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The Micro-Placement Programme for Research Staff | The Careers Service The Micro-Placement Programme for Research Staff – Oxford University Careers Service
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What are micro-placements?

Micro-placements are 2-5-day voluntary work experience placements facilitated by the University of Oxford. These placements are designed to give university employed research staff an opportunity to further develop key employability skills and competencies required by organisations; such as commercial awareness, communication skills and team-work.

Placements will take place in Week 6 (Monday 18 – Friday 22 November) and Week 7 (Monday 25-Friday 29 November) of Michaelmas Term. A full breakdown of key dates for Michaelmas term 2019 can be found here. You can find the list of this term’s available placements here, or on CareerConnect.

Whilst micro-placements are voluntary and unpaid, host organisations must cover successful applicants local travel expenses (please note that this is within the relevant city, e.g. within Oxford, and does not cover inter-city travel) and lunch expenses on production of receipts.

If you are an organisation looking to offer a micro-placement then please take a look at our Micro-Internships Employer Information webpage.

What will I do?

The focus of the placement is to observe and assist with a notable project. There are a broad range of placements across various sectors and types of organisations. Placements will not necessarily be research based and could be anything from communications to event planning or consulting to marketing.

Projects may be self-contained or form part of a larger, on-going project. You could also be involved with multiple related projects over the course of the placement. Your experience will usually be accompanied by work shadowing, offering insight into the professional workings and daily life at your host organisation.

Quotes from last terms participants on what they did during their placement

“I was conducting some background research as part of preparations to undertake trips to visit indigenous peoples to gain an understanding of how they interact with the environment and what we can learn from them, and if/how their views on disability differ from a Western perspective. I was also a guest on a podcast discussing environmental topics, created some radio jingles, recorded and edited a soundscape, and assisted on an outdoor workshop taking members of the public on a walk through Cowley marsh.” Research Staff member who undertook a Micro-placement with Wildman Environmental Learning

“I was asked to think about ethical issues in public engagement, and to put together a guidance sheet on ethics that could be given to academics at the beginning of public engagement projects. This was to be done through a combination of online literature review, interviews with academics from different disciplines (3 in total) and meetings with other University teams (Public Engagement with Research Advisory Group and Research Ethics and Integrity team).”- Research Staff member who undertook a Micro-placement with University of Oxford Research Services (Public Engagement with Research)

“Literature review investigating case studies of organisation across various industries in developed and developing countries that assessed the relationship between organisation culture and other factors related to business and employee performance.” – Research Staff member who undertook a Micro-placement with Pamela Steele Associates

“The project consisted of generating ready-to-use science kits for researchers to be used in public engagement events. On top of that, I also carried out some editing work for the newsletter, managed the Twitter account of the RDM and attended a public engagement event assisting in the preparation of one stall.” – Research Staff member who undertook a Micro-placement with Radcliffe Department of Medicine

Why do a micro-placement?

There are many significant benefits to micro-placements, including:

  • Enhancing your CV
  • Potential to acquiring new employability skills such as presentation and communication skills, and commercial awareness.
  • Opportunity to utilise your existing skills in a different setting, such as problem solving and working with others.
  • Opportunity to explore career options, gain experience in a sector that is new to you, and/or experience an area outside of your field of research.
  • Providing an insight into a particular sector or type of organisation.
  • Opportunity to network with professionals with potential for further work experience or career opportunities.

Quotes from last terms participants and why they took part in the programme

“The micro-placement was excellent and fascinating! Everyone that I met during my placement was supportive and generous with their time, and astonishingly willing to talk to me about their roles and their opinions about ethics in public engagement. I was genuinely rather touched at the amount of work that the office put into preparing a good experience for me. My time was filled and structured, but there was plenty of opportunity for me to tailor the task at hand as I saw fit, and I came away feeling like I had completed a worthwhile project.” –  Post-doctoral Researcher, University of Oxford

“I found the project interesting and creative. It was nicely designed so that I would have some training at the beginning to know how to devise the task ahead. It has given me a real-world experience of a sector I am very interested in and encouraged me to keep an eye in case there are opportunities.”  – Post-doctoral Research Scientist, University of Oxford

Applying for a micro-placement

Who can apply?

The programme is designed especially for university employed research staff at grade 6 or above, who are currently on a fixed term contract or have finished their fixed term contract in the past 12 months. Research Staff positions can include postdocs, research assistants, bioinformatics/technicians, college-based junior research fellows or temporary teaching staff who do research alongside. If you are unsure if you meet this criteria, please contact

Our placements hosts welcome applications from all sectors of the community, and many are especially keen to encourage individuals with disabilities and candidates from under-represented groups to apply.

Taking time off to undertake a placement

All postdocs and research staff are encouraged to take dedicated time for professional development of their choosing within their contracted time according to University policy and it is advised that research staff plan development time into their year.

Current policy states that up to 5 days can be taken for professional development for those working in departments within the Medical Sciences Division and up to 10 days for those within MPLS and Humanities. Social sciences are similarly supportive but have not set specific allocations.

Ultimately, we advise speaking to your PI directly about if you are able to undertake your placement as part of your dedicated time for professional development. If you are unsure how to approach this with your PI, seek advice from your departmental administrator or divisional HR manager.

If you are a research staff member employed by a college, please contact your departmental administrator for further guidance on the college’s policy for professional development.

When to apply

  • Wednesday 9 October 2019: placements will be advertised
  • Monday 28 October 2019 (midday): application deadline
  • By Friday 8 Novermber: All applicants informed of outcome

Where to apply

All micro-placements are advertised on CareerConnect. Once logged in go to Search & Apply under the Internship Office and Skills Programmes tab, and then select ‘The Micro-Placement Programme for Research staff’ from the Programme drop-down on the Refine search toolbar (on the left side of the page) in order to identify and view all opportunities currently available. See pages 16-20 in our comprehensive guide to using CareerConnect for information on searching and applying for micro-placements.

Micro-placements are also advertised on our Facebook page, the Careers Service Twitter, and on the Careers Service blog.

How to apply

You may apply for two micro-placements, although to ensure fairness and accessibility across the programme, you may only accept one placement offer (even if the placements would be in different weeks).

Click on ‘Apply Now’ on the respective vacancy page on CareerConnect and follow the instructions provided. You will be required to upload a file of a two-page CV and write a 300-word personal statement in the application form. Your CV can be a pdf file or a Word document. For CVs or personal statements longer than the application requirement, the Internship Office reserves the right to reduce them accordingly without notifying the student.

Please note that we are unable to accept late applications or applications sent by email; therefore please make your application(s) before midday on deadline day. It is your responsibility to ensure that your application has been submitted successfully and that you have received an automatic confirmation email. If you have not received a confirmation email for each application within three hours of submitting, or if you are experiencing any other technical problems, please contact

Application support

The Careers Office will run Application Support Sessions which are 15-minute 1:1 appointments and must be booked via CareerConnect (please see the Events tab).

If you would like further support with your application, we recommend taking a look at our website for guidance on CVs, cover letters, and demonstrating that you fit the job criteria. You can also make an appointment with a Careers Adviser.

Follow the Careers Service blog in order to receive the Application Support Session schedule.

What happens after I’ve applied?

Once the deadline has passed, the Internship Office sends all applications to hosts for selection, although does not take part in the selection itself. Hosts may contact applicants for interviews or telephone calls.

The Internship Office will communicate all application outcomes. Successful candidates have two days to accept or decline an offer. You may only accept one offer. The Internship Office will then connect successful applicants with their host via email so arrangements can be made prior to the placement week. Some hosts choose to arrange a meeting or induction prior to the placement.

Preparing for your placement

If your application to a micro-placement is successful, the Internship Office will provide information on preparing for and getting the most out of your placement.

Employers have given up their time to offer your placement and will have organised a project for you to undertake and therefore it is important that once accepted that you do complete your placement.


All hosts must fully reimburse local travel (within the relevant city) and lunch expenses. All expenses are reimbursed only on submission of receipts.

This information was last updated on 16 October 2019.
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Recent blogs about The Micro-Placement Programme for Research Staff

Closing Soon: Micro-Placements for Research Staff

Blogged by Joe O'Connor on 22/10/2019.

Closing Soon: Micro-Placements for Research Staff – personal development opportunities  for university-employed research staff

The deadline for this term’s Micro-Placements Programme for Research Staff is Monday 28 October at midday. Micro-placements are 2-5 day voluntary work experience placements facilitated by the University of Oxford and which are intended to give you experience in a new sector, enable you to practice a number of employability skills, and also offer an engaging and interesting project.

