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Developing skills is so easy, you might not even know you are doing it!

Doing a postgraduate course is a perfect opportunity to develop your transferable skills before the inevitable leap from education into the real world. You are in a perfect situation, in that your time is still relatively flexible and you have access to university support and courses. I am now in the third year of my PhD, which I am studying within the department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease. We are actively encouraged to be involved in doctoral development programmes to increase and improve both transferable and research-specific skills, and I have definitely made the most of the courses on offer. I hugely encourage all post-grads to check out the university webpages for skill building opportunities in your faculty and university wide – there are loads to choose from! 

However, you don’t just have to attend specific courses to be able to develop useful skills. I have gained the majority of my transferable skills without even realising I was doing it! Just on a day to day basis, in the lab, working on my project and communicating to the people around me. This has helped me to improve many skills, including:

Problem solving
Remaining motivated
Communication with professionals inside and outside my research area
Intra and interpersonal skills
Time management
Counselling/agony aunt
Independent learning

This list could go on and on! These are the skills that will help me secure a job and work within a new community of people, post-PhD. However, a major skill that I find often gets overlooked but I found to be my most useful is having confidence in your own abilities. When I started my PhD, I was nervous about working independently and being left to my own devices. Now, after three years, new techniques and problems don’t faze me anywhere near as much as they used to. When I am in a new group setting, I feel more confident that I have will have something useful to contribute.

When the time comes for me to make that leap into the real world and start my career outside of research and academia, I am positive that a change out of my comfort zone is well within my abilities, something which I didn’t feel before I started my postgraduate experience.

Chloe Marshall, PhD researcher (The Medical School)
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