Careers Conference for Researchers

The Careers Conference for Researchers 2021 took place on Wednesday, 17 March.


The Conference offers Oxford University researchers the chance to attend panel talks with of PhD holders and former academic researchers speaking frankly about their daily working lives in a variety of sectors, a fair with employers who are actively seeking research-trained applicants  – a great opportunity to investigate options for the future, and take part in interactive workshops to help you identify skills and strategies for optimising your career preparedness.

Event registration

Registration is now closed!

This free event is open to all current Oxford DPhil students and research staff.

2021 Sponsors


We are also grateful for financial support from the Oxford University Research Staff Hub.

Expand All

The 2021 Careers Conference for Researchers took place virtually on Wednesday, 17 March. 

The Careers Conference for Researchers is for researchers who are:

  • unsure whether they want to stay in academia or wondering what their next career move might be;
  • keen to find out which employers and sectors beyond academia value the skills they have developed as an early career researcher;
  • curious to know how other researchers have applied their expertise in non-academic contexts.

Event programme

The full event programme includes a mixture of speaker panels, workshops, presentations and a recruiter fair. 

▶  Sponsors Workshop: Machine Learning in Practice

Facilitated by Thomas Caye (SIG) and Alejandro Ortega (Causalens)

Finding and quantitatively describing patterns found in data is an exciting and difficult problem. Statistics and Machine Learning provide a fast growing variety of tools to tackle it. In this session we will give a quick overview of how we use these tools to solve real-world problems. This overview will be followed by a Q&A session.

▶ Job Hunting in Tough Times – Top Tips

Finding work is particularly challenging at the moment, although we all go through difficult times when job hunting. This session will explore ways to enhance your CV, develop resilience and uncover opportunities that may not seem so obvious to you. 

Guest speaker, Vanessa Moore, has worked for over 10 years in the cultural and heritage sectors and has spent the majority of this time on project, fixed-term, and part-time contracts so she has regularly faced the challenge of finding new opportunities in an increasingly competitive workplace. In this session she will share some of the things she has learned along the way and answer your questions about taking positive action to further your career.

▶ Division-led Talks

The University of Oxford Humanties Division, Medical Sciences Division, Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division, and Social Sciences Division will all host career-focused sessions featuring panellists with a connection to disciplines in the respective divisions. 

There is no restriction which limits participants to only joining the panel run by their division, so you are welcome to attend whichever panel talk you want. There may be speakers in panels run by other Divisions who work in areas that are of interest to you. We will make the bios of all speakers available in the Conference booklet (coming soon), so you can work out who will be most helpful to listen to.

▶ LIVE Recruiter Fair

At this event, you will also have the chance to talk to employers directly. No fewer than 20 organisations who are actively seeking research-trained applicants will be in attendance.

▶ Career Management Hackathon

A hands-on session that examines and works with your transferable skills to:

  • refresh your thinking about the skills you have and generate ideas on where and how to expand these;
  • provide tools that help you reframe your perspective;
  • promote effective action to identify new opportunities, ideas and connections.

▶ Keynote Speaker Talk: Creating "smart luck" in a fast-changing world: How a serendipity mindset can help us  find our next opportunity(ies) - with Dr Christian Busch

This session will focus on how we can use uncertainty as a pathway to personal and professional success. It will explore the art and science of serendipity (unexpected positive outcomes), and discuss concrete practices on how to cultivate serendipity for personal and professional growth and success in our working lives.

Dr Christian Busch, Lead Faculty & Director, CGA Global Economy Program, New York University & Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics

Dr Christian Busch directs the Centre for Global Affairs Global Economy Program at New York University (NYU) and teaches on purpose-driven leadership, entrepreneurship, emerging markets, and (social) innovation at NYU and at the London School of Economics (LSE). Having received his PhD from the LSE, Christian has previously worked in business and consulting in Mexico, Germany, the UK, and the US. He has served as Senior Advisor for several multinational companies, and is part of the World Economic Forum's 'Expert Forum'. He is among Diplomatic Courier’s 'Top 99 Influencers', JCI's 'Ten Outstanding Persons', and is on the Thinkers50 Radar list of 30 management thinkers “most likely to shape the future of how organizations are led”.

Christian frequently speaks at conferences such as the World Economic Forum, TED/TEDx, and the Financial Times Sustainability Summit, and has guest-lectured at Stanford Business School, Peking University, IMD, and Strathmore. His research has been published widely in both academic journals and leading media institutions. Christian's bestselling book, The Serendipity Mindset (Penguin Random House), has been highlighted as a "wise, exciting, and life-changing book" (Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post); and a "bracing and hopeful antidote to a world addicted to efficiency and control".

▶  ...and more

The main purpose of this conference is to give the Oxford researcher community (research staff including postdocs, research assistants and research technicians and PhD students who are nearing completion) an opportunity to discover and explore as broad a range of career alternatives to academia as possible. We are always looking for employers who recruit staff with the technical and transferrable skills that our researchers offer to take part in these events, and for former researchers to share their knowledge and experience of moving beyond the academic sphere.


There are three ways to get involved in the conference as an employer:

  1. Sponsorship: Sponsors benefit from a range of promotional opportunities, a free spot at the employer networking lunch, plus options to participate in the event schedule. If you are interested in sponsoring the 2021 Careers Conference for Researchers, please contact
  2. Recruiter fair: The recruiter fair (previously known as the networking lunch) has been a really popular part of each of the previous conferences, and employers with current or future vacancies for staff with a researcher profile have found participation to have a positive effect on the number of Oxford researchers applying to them. If you regularly recruit staff with research expertise and high-level technical skills and you would like to know more about taking part in this session in our next conference, please contact
  3. Panel sessions: If you already have members of staff who left academic research (PhD or a postdoc/research assistant/technician role) within the last seven years, we may be able to include them as speakers for one of the conference panel sessions. Panel speakers typically give a short, informal talk (no slides needed) about their current role, experience of leaving academia/entering their current sector, tips on how to prepare for career transition etc., and take part in a Q&A session at the end of the panel. Do you have a staff member who could take part in this way? Our researchers really appreciate being able to hear from others who have taken the steps that they are contemplating. For more information contact

Former researchers

If you have moved out of academia within the last seven years or so, enjoy sharing your experience of making that move with others and are willing to do so in a conference session, please get in touch with us. We’re always looking for panel speakers (see details under ‘Panel sessions’ above), and are grateful to everyone who finds the time to share their knowledge in this way. Please contact to find out how you can be part of our next conference.

Conference brochures

The conference brochures contain details of all of the sessions taking place at each event. These include bios for speakers and workshop facilitators and an overview of employers who took part in the employer networking lunches.

We are proud to have persuaded speakers with fantastically varied research backgrounds and from a wide range of sectors and companies to take part in the panel sessions at each of our previous conferences. Browsing through their bios is a great way to start thinking about potential routes beyond academia. Be open-minded as you look, and don’t read only the panels most closely aligned to your research area; many of these bios give evidence of inspiring degrees of career flexibility.


Looking for more?

Check the CareerConnect platform for all our upcoming events and opportunities, book appointments, find jobs and internships, and more.

Login to CareerConnect