This term’s placements include research into the impact of AirBnb on Oxford’s homelessness problem for a local charity, working with a tech spinout on data visualization and analysis of their battery technology, and helping the Oxford Martin School develop policies which enable them to practice what they preach on organizational environmental impact.

You can find the full list of available placements here, or on CareerConnect.

If you are interested in the programme but none of the placements are right for you, please contact Joe O’Connor at, so that he can record this and include your feedback in the review of the pilot.

Free resources for legal careers!

Blogged by Juliet Tomlinson on 22/10/2019.

The Careers Service has now taken delivery of the following resources; these are very much aimed at students who wish to pursue careers as solicitors or barristers and they will provide advice and guidance which will aid your research.  They contain information on work experience, legal education providers, training contracts and pupillages, law firms and chambers and much more.  Just drop by to 56 Banbury Road and collect your free copies.

We have available:

The Handbook, the Lex 100, TargetJobs Vac Schemes and Mini Pupillages and TargetJobs Law, All About Law n.b.Nota Bene and the Chambers Student Guide 2020.

These guides will also be available at the Law Fair on 9 November but some of them are heavy so you may much prefer to have your copy in advance!

Start-up Visa Endorsement Application – Information Session

Blogged by Brianna Thompson on 16/10/2019.

This information session (with the Student Visa and Immigration Office and Endorsement Panel Chair) is an opportunity to better understand what the endorsement panel at Oxford are looking for, and the process of making your application. We strongly advise anyone thinking of making an application for endorsement to attend.

When: 7 November 2019, 9:15-10:00
Where: The Careers Service, 56 Banbury Road
TO BOOK A PLACE at this discussion contact with your name and, if applicable, the course and year(s) of study at the University of Oxford.

We are keen to support entrepreneurial activity at all levels and encourage people from any discipline and with any sort of business idea to apply.

More information can be found on our visas page or you can sign up to our Start-up Visa mailing list.

Business Career Alternatives to Management Consultancy – come along to the Oxford Careers Fair to find out more…

Blogged by Lara Hayward on 16/10/2019.

Many students in Oxford feel that they hear a lot about management consultancy and not enough about other options. If you are interested in having a high impact business career, whilst exploring entrepreneurship, social impact and business with purpose, this keynote talk is for you.

Cambridge graduate and successful businessman, Will Gardner, will speak about his career working for companies like Unilever and Mars, and how he has ended up championing purposeful business and supporting leaders in making their businesses purpose and value driven.

Will’s talk will take place from 12:30-13:15 at the Oxford University Careers Fair at the Exams Schools on Saturday, 19 October.

 About Will Gardner

Will developed his passion for Purposeful Business when he led the co-creation and rollout of Unilever’s ‘Crafting Brands for Life’ Way of Marketing – inspiring and equipping Unilever’s global community of 6,000 marketers to put social Purpose at the heart of the company’s brands.

He subsequently started up and led, a digital media and collaboration business focused on accelerating the shift to sustainable ways of living and consumption. Born from discussions at the World Economic Forum, partners included Unilever, Google, M&S, BT and Salesforce.

Will served for six years as Trustee for Sightsavers, the leading international NGO tackling avoidable blindness. He’s a B Leader, a Vistage speaker, an RSA Fellow and an Ambassador for the Positive Innovation Club.

An experienced strategist, marketer and change leader, Will believes that purposeful business is the key to unleash the full potential of employees, customers, and partners to do extraordinary things for people, planet and profit. It takes logic and magic to do it brilliantly: the logic of a well-crafted strategy and disciplined execution; the magic of compelling storytelling to draw people in and inspire them to action.

For further information see:

Interested in careers in the Creative Industries? Sign up for the Creative Industries Pathway events

Blogged by Lara Hayward on 15/10/2019.

The Creative Industries Pathway is a series of talks, workshops and events for researchers interested in working with the Creative Industries. It’s open to all students, staff and researchers at the University of Oxford and is free to attend.

Available for booking:

Find out more on the Torch website >> and

Sign up to receive updates on Creative Industries events, opportunities and funding >>

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