Seventy PhD and master’s students drawn from across the college gathered last week to take part in “Life After Postgraduate Study” the College of Art’s and Law’s first careers conference exclusively for postgraduate students.

Chris Packham speaking to the group

Highlights included a deeply inspiring keynote talk from recent Birmingham postgraduate alumni Dan Zastawny, the founder of Birmingham Impact Hub and a diverse array of alumni speaker panels that allowed attendees to hear all about and explore the diverse array of careers in academia, the media, publishing, heritage and research and projects.

Holding a day long careers exclusively for postgraduates has been a key aspiration for the college this year, forming an important and highly visible aspect of the ongoing drive to improve the postgraduate student experience. Every aspect of the conference was very carefully designed around student consultation and feedback. Students made it clear through focus groups and surveys that they were incredibly keen for the college to provide careers events that allowed them to explore for themselves a wide array of different potential career trajectories. They were particularly keen for academic and other professional careers paths to be given equal weighting in the programme allowing them to consider what their next steps might look like going down any of the routes presented.  

Because the day was very carefully designed around student consultation and feedback, it was incredibly gratifying to receive feedback from students after the event that it had:

“Improved [their] confidence”

and been a “useful” and highly “informative” experience. “Life After Postgraduate Study” would also not have been possible without the contribution of sixteen illustrious alumni drawn from all spheres of professional life and the brilliant input provided by nine early career academics and a number of PhD students, drawn from the College of Arts and Law and humanities departments across the midlands. The organisers extend them all their profuse thanks, the students really appreciated hearing from and discussing with them.

A panel discussion

Thanks for funding, is due to the M3C AHRC doctoral training consortium, College of Arts and Law Graduate School, Careers Network and Development and Alumni Relations (DARO). The funding from DARO has been used to capture large portions of the event on video for distribution to part-time and distance learning students unable to attend the event. Extra special thanks is also due to Alumni Relations, Careers Network, Student Experience, the College Graduate School and colleagues from right across the university, for their hard work and support in making “Life After Postgraduate Study” happen and be such a success.