These days, we see many more postgraduates at our careers service than ever before. A fresh focus on postgraduate development and new funding has led to new people, projects and materials for supporting postgraduate careers. It's time for those considering postgraduate study to ask universities: "How will you support my career?"
The common perception that no one is interested in postgraduate careers has long been an exaggeration. Lynda Ali and Barbara Graham, directors of careers services at Edinburgh University and Strathclyde University respectively, wrote their book, Moving on in Your Career, back in 2000. Many careers services have built up a strong postgraduate following, based on careers workshops, materials and individual support. Here at Manchester, postgraduates account for over a third of all drop-in appointments.
However, the injection of Roberts funding, whereby research councils have given money to universities to support the development of PhD researchers, has boosted support at several institutions. For example, Mary McCarthy at Sheffield University was appointed through this funding, and now provides one-to-one support to PhD students. She also offers career-skills sessions and briefing sheets on topics such as CVs for postgraduates.
At other institutions, postgraduate support is part of the everyday job of all careers advisers, and Roberts funding has been used for one-off projects. At Manchester, we train all careers staff to keep them up to date with postgraduate issues.
But what if your careers service doesn't stretch to dedicated postgraduate support? Don't worry - there are national web-based resources out there just for you. They include:
"Your Masters - What Next?" (www.prospects. ac.uk/links/YourMasters) and "Your PhD - What Next?" (www.prospects. ac.uk/links/YourPhD) - the Graduate Prospects website pools the expertise of postgraduate careers advisers from many universities.
"Just for Postgrads" (www.grad.ac.uk/jfp) - the UK Grad website that is designed to support you through your research degree and beyond.
"What Do PhDs Do?" (www.grad.ac.uk/WDPD) - a comprehensive summary of where PhDs go once their thesis is bound and viva over.
If you're considering postgraduate studies, talk to universities to find out how they would support your career. Can they tell you where their postgraduates went on graduation? Will they provide career or skills development opportunities for you? Could you link your dissertation or thesis with an employer? You can talk to universities and careers advisers at events such as Manchester's Postgraduate Study Fair (23 November) - more than 85 UK and overseas institutions will be represented (www.careers. manchester.ac.uk).
The writer is head of postgraduate career development at Manchester UniversityReuse content