Beyond Your Research Degree

Episode 16 - Alexandra Smith (Public Health Research Support Officer at Devon County Council)

June 28, 2021

Welcome to the Beyond Your Research Degree podcast from the University of Exeter Doctoral College! The podcast about careers and all the opportunities available to you... beyond your research degree!  In this episode Kelly Preece, Researcher Development Manager talks Alexandra Smith, who is finishing up her PhD and has just started a job as Public Health Research Support Officer at Devon County Council.


Music from ’Cheery Monday’ by Kevin MacLeod ( License: CC BY (



Podcast transcript


00:00:10,840 --> 00:00:15,700
Hello and welcome to the Beyond Your Research Degree podcast by the University of Exeter, Doctoral College

00:00:15,700 --> 00:00:27,660
Hello and welcome to the latest episode of Beyond Your Research Degree.

00:00:27,660 --> 00:00:36,820
I'm your host, Kelly Preece, and in this episode, we are continuing our series on securing jobs during covid-19.

00:00:36,820 --> 00:00:44,460
I'm speaking to another of our current PGRs who's not quite finished writing up, but has started a job in a local authority.

00:00:44,460 --> 00:00:54,810
So, Alexandra, you happy to introduce yourself? So my name is Alexandra Smith and I'm a student at the University of Exeter.

00:00:54,810 --> 00:01:00,720
I based in business school, but my PhD is on what I call the holistic health benefits of working groups.

00:01:00,720 --> 00:01:05,820
So essentially I'm looking at five different variables organisational landscape, physical health,

00:01:05,820 --> 00:01:14,430
mental health and social capital and their influence on working group participant motivation for joining, remaining and leaving.

00:01:14,430 --> 00:01:18,210
So at the moment, I am working with Devon County Council.

00:01:18,210 --> 00:01:23,790
I'm a public health research support officer and it's a role funded by the NIHR.

00:01:23,790 --> 00:01:31,320
That's the National Institute of Health Research, and it sits within the the CRN the Clinical Research Network.

00:01:31,320 --> 00:01:37,560
So essentially, NIHR is really interested in expanding its public health portfolio.

00:01:37,560 --> 00:01:45,990
So my role is to sort of link up researchers to populations to to get data from so I can

00:01:45,990 --> 00:01:50,880
do that through Connections that I have through the team within Devon County Council,

00:01:50,880 --> 00:01:58,440
but also to to create spaces for collaboration for public health.

00:01:58,440 --> 00:02:09,780
So I work across lots of different teams, so I will work with different individuals in D.C.C public health, but also broader DCC.

00:02:09,780 --> 00:02:15,060
So I'm also linking up with people in sort of who work more in the environment who are

00:02:15,060 --> 00:02:22,140
interested in working in transport and also working with sort of more partners as well.

00:02:22,140 --> 00:02:31,500
So community and voluntary sector NHS CCG Trust those different kind of partnerships, academics as well.

00:02:31,500 --> 00:02:39,180
And at the moment I'm working towards creating a webinar which DCC will be hosting on the 8th of July,

00:02:39,180 --> 00:02:46,650
and that's really a great collaborative forum to get academics and other partners together,

00:02:46,650 --> 00:02:54,660
to really talk through some of the pressing public health issues that we have in public health is such a huge area,

00:02:54,660 --> 00:02:58,770
really covers all aspects of life, really.

00:02:58,770 --> 00:03:03,150
It's very interconnected. So it's really important to have those collaborative spaces.

00:03:03,150 --> 00:03:08,100
And currently what I'm designing is a kind of like a platform.

00:03:08,100 --> 00:03:17,220
I'm looking to do this through sort of SharePoint and also through Microsoft teams to enable

00:03:17,220 --> 00:03:25,560
researchers and other collaborators to get together to put together grant applications.

00:03:25,560 --> 00:03:35,250
The role that I have public health research support of is a new role. And there are about 20 of me across the UK with this title.

00:03:35,250 --> 00:03:41,430
And next week I have my first meeting to meet the rest of the team on that.

00:03:41,430 --> 00:03:45,930
So I am new to a local authority.

00:03:45,930 --> 00:03:52,560
I'm new to public health, I'm new to NIHR, are very much started off like I did.

00:03:52,560 --> 00:03:57,600
I did a bachelor's in human psychology. I did a Masters in psychological well-being and mental health.

00:03:57,600 --> 00:04:03,270
And I worked as a research assistant to the University of Nottingham in the nursing, midwifery and physiotherapy department.

00:04:03,270 --> 00:04:08,820
And from there, I kind of thought clinical perhaps isn't quite for me, but I've got more.

00:04:08,820 --> 00:04:13,050
I really wanted more of a holistic perspective to individuals.

00:04:13,050 --> 00:04:22,080
So that's when I moved to Exeter to do my PhD. And then it just started shaping more into a kind of public health policy,

00:04:22,080 --> 00:04:29,940
kind of feel to it  then my supervisor suggested actually public health and maybe a local authority might work for you.

00:04:29,940 --> 00:04:36,690
And this really this is a fantastic opportunity because it kind of brings those two things together.

00:04:36,690 --> 00:04:41,640
It brings up public health interests and it brings that research element as well.

00:04:41,640 --> 00:04:48,600
So what I've been doing is engaging with different people. So I've been having one to ones with different members of the D.C.C public health

00:04:48,600 --> 00:04:54,900
team to understand their research about their area that they're working on.

00:04:54,900 --> 00:04:57,690
And these could be really broad themes, you know,

00:04:57,690 --> 00:05:04,200
that there could be children and young persons or it could be mental health or it could be planetary health.

00:05:04,200 --> 00:05:05,910
And they've been working on this for years.

00:05:05,910 --> 00:05:14,430
And I have to understand what it is that they're doing and what specific research element could be within that.

00:05:14,430 --> 00:05:21,270
So it's been a big learning curve if you don't if you don't know anything about that particular field to begin with.

00:05:21,270 --> 00:05:23,370
So it's very much you've gotta swap your

00:05:23,370 --> 00:05:31,110
head from learning about one topic and then something, you have to give somebody else an entirely different project and an entirely different topic,

00:05:31,110 --> 00:05:38,070
and it's just understanding those kind of connections that you can make to have like a broad you know,

00:05:38,070 --> 00:05:43,590
we need something researched into this or we need this really specific kind of population.

00:05:43,590 --> 00:05:49,080
So it's it's been a steep learning curve. I wouldn't have it any other way.

00:05:49,080 --> 00:05:52,140
Yeah. And I think that's a really important thing.

00:05:52,140 --> 00:06:00,990
to acknowledge that quite often when you're moving from research into any other sector, but particularly kind of,

00:06:00,990 --> 00:06:07,290
you know, the public policy kind of area that you're working in, it's going to be a steep learning curve.

00:06:07,290 --> 00:06:14,220
But that doesn't mean that you don't have valuable knowledge and skills and expertise to apply in those areas.

00:06:14,220 --> 00:06:14,820

00:06:14,820 --> 00:06:25,390
And it is really just about, you know, that that frame of mind when you start applying for jobs that are outside of academia because I don't know,

00:06:25,390 --> 00:06:32,130
certainly certainly I found that I perhaps didn't want to work in academia, although I did really still like research.

00:06:32,130 --> 00:06:34,560
But I wanted to get more into public health and understand that.

00:06:34,560 --> 00:06:41,730
But I don't have a public health master's, and that's just not something that I could go straight into, you know, to get a job.

00:06:41,730 --> 00:06:46,950
And I need to get some money. I can't just go study again.

00:06:46,950 --> 00:06:52,110
And it is really just about I found LinkedIn incredibly helpful for that process, actually,

00:06:52,110 --> 00:06:58,230
because you can follow different organisations and you can follow different people who are interesting to you.

00:06:58,230 --> 00:07:03,720
Interesting to you. And you can learn about opportunities that you never would have thought about.

00:07:03,720 --> 00:07:09,420
And that there is a learning to and where you have to understand and unpick some of that language.

00:07:09,420 --> 00:07:13,810
But some of it is just about immersing yourself in it.

00:07:13,810 --> 00:07:20,310
And for me, It's just constant exposure. The more exposure you get to it, over time, you pick it up.

