of the PhD students who spoke at last week’s Broaden your horizons event. Read on to hear from more of our students and what they’re involved in …

hayleyHayley Peacock, a fourth year PhD student in Geography, is also a great example of how being open to doing new things can lead to further opportunities. Hayley’s involvement with The Brilliant Club led to her being invited to apply for the role of ‘Widening Participation Support Officer’ for the School of Geography’s Stepping Stones scheme. In this role she trained QMUL Geography undergraduates to deliver challenging 1:2 tutorial sessions to widening participation students from local schools. Hayley’s teaching experiences also gave her the confidence to coach in one of her other passions –

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Broaden your horizons: opportunities to gain skills and experiences outside your PhD (part 1)

Gemma Garrett, Careers Consultant

Whether you’re seeking a career in academia or elsewhere, it’s likely your next employer will be looking for a broad range of skills and experiences, not all of which you might acquire during your PhD. It’s therefore useful to be aware, and take advantage of, opportunities to broaden your horizons beyond your PhD. 

On Weds 13th June, postgraduate researchers gathered to hear from six of their peers about a variety of activities they’re involved in alongside their PhD. The event aimed to raise awareness of the exciting range of opportunities available to PhD students to broaden their skills and experiences, and further enhance their chances of securing their next role. Broaden your horizons was organised by Careers & Enterprise as part of the 2016 GradFest organised by QMUL’s Doctoral College.

Read on to find out more about what our speakers are involved in… we’ll be featuring more of our speakers on our blog soon, so watch this space!

jenny mccurryJenny McCurry, a third year Geography postgraduate, recently completed a three month Research Councils UK (RCUK) policy internship. These paid internships are available to any Research Council-funded PhD students, regardless of their discipline (they are offered by the MRC, NERC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC and AHRC). They provide the opportunity to develop an understanding of the policy-making process and how research contributes to it. In her role, Jenny was working in a team of analysts at the Department for Communities and Local Government. The experience gave her an insight into the different roles within government and how the policy process works. It also allowed her to apply the research skills developed throughout her PhD to new topic areas, and to achieve impact in a new environment outside academia. As well as gaining an insight into a different job sector, Jenny made a myriad of new contacts (including academics active in the policy arena) that will support her in her next career move.

Samuel BrodSamuel Brod from the WHRI spoke about how a chance encounter, talking to a (then) stranger in a bar about his PhD project, led to involvement in a series of science communication activities. This started with a video combining his science with art, but subsequently led to writing, public engagement and presenting roles. Sam found these opportunities through a combination of proactivity (seeking out activities like the NatureJobs blog writing competition) and his ability to talk enthusiastically about his subject to anyone who will listen (leading to referrals to roles that included an internship at the Centre of the Cell). Among other things, Sam has contributed to the NatureJobs blog, helped organise events such as Pint of Science and the Cheltenham Science Festival, and edited the WHRI academic newsletter.  His rising science communication profile means that people now approach him with paid work to do something he enjoys doing!