Careers Conference for Researchers | The Careers Service Careers Conference for Researchers – Oxford University Careers Service
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WHEN: Wednesday 25 March 2020, 9:00 18:00
WHERE: Manor Road Building, Oxford, OX1 3UQ

Please note that this event is now cancelled

The next Careers Conference for Researchers will now run in 2021: as soon as we have a date for this we will let you know. We encourage you to preserve the time you dedicated on the 25 March for your career. Here are some practical suggestions:

  • Read the speaker bios in the conference brochure and career profiles on, for inspiration around potential next steps; they have been in your shoes!
    • Consider ways to expand your insights into new professional areas, such as joining the team of Oxford researchers who select people to profile on and jointly edit new submissions.
  • Book a 1:1 appointment with a Careers Adviser to discuss these, how to develop your professional network or any other career-related matter. We are running appointments by phone and have added more slots on the 25 March. Please book via CareerConnect.
  • For upcoming workshops/seminars, please check the events calendar on CareerConnect.
  • Sign up for the free course: Career Management for Early Career Academic Researchers
What to expect
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Are you wondering what your next career move might be? Keen to find out which employers and sectors beyond academia value the skills you have developed as an early career researcher? Curious to know how other researchers have applied their expertise in non-academic contexts?

Our fourth annual Careers Conference for Researchers offers research staff and 3rd/4th year DPhil students the opportunity to explore a range of rewarding career pathways. You will hear PhD holders and former academic researchers speak frankly about their daily working lives in a variety of sectors. A networking lunch with employers who are actively seeking research-trained applicants gives further scope for investigating options for the future. Interactive workshops in the afternoon will help you identify skills and strategies for optimising your career preparedness, and our closing drinks provide a further chance for conversations with recruiters and former researchers.

Up to date information about the 2020 conference programme can be found below.

If you’re an employer or a PhD holder working in a non-academic setting and would like to know more about taking part in the conference, please email

New for 2020

The Oxford finals of the Vitae Three Minute Thesis competition will be incorporated into the conference. For more information on this wonderful initiative see the Vitae website, and watch this space for details of how to register as a competitor (DPhil students only).

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We are delighted to announce confirmed speakers from a wide range of organisations:

  • NatCen Social Research
  • Brill Power
  • The British Museum
  • Catapult Satellite Applications
  • Newton Europe
  • The Design Council
  • Earthwatch
  • Mishcon de Reya
  • The National Trust
  • NHS England
  • Scriptoria
  • Oxford Pharmagenesis
  • The Refugee Council
  • Aspect Ecology
  • Royal Mail
  • Susquehanna International Group
  • Blenheim Estate
  • …with more in the pipeline!

Speakers have backgrounds in diverse academic research fields. See panel outlines below.

Panel talks
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We will run eight panels during the morning, four for the first hour and four in the second hour.

We hope you will choose panels that interest you even if they don’t seem obvious next steps. Most panels have speakers with doctoral research experience spanning the natural sciences, humanities and/or social sciences, so that you can see how people made the transition from a background similar to yours.

Here are the panel outlines with speakers’ research backgrounds, details of which may change:

Panel 1: Working with Data in a Business Context

There is a wealth of opportunity to use your analytical and numerical skills to meet key business aims, in highly quantitative roles and others. Come and hear what three people in logistics, consultancy and the quantitative finance sector do each day, and how they are building on their research skills to make things happen more efficiently and effectively.

Speaker backgrounds: Astrophysics, Electrical Engineering, Mathematics

Panel 2: Working in the Creative Industries

The creative industries sector is booming, employing more than 2 million people across the UK and contributing over £100 billion to the national economy in 2018. Developing a professional self in the creative industry can, at first glance, seem like a big departure from academic research yet more people are doing this than we realise. Opportunities span design, animation, museums and gallery work, IT and digital technology, visual arts, marketing and much more. This panel is a rare opportunity to learn from experience, reflect on any personal challenges and hear how a research background can help set one up well.

Speaker backgrounds: Law, Sustainable Design, Zoology

Panel 3: Careers in the Sustainability, Energy and Ecology Sectors

Meeting our environmental targets is a growing global priority. Yet it can be difficult to understand what roles exist that value researcher perspectives or training, and to see examples of rewarding work at local, national or international levels. Our speakers are from small and large organisations in the private (and public) sector.

Speaker backgrounds: Environmental Science, Zoology, Engineering Science

Panel 4: Working in Policy and Think-Tanks

With society and politics in flux across the globe, there is enormous need for skilled policy-makers and insightful expertise to guide our conversations on an array of policy sectors. Speakers on this panel will share personal experience of their daily working lives, how they moved from academia to policy-facing roles and suggestions of what you can do now to strengthen your chances of gaining a foothold in the policy world.

Speaker backgrounds: Social Statistics, South Asian studies, Social Policy and Intervention, International Development

Panel 5: Professional and Strategic Roles in Business (non-R&D)

Do you enjoy the strategic and project management aspects of your current research role as much as your subject knowledge? Did you know there are many other roles in the commercial sector that value your skills beyond the obvious research and development ones? You may be wondering what kind of opportunities exist and what these involve on a day-to-day basis. We will hear from speakers who now have leadership roles in companies in a range of sectors: space, legal, technology and sustainable development communications.

Speaker backgrounds: International Relations, Biological Sciences, Robotics/Engineering

Panel 6: Careers in Heritage and Culture

Keen to conserve and enrich our cultural landscape, or to expand public access to such treasures? In this panel we’ll hear from three people with wide-ranging backgrounds and responsibilities that span scientific expertise, engagement and management.  They will share details of their daily working lives and how the steps that prepared them for their current roles. Bring your questions!

Speaker backgrounds: Classics, Egyptology/Archaeology, English Language and Literature

Panel 7: Writing and Communications for Non-Academic Purposes

An ability to convey information effectively is a much sought-after skill and one that researchers frequently have, or are well-positioned to develop. We will hear from three people who have taken their doctoral skills into a range of companies that rely on timely, focused communication to help their clients make decisions. Come and hear about their various work environments and daily activities, and bring your questions about preparing for such roles after time in academia.

Speaker backgrounds: Biochemistry, Zoology, Political Economy and Psychology

Panel 8: Advocacy and Research for Social and Environmental Impact

During doctoral work, many of us see opportunities to bring our technical expertise into the public or voluntary sector. Yet we may wonder what it’s like to work in an NGO or foundation, what scope there to make a difference and how to make an effective transition. Come, with your questions, to hear from three people with PhDs in the physical and social sciences, working in research, advocacy and engagement roles.

Speaker backgrounds: Geography, Primatology, Psychology & Research Methods

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After the networking lunch there will be five workshops running in parallel (lasting 1.5 hours)

Provisionally, these will focus on:

  • Creating new opportunities to use your research expertise 
  • Engaging with policy as a career move
  • Data science opportunities you might not anticipate!
  • Identifying and packaging your transferable skills 
  • Dealing with the emotional side of career transition
This information was last updated on 29 May 2020.
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