Signup date: 30 May 2008 at 11:23am
Last login: 13 Jul 2017 at 12:15pm
Post count: 1964
I'm pretty sure I can tell when the advert for a technical post has been written by someone with technical knowledge and when it's written by a generalist/HR/manager person. Listing a ridiculous number of skills and/or buzzwords suggests the author doesn't really know what the job involves. Or that the job is so fuzzy that they can't pin down what is needed - never a good sign!
I think there's probably a lot of reading between the lines that can help. For example compare:
1. "Essential skill: Experienced R user (3+ years)"
2. "Essential skill: Experience of using R/SAS"
In the first case I'd rule myself out as I don't use R and even if willing to learn would be unable to get to the required level on the job in a fast enough time frame. But in the second case, even though I don't use R OR SAS, I'd consider myself eligible as I use Stata which is roughly equivalent, and the lack of detail about level of competence means I could probably persuade them to let me use Stata, or train me up in R/SAS. I would emphasise that equivalence and willingness to learn in the personal statement.
Does that interpretation sound reasonable to people with recruitment experience?
[BTW I thought in the UK it was no longer possible to specify years of experience as it is a form of age discrimination against the young. Rather, I thought the idea was that you were supposed to specify competencies instead].
It sounds like you have a really good handle on why the technique is suitable, but just need some help implementing it. That said, if you plan to get a statistician involved, I'd do it at an early stage as is possible. I've been the person people have come to at the end of a process to 'check their work' and it's very frustrating on both sides if something was flawed at the outset and the whole thing is wrong. I don't think you'd fall into that trap as you're taking a considered approach, but as a general rule I'd say the sooner the better for statistician involvement.
Does your department/faculty have any kind of central data/analysis support unit. Some places have regular drop in sessions for scenarios like this.
There's always going to be a trade off when juggling work and study, I'm afraid. Unfortunately your job isn't of the sort where one can use flexibility to your advantage (e.g. take annual leave
Can you outsource (either to a partner/family member or paying someone) any domestic duties you have responsibility for to buy yourself some more time? Can you get ahead during school holidays so as to ease the pressure during term time? Does your commute allow you time to read or at least think ahead for whatever you need to achieve that evening?
Do build into your schedule time for rest and at least one evening off per week. If you keep at it all the time eventually you become less effective unless you have a break from it.
- Put a time limit on how long you're going to volunteer in a lab. After a point you're probably not gaining anything additional and they're just exploiting you
- If you're willing to use your free time to do things which will enhance your CV, consider doing a MOOC (free course) in something related to bioinformatics or a quantitative analysis skill (e.g. learn R, python, SQL) as this might add in some extra options for you. If you're not sure what to choose, look at adverts for jobs that interest you and see if you have any obvious skill gaps you could plug via this approach.
At the end of the day, getting a job is not just about what you put on paper but how you find out about opportunities and make connections with people. There are all sorts of negative stereotypes around networking but some of them just amount to snobbery. The internet has levelled the playing field a lot when it comes to making connections with people or organisations. Take advantage!
Good luck :)
If you don't want to do a PhD then don't, though acknowledge that it does close some doors and there might be a point in the future at which you will need to reconsider. But if your heart isn't in it at the moment then don't force it.
You may well have tried all of the following but I think they are worth suggesting anyway:
- get some advice from somewhere about how different an industry job application is from an academic job application
- join LinkedIn, create a decent profile and connect with anyone you know working in a science or tech field. Then look at their contact lists and see if there's anyone you could ask them to introduce you to who could advise you about getting into your target industry (frame this very much as 'looking for advice' - it's a lot more pleasant all round than angling for an actual job). Also register for relevant job alerts as this might draw attention to companies you've not heard of
- Twitter is also good for networking but it's a slow burn and warrants a post of its own - let me know if you want to know more
- Don't just target the big companies. Try start ups and spin offs too. Finding them might require a bit of creative googling but look to see who is based at your nearest science park/tech incubator (http://www.ukspa.org.uk/)
- Join relevant mailing lists/job boards - look at JISCmail for suggestions (https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/)
- Seek out a specialist recruiter who might be able to assist you getting into an industry. Again, LinkedIn can be a good place to find these
- Check whether you can still access the career service at your former/current uni for any advice/events
- Go to any formal networking events you can find, but also look on MeetUp for informal things or groups tangentially related to your interests where you can meet people. TedX events might also be good to try
Along with Harvard, they're the best institutions in the world for this area. So I don't think you can really go wrong with whatever one you choose - both are likely to introduce you to excellent peer networks and a range of organisations.
I attended LSHTM and it was excellent but I doubt that Johns Hopkins would fail to equal it.
Where would you prefer to live? Which place/course might give you the best chance of pursuing extra-curricular stuff (i.e. things outside your host institution) that is pertinent to your career development?
If it's not too personal a question: why do you want to do a PhD by distance learning?
While distance learning is not uncommon at Bachelors or Masters level, it is much less common for PhDs. Where it does occur, some disciplines lend themselves far more than others. Bioscience generally does not. The only scenario I can think of where a distance learning approach may be preferable for a bioscience topic would be where one lived in area X which is the unique habitat of species Y which one wanted to study, but there are few/no universities locally, so a PhD would have to be accredited by a remote institution. Even then there would need to be at least a few meetings over the course of the study. Another option where it would be possible, though not necessarily preferable would be some kind of bioinformatics project analysing data generated by others. Obviously distance learning wouldn't work at all if the PhD require access to lab facilities - funding shortages being what they are, one would be unlikely to be allowed to pop into one's local university to use their lab without being a registered student.
Some further things to bear in mind:
- you have experience of distance learning, but this might not extrapolate to PhD level. There will be no classmates, no-one on the same journey. All PhDs are lonely to a degree, even if carried out face to face.
- if you go down the part time route for a lab project, make sure the experimental work lends itself to it. Some experiments can easily be put down and picked up, others require regular/daily attention. Do not get involved in cell culture! :)
- universities in the UK are increasingly hung up on students finishing 'on time' and have regulations on the maximum time allowed for completion, even for part timers. It's not very common to have part time bioscience students but I imagine 2 days a week would be the absolute minimum time permitted.
When you say 'working in criminology' do you mean as an academic or as a practitioner of some sort?
I don't imagine that it would be possible to work in academia in that field without some kind of proven research/study experience (your MPhil may or may not suffice), but access to some kind of practical training may ease your path into a practice-based role.
Be aware that the odds of anyone getting an academic job in most fields is very very slim, so bear that in mind if you're really determined to pursue that career and take an unusual route.
Hopefully you'll be able to go ahead with both. A bit of advice if you do get to enter the competition - do consider editing/redrafting for the prize if there are any particular requirements. I've reviewed essays entered for prizes before and it's very annoying if the entrant has disregarded the requirements.
The worse case of this I had is where someone had deleted spaces between words in order to scrape the word count, rather than just editing it down! As I'm not an idiot, I did notice! And penalised accordingly....
Hello Elbe. Sorry to hear of your difficulties.
Nothing is more important than your health. So if you feel you are spinning into depression I would urge you to seek support and do what you can to mitigate the triggers of that ASAP.
Do you enjoy the 40 hours a week you are spending on unpaid academic work? I ask, because it sounds like it is a means to an end (you are mainly doing it in the hope of getting a job) but I wondered whether you get enjoyment from it in its own right? Given your level of exhaustion, I would recommend not spending more than 10-20 hours a week on this, as there is probably an element of diminishing returns. Google the Pareto Principle(80:20 rule) and consider whether you could pare down the amount of time you are spending on these activities without having too detrimental an impact on the useful outputs.
Unless an unmissable opportunity arises, how about putting the academic applications on hold for a month or two. If you are jaded with the process you might not be putting together the best applications, and it would probably be good for your wellbeing to give yourself a break for a few weeks.
Finally, have you considered switching your day job? It's a common misconception that an academic role is the only worthy use of the investment that is a PhD, but there are so many worthwhile and satisfying jobs out there. If you are sinking into debt, that needs addressing ASAP, as it will only get worse. There are a world of opportunities on the spectrum between retail and academia, and it might give you a boost in a lot of ways if you explore them. You might not be able to control whether you get your desired career any time soon, but there are a lot of choices you have in your current circumstances which could improve your wellbeing soon. But you might need to take a step back to see them.
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