Over the last two weeks, I managed to achieve quite a lot: I attended two Summer Schools – the SGSSS Summer School, hosted by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science, and the European Doctoral Programme in Career Guidance and Counselling (ECADOC), hosted by the NICE Foundation – and I presented five times: once at the SGSSS Summer School; three times at ECADOC; and once to my colleagues at the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI) in preparation for my upcoming participation at the ECIL conference. And I’m not even done for the summer – I’ve also got the Essex Summer School (ESS) coming up next month, where I’ll be taking a comprehensive mixed methods course!
So far, I’ve attended a total of 18 training sessions on the following topics: the journal publication process; research methods; career development for PhD researchers; career theory; tools for categorising and critiquing career theory; collective academic supervision; and interdisciplinarity. And guess what – I’ve attended all of them for free. Ah, the perks of being a social science PhD student in Scotland!
- My training needs are assessed every year and I receive a generous training stipend to contribute towards training that will help address those training needs.
- I am offered multiple opportunities to reflect on my training needs and discuss them with people who are qualified to advise both on my career development as a PhD student and as an interdisciplinary researcher. For instance:
- Every year, I am invited by the SGSSS to complete a training needs analysis and to speak to an interdisciplinary research methods expert;
- Within my university, my supervisory team supports me to identify suitable training opportunities for my training needs;
- I am able to meet a Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) adviser to talk about how my training needs fit with the RDF Vitae framework whenever I need to;
- I also have a mentor – Dr Lyndsey Middleton – who is a past student on the SDS/SGSSS collaborative PhD programme and was awarded her PhD last year. She is now an Assistant Statistician at the Scottish Government!
What is really remarkable here is that I am not just funded to do my PhD. My funders are also investing in my professional development, and have put a support network in place which affords me access to people, guidance, resources at any point in my studies.
This training needs pipeline produces great results as well. Not only do I get to identify my training needs through a streamlined process, but I also get to generate ideas for training that can be developed in the future or even designed and delivered by myself!
Speaking of training that is designed and delivered by myself, I was pleased to be invited to deliver “Changing research plans: How to move forward in times of uncertainty” again at the SGSSS Summer School after previously having won funding through the SGSSS Student-led Training Fund (SLTF) to deliver this training earlier this year together with my PhD colleague Thokozani Kachale.
You can read more about the session and the SGSSS Summer school in this blog post that I wrote for my research group’s “Social Informatics Research” blog. You can also download our training slides and research adaptations template here and here.
At ECADOC, I presented three times: once about Systems Theory Framework, once about my own research, and once about research adaptations in the ‘new normal’ of careers research together with my PhD colleagues Katherine Stephen and Marianne Wilson.
The last of these three presentations was an updated version of the “Changing research plans” SGSSS training. This third iteration of the training came about because I was approached by the ECADOC organisers with a suggestion to adapt the session for a career development audience (they had previously heard about it from the SGSSS while discussing ways to embed research skills development into the ECADOC programme). In contrast with earlier iterations of the training, where we talked about research adaptations within the social sciences amidst the pandemic, here we focused on the post-pandemic landscape, and on the challenges and opportunities that are specific to the career development field. I was really humbled to hear that the ECADOC organisers thought that the session would be of interest to a career development audience. It felt like a huge acknowledgment and vote of confidence to be invited to present alongside leading career development experts such as Dr Mary McMahon, Dr Julia Yates, and Dr Tristram Hooley, as well as journal editors and representatives from SGSSS and SDS.
Slides for my three ECADOC presentations can be found below: