What do you want?

How to reflect on your current and previous experience, and think about what you want from your career.

What do you need to know about yourself when making career decisions? Here are the factors we think are key - with tools to help you learn more. 


  • Think about what you enjoy about your PhD or Research Masters. Is it the subject that interests you? Do you enjoy the research methods you are using? Do you like the writing up? Which aspects of it do you dislike? 

  • You may enjoy the activities you are involved in, in addition to your research such as the informal training of new students, public engagement activities (presenting at science festivals is an example), or helping to organise a conference. These interests could be developed and taken forward into a career. 

  • If you’ve worked in the past in any capacity, ask yourself which aspects of that work you enjoyed - and which ones you’d prefer to avoid in the future. 

  • You will have developed many skills throughout your life, e.g. problem solving, written communication, team working. Which of these skills do you enjoy using and would like to use in a future career? 

  • What interests you outside work? Can you incorporate these interests in your career? 


  • Your values will influence your career choice. Are you driven by a need to do something "worthwhile", a desire to help others, a need for success?  

  • What does “success” mean for you? For some, it’s a large salary and a senior role, others thrive on excitement and new challenges, or the technical or intricate nature of their work. Others may be looking for stability and security or may seek as much autonomy as possible over their working day.  


  • You will have certain basic needs that have to be satisfied and which will play a part in your decision making, e.g. a minimum level of financial reward, specific geographical location, a need for job security. 


  • Consider different aspects of your personality -  are you decisive, cautious, patient, competitive, methodical? Your temperament will influence your enjoyment of,  and your success in, different job areas. 

To learn more about reflecting and developing your self-awareness (University of Edinburgh login required): 

Use our career assessment resources on topics such as Personality Insight, Motivation at Work or Temperament 

Career Assessments

Read these articles about developing self-awareness

Developing Self-Awareness  

Sign up for our workshop for PhD students; What do you want from a career? Getting started. For more details see our events listing

MyCareerHub events listing 

Make an appointment to talk to a Careers Consultant

MyCareerHub appointments