Explore postgraduate career options in person

Although desk research can be helpful to get you started, exploring your career options by talking to people can:

  • Stop you going getting trapped in a cycle of reading more and more career profiles, yet still feeling confused about your own career.
  • Start to build your network, which could actually generate career opportunities in future.

Doctoral researchers - attend Pathways

Each June, we run a major university-wide careers event for PhDs and post-docs, 'Pathways: Career Options for Researchers'. This is your chance to talk informally to over 60 PhD-qualified professionals in a range of academic and non-academic careers, plus a small selection of employers interested in PhDs.

  • You can attend Pathways in any, or all years of your PhD. Your career interests often change over the lifetime of your PhD and each year we have both new and old panellists and employers to talk to.

Join a professional association and attend events

Some professional bodies which are closely linked to academic disciplines organise conferences, prizes or careers events specifically for postgraduates. However, even attending local social events could mean you are mingling with potential future interviewers.

Examples of professional associations include:

  • Those related to your field, such as Institute of Physics, or the British Society for Eighteenth Century Studies.
  • Those related to a professional occupation, such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment or the Social Research Association.

Trade associations represent employers in specific sectors and in most cases are not open to individual membership.

However, they do sometimes organise trade conferences and exhibitions (although these are generally not aimed at providing careers information). Find out where they are exhibiting and if the general public is allowed to attend, you could go along to find out more about the sector and potentially make some good contacts. Most people won't do this so you may find your resourcefulness and commitment gets you noticed.

Looking outside the UK?

Some professional and trade associations are truly international. Others are local to a country or region. To find associations outside the UK, try using Passport Career. This is an international job and career resource, licensed for use by current University of Manchester students and recent graduates (login required). It gives you access to country profiles, including details of professional and social networks for each country.

Talk to the Careers Service

We don't just write web resources, organise Careers Fairs and employer events, advertise vacancies, blog and tweet careers news, deliver talks and workshops, run mentoring and internship programmes, and support volunteering - we also love to listen to you.

Who can you talk to?

  1. Careers information specialists - Our front-line staff who can answer many of your queries directly, or refer you to the appropriate support, such as booked appointments. They also deal with all our queries in CareerConnect. This is who you will first meet when you contact the Careers Service. As they are mostly postgraduates themselves, they are your ideal first point of support.
  2. Applications adviser student interns - Our CV and application feedback specialists, who staff our Application Advice service. They are trained and employed by the Careers Service to deliver applications advice. Some are postgraduates themselves so they are entirely familiar with the challenges of applying for jobs as a postgraduate.
  3. Careers consultants - Specialists in supporting careers for all students, including individual discussions on career choice, job hunting strategies and practice interviews. You'll meet them on careers stands around campus, delivering talks, workshops and careers events, and if you pre-book a careers appointment. Our consultants have a wide range of backgrounds including extensive managerial and recruitment experience.

What can we help you with?

  • Career options and choice - We can't tell you which career is right for you, or give you all the alternatives, but we can help you figure out what is important to you, and direct you to resources or strategies to help you come to your own conclusion.
  • Improving your employment prospects - We can give you suggestions for developing your skills, experience and contacts to improve your chances of finding your ideal career.
  • Finding jobs - We can direct you to strategies and resources to find the types of job you are looking for. This is rarely as simple as 'here's a list of employers/jobs-sites for ...' (though we can sometimes do this). It's more likely to be a strategy for uncovering the very specific jobs which are often targeted by postgraduates.
  • Individual help with applications and interviews - We give you feedback on how you can improve your applications or interview technique, rather than correcting your CV for you.

How to make the most of careers events as a postgraduate

Attend (non-academic) employer careers events - CareerConnect has a searchable database of all the University of Manchester Careers Service events and more (University of Manchester login required).

Are 'graduate' careers events worth attending as a postgraduate?

It all depends on what type of jobs you're looking for, what experience you already have, and whether employers you want to talk to will be at the event.

Our guide, How to make the most of careers events as a postgraduate, debates the pros and cons, and tells you how to get the most out of those careers events you do attend.

How to find potential career contacts

Use your contacts to find people prepared to talk to you about your careers. Sounds scary?

Our guide, 'How to network without hassling your contacts ' makes it easy to understand the etiquette of networking.

Got no contacts - or not the right ones? You probably have more potential contacts than you realise. Use our guide, How to find potential career contacts to uncover your network.