No matter what your course of study, your postgraduate journey will leave you with knowledge and skills far wider than your subject area.
Dr Lyn Lavery’s PhD is in Educational Psychology, but as she says:
“I have a PhD in project management. I have a PhD in managing yourself… I have a PhD in analysis. And I would say I have a PhD in just research, as well.”
These types of learnings are often called transferable skills. They are the reason why research students are simultaneously highly specialised, yet also widely employable. Let’s imagine you’re studying the fungal growth patterns of the Bornean spongiforma squarepantsii (a completely real species of mushroom named by someone with a sense of humour and a love of anthropomorphised cartoon sponges).
OK, so that’s quite a specialised subject. But you needn’t worry about finding a job in that exact area, because you’re packing your CV with all these skills:
- project management
- academic writing
- complex information seeking
- problem solving
- time management
And probably also:
- public speaking
- software & technology
- managing budgets
But how can you maximise your skills outside your specialised research area?
Like any professional, it’s important for researchers to undertake professional development. That’s partly what PG Week is all about – getting out of the office/lab, and learning new things.
There are lots of free workshops available for AUT postgraduate students. Today, for instance, there are workshops on CV writing, designing ethical research, using EndNote, and writing literature reviews. Tomorrow, you can learn about ethically recruiting research participants, finding funding, and academic writing. There are several workshops each day throughout PG Week, and the workshops are offered throughout the academic year as well. Find out more, and book your place, via CareerHub.
Whatever form of professional development you prefer, be sure to really nurture and promote those transferable skills. Mention any completed workshops in your CV. Practice talking about the skills you’ve learned through your research. Ensure that your work experience and/or volunteer activities support the story that your postgraduate qualification will tell: “I’m a researcher. I am versatile and multi-talented. Hire me.”