Advice on supporting your students in developing their academic career, exploring careers beyond academia, and applying for jobs, including advice on how to write a reference for them. Supporting your students in developing an academic career You will already be helping your students gain the necessary experience for an academic career by supporting them with their research. Other ways you might offer support are as follows: Encourage your students to look at our academic career pages so they know what to expect. An academic career Encourage them to create a strategy for publishing research. Remind them from the start to think about writing and organising their research in a way that will facilitate publication Advise them where to publish their work (and where and when not to) If the publishing process is very specific to your discipline, think about getting together with colleagues to run a short training session Encourage them to prepare for making funding applications. Remind them to look at the examples of successful funding applications on the Edinburgh Research Office website Ask them to write a small part of applications you make for funding or give feedback on your applications Suggest they apply for travel grants for conferences or other small grants Encourage them to register for Research Professional funding alerts... ...and to attend funding workshops offered by the Research Support Office Edinburgh Research Office Encourage them to develop their network. Encourage them to go to conferences and, where appropriate, present their work Introduce them to other researchers with common or overlapping interests Ask them to attend and help organise departmental seminar series, to meet speakers from other institutions Encourage them to develop a social media strategy to engage in a dialogue about their research Social Media for Researchers and Supervisors Encourage them to develop teaching experience. Searching out formal opportunities for tutoring, demonstrating or teaching on courses within your School (or, if their work is interdisciplinary, in an associated School) Developing or delivering one or two lectures for courses you organise or on which you lecture Attending workshops on effective tutoring and demonstrating offered by the Institute for Academic Development Looking for other opportunities to gain teaching experience, e.g. developing courses for Centre for Open Learning Further assistance The Institute for Academic Development offers online courses and workshops to support PhD students in managing their research. Topics covered include creative problem solving in research, how to be an effective researcher, writing a literature review, and more. Institute for Academic Development Exploring careers beyond academia with your students Students can be apprehensive about discussing other career options with their supervisor, fearing they come across as lacking commitment to their research. An open, supportive conversation can help to: articulate why they are considering a career beyond academia dispel any misconceptions about the academic / research career route identify strengths developed through their research which they can apply to a future career, whether in academia or elsewhere note any skills which may be under-developed and encourage them to look for opportunities to develop them encourage them to think about career options linked to their research You may be able to help your students to explore their career options in a variety of ways: tell them what external bodies have been interested in your research or who you have carried out research on behalf of have you acted as a consultant external to the university? Suggest contacts who could talk about opportunities to your student put them in touch with previous PhD students who have gone on to careers outside academia If appropriate, encourage them to explore the possibility of a short internship or period of work experience in an area indirectly linked to their PhD. The College office may be able to help negotiate conditions with funding bodies if relevant. Encourage your students to look at our information on career options for PhD graduates Career options for PhDs - discover what's out there Preparing for applications and interviews Encourage your students to use our information and advice when preparing an application or for an interview, whether academic or not. Marketing yourself effectively - make it happen You will be well-placed to support your students in preparing for academic interviews. You may wish to do this by: listening to their recruitment presentation and giving feedback giving them an idea of what type of questions to expect at interview offering to give them a mock or practice interview Research funding applications: the Edinburgh Research Office runs workshops on applying for funding, giving tips on the requirements for specific funders. They also have a database of successful funding applications to view online and will provide feedback on application drafts if given enough time. Edinburgh Research Office Writing references As a supervisor you will be asked to supply references for your students and graduates. These guidelines will help you ensure best practice and avoid any pitfalls. Content The reference must be accurate, fair and transparent. You should avoid making unsubstantiated or potentially misleading statements. Keep the information fact based and support your claims with evidence. Avoid supposition and use qualifying statements if needed, e.g. ‘To the best of my knowledge’. Many employers will issue a reference pro-forma, but you may be asked to provide an open reference. If so, you are advised to follow the guidance below. What to include The capacity in which you know the student Confirmation of dates of study, degree subject, relevant grades and related modules Notable academic achievements: awards, bursaries, competitions Comments on the student’s academic ability, personal qualities, skills and suitability for the role. Participation in extra or co-curricular activities. Internships and work experience. Focus on positive points where possible. Discuss any concerns with the student beforehand. What to exclude Opinion or personal comments that are irrelevant to the position Defamatory statements Information relating to a student’s health or mental state, ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation Managing the process Raise the subject with students early in their penultimate year. Encourage students to keep you informed of their career plans – ask them to share their CV or application(s) and details of jobs or postgraduate courses. Respond to reference requests within the agreed timeframe. Avoid giving telephone references where possible. It is best to have a written record. Maintain a consistent format to avoid allegations of favouritism. Store references in the appropriate place Although there is no statutory duty to supply references, it is established practice at Edinburgh for supervisors to fulfil this role. If you are unable, uncomfortable to unwilling to provide a reference please inform the student (or graduate) as soon as possible, clearly stipulating your reasons The legal context You do not need the student’s consent to provide a reference. The legal basis is *performance of a contract” as the student wishes to enter into an employment contract. It’s the same for giving references for students making an application for further study. That is also “steps taken towards a contract” so the legal basis is the same. You must not provide confidential references, only a reference you would be prepared to share with the student. There is a legal obligation to use due care when compiling a reference in order to ensure its accuracy. As references involve the sharing, handling and disclosure of personal data, they are subject to the General Data Protection Regulation. This information was provided by Dr Rena Gertz, (PC.dp), Data Protection Officer, University of Edinburgh who confirmed it will be provided to students too.