00:07:20,310 --> 00:07:27,840
And I found that incredibly invaluable because then I broke out of my understanding the language

00:07:27,840 --> 00:07:33,540
of academia and the language of other organisations and therefore what they were looking for.

00:07:33,540 --> 00:07:42,690
And that actually I had those skills. I just needed to understand it in different words and they needed to sell it in different words.

00:07:42,690 --> 00:07:48,150
So I would say LinkedIn was actually invaluable for that it really was

00:07:48,150 --> 00:07:52,470
And then, you know, it's just about going through those applications.

00:07:52,470 --> 00:08:03,900
Give yourself enough time for it. So I suppose I take like I took two different strategies to it, like applying for loads of jobs,

00:08:03,900 --> 00:08:08,430
but also like I really want this one, or I think I could really get that one.

00:08:08,430 --> 00:08:14,970
And I would probably say if you have the time, try and do it more focussed.

00:08:14,970 --> 00:08:18,960
But also it can be really interesting to just apply more generally.

00:08:18,960 --> 00:08:32,490
So I, I got an interview that was more about, you know, turning academic projects into, like the business ventures.

00:08:32,490 --> 00:08:35,160
I don't know if that's the direction that I want to go into.

00:08:35,160 --> 00:08:42,060
And it was really helpful to have that interview to understand maybe this wasn't something I wanted to pursue now,

00:08:42,060 --> 00:08:50,430
but I never would have got that experience had I not applied for something totally different.

00:08:50,430 --> 00:08:57,390
So it can be a really useful learning strategy to to apply for a variety of different things that perhaps in the

00:08:57,390 --> 00:09:06,960
first instance and I suppose something that I would say is you can be a bit overwhelmed with interviews suddenly,

00:09:06,960 --> 00:09:14,570
like I would have, like, I don't know, like for interviews.

00:09:14,570 --> 00:09:25,670
Four days in a row, that's exactly how it could happen, and you've got to do a presentation for it and you might have to do like a group work for it.

00:09:25,670 --> 00:09:29,660
So there is there is a big time commitment to it.

00:09:29,660 --> 00:09:36,350
Don't underestimate that because there's a lot of work you need to put in, particularly for my current job.

00:09:36,350 --> 00:09:38,270
Fortunately for my other interviews,

00:09:38,270 --> 00:09:45,560
I'd also I'd already been looking into public health things and obviously public health stuff has been going on for years.

00:09:45,560 --> 00:09:52,730
Public Health England has been around for a while now. So there's lots and lots of information and there's lots of changes.

00:09:52,730 --> 00:09:59,960
The language is very involved. So it does take time if you're moving into a new area.

00:09:59,960 --> 00:10:06,260
But it's just the fact that exposure, that commitment, trying different things.

00:10:06,260 --> 00:10:13,550
And yeah, it just got to the point where I know I knew enough and I knew how to kind of frame myself.

00:10:13,550 --> 00:10:19,520
I knew what my I knew the things that I was particularly strong in.

00:10:19,520 --> 00:10:26,310
And I would say I don't want to say like it's unique selling point, but.

00:10:26,310 --> 00:10:33,300
What is it that you have to offer and what is it that they have to offer?

00:10:33,300 --> 00:10:39,840
Like yeah ok, you need a job, but it's probably going to be way worse if you just have a job that you hate.

00:10:39,840 --> 00:10:45,750
It's much better to have a job where you're much more aligned with the values.

00:10:45,750 --> 00:10:49,140
So I would say I think it probably depends on you as an individual,

00:10:49,140 --> 00:10:54,240
but personally being involved in how it's like my values are really important to me.

00:10:54,240 --> 00:10:57,870
So my organisation, the organisation that I want to work with,

00:10:57,870 --> 00:11:04,110
I need to make sure that my values are aligned with those, because if it doesn't, then it's just not sustainable.

00:11:04,110 --> 00:11:11,250
I'm not going to do a good job. I'm going to get fired. Then I'm not going to get like a very good, you know, like a reference, that kind of thing.

00:11:11,250 --> 00:11:16,750
Is it really worth it? I think it's worth just thinking about what do you want?

00:11:16,750 --> 00:11:22,890
What do they have to offer? You know, it's very true that people say, you know, it's not just that you are being interviewed.

