Clare Jones, senior careers advisor at Nottingham University, is our Naturejobs Expert this coming month.
What is your scientific background?
I am sorry to say that I struggled with science at school and only continued with biology to O’level and even managed to be unsuccessful at that stage. However if the researchers I work with can explain their science to me they are certainly developing that great skill of being able to communicate effectively to a non-scientist.
Why did you decide to leave academia?
Actually I’m a career changer into academia. I’ve had an eclectic career journey beginning with a short career commission in the (then) Women’s Royal Naval Service followed by working mainly in the not-for-profit and government sectors. I moved into HE to work on skills and employability projects before qualifying as a Careers Adviser and then specialising in working with Early Career Researchers.
Why did you decide to take on the role you have now?
I was working at Swansea University as the Employability and Skills Officer and decided to ask my boss if I could take on extra duties as a Careers Adviser. Why? – because I was on a fixed term contract and realised that investing in some additional work and getting a qualification within HE Careers work might provide a more “secure” career route, a way out of the fixed term contract insecurities. My role at Swansea was inevitably going to come to an end and so I wanted to take a proactive approach to my career rather than waiting for something to happen. The role at Nottingham was advertised just as I qualified and it was a new post working with ECRs and it looked really interesting, a bit different to other roles and a chance to develop a new area of work – all things I had a history of doing. So here I am 10 years later and still enjoying it!
How do you want to help scientists in their careers?
Working in academia is very challenging and sometimes researchers lose touch with the breadth and depth of the competencies, skills and behaviours they have. They also may not have explored other careers outside academia and when faced with a decision about staying or going I am able to offer an impartial and confidential opportunity to talk through options and make informed and confident decisions about their future career direction. I also support those who are continuing in academia.
Why did you chose the questions below for your audience to vote on?
I based these questions on themes that recur in my individual guidance interviews with Post docs and PhD students and on areas that perhaps they don’t want to talk about yet with their supervisors, PIs or research managers. Some have a hidden or additional theme behind the question, for example, question one can be answered in a factual way but may also generate a discussion on wider commitment and understanding of the academic career pathway and is it what the individual really wants? Question two is also expressing concern about making career decisions as well as knowledge of career options. I have therefore tried to provide questions that will enable me to cover a number of points in the response.
Tell us something about yourself?
My other passion is golf, handicap 11 and I’ve been Lady Captain at three different golf clubs which is a bit unusual (most people do it once) so I think I may suffer from “not-able-to-say-no” syndrome.
Vote for the question that you would like Clare to answer next month: