Careers and Employability Service
Services for research staff and PhDs

Andrew Powell

Photo of Andrew Powell

Andrew is currently working for Rolls Royce and is completing their Graduate Development Programme and this is his career profile.

After completing my undergraduate degree in the chemistry department at Nottingham, I was encouraged to stay on to complete a doctorate by the University. Conscious that I might not want to work in academia afterwards, I deliberately chose a subject that had "industry applications". Personal circumstances were also a factor, since my girlfriend had a job in the locality. I graduated in 2009 with a doctorate that examined some of the key properties in potential new lithium ion battery materials.

Following my doctorate I joined the Rolls Royce graduate scheme in the Civil Nuclear unit, through which I’ve been able to undertake a series of three-month placements throughout the company. Making a conscious decision to elect research-based placements, I’ve had the opportunity to lead investigations in a wide variety of subjects.

In the current economic climate, my PhD gave me an edge in the job market, and enabled me to get a job outside my discipline. Now I’m working, I can see how my skills, many of which were obtained or developed during my PhD, are highly relevant and required by my employers. Many of the day-to-day activities I carry out are similar to those of an academic – from literature reviews, planning experiments, presenting work, writing technical reports and interacting with collaborators - I frequently call on my experience as a researcher.

If I could give any advice to current researchers, I would emphasize the need to think about the full range of potential career paths that your PhD could lead to, and the options that are available to you. Have a clear picture of your priorities for the ideal job - including location, type of work, salary, and so on – and work towards these. Also, be prepared to justify to employers why having a PhD makes you employable - so be aware of the key transferable skills it has taught you. There’s plenty of advice available at the Careers and Employability Service and Graduate Centres to help you with this. 



Careers and Employability Service

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