00:11:22,890 --> 00:11:29,010
You're also interviewing them. You know, do you just feel like maybe this is a bit of a toxic environment going on?

00:11:29,010 --> 00:11:32,880
Or do you feel like this this team really works as a team,

00:11:32,880 --> 00:11:41,250
that they really have this this combined overall sense of leadership in this respect for one another.

00:11:41,250 --> 00:11:45,060
And that's really what I found at DCC I couldn't be more happy.

00:11:45,060 --> 00:11:49,470
I really couldn't. I feel so much part of the team.

00:11:49,470 --> 00:11:58,730
And I love this this mutual respect that everybody has for everybody, you know, from the top down, everybody.

00:11:58,730 --> 00:12:09,950
feels you know, everybody has that combined sense of of feeling valued and heard, and I think that I really appreciate that personally.

00:12:09,950 --> 00:12:18,170
And something really important I want to pick up on there is that a lot of people are using things like LinkedIn as a kind of an awareness

00:12:18,170 --> 00:12:28,490
raising to see what's out there and what's possible and where your skills and experience could be highly valued or sought after.

00:12:28,490 --> 00:12:33,920
Don't don't underestimate your value as a researcher.

00:12:33,920 --> 00:12:38,090
You're trained to be creative in your thought.

00:12:38,090 --> 00:12:44,990
You're trained to look out for those little nuances and question everything.

00:12:44,990 --> 00:12:49,220
And I think that that's something that I found really interesting working at DCC

00:12:49,220 --> 00:12:55,010
because people are obviously trying to understand what is best practise,

00:12:55,010 --> 00:13:01,760
what is the literature so that we can understand how we can support our populations the best.

00:13:01,760 --> 00:13:05,900
But there's also this kind of practicality of like we need to do something now.

00:13:05,900 --> 00:13:13,970
And research works at a completely different time to local authorities who need to be helping the populations

00:13:13,970 --> 00:13:18,830
now that they don't need to know the findings of a randomised control trial 10 years in the future.

00:13:18,830 --> 00:13:26,810
So it's really trying to sort of bring those two things together. And that's that's something where I sort of really come in to help them with.

00:13:26,810 --> 00:13:30,080
And I suppose the thing about, you know,

00:13:30,080 --> 00:13:33,920
a local authorities that they're trying to they've got to sort of split their population

00:13:33,920 --> 00:13:38,510
up to understand how we can how can we support this population or that population,

00:13:38,510 --> 00:13:42,380
this geographical area or children and young persons or whatever.

00:13:42,380 --> 00:13:48,380
And research takes quite a can take quite a different approach. We will go.

00:13:48,380 --> 00:13:55,490
Don't make any assumptions and you know, where where are things that we can connect,

00:13:55,490 --> 00:13:58,640
where are the similarities, where are the differences I have a background in psychology

00:13:58,640 --> 00:14:06,830
So I'm sort of trying to understand more about how we can incorporate individual differences more into research.

00:14:06,830 --> 00:14:11,390
You know, it's this kind of within and between group differences.

00:14:11,390 --> 00:14:16,490
So this is kind of like this two is two different needs going on,

00:14:16,490 --> 00:14:24,620
and it's about understanding how we can pick those apart and come up with a strategy going forward.

00:14:24,620 --> 00:14:32,360
Can you talk a little bit about the process of finding this, the job that you're in at DCC and this opportunity?

00:14:32,360 --> 00:14:44,360
The job that I actually got now, I got off the back of an interview, so I'd applied for like like an intelligence analyst job DCC.

00:14:44,360 --> 00:14:48,980
So I'm I'm based in intelligence as well. That's just where I sit in the team.

00:14:48,980 --> 00:14:55,940
But I actually straddle so many different, like pretty much everything in public health.

00:14:55,940 --> 00:15:03,770
because research is so broad and public health is so interconnected.

00:15:03,770 --> 00:15:12,380
So that's what I applied for. And the because obviously I got that analysis background.

00:15:12,380 --> 00:15:18,530
I've got mixed methods, background so quant and qual and I didn't get it.

00:15:18,530 --> 00:15:25,010
And the feedback that I got was great is just that you didn't quite tick some of the public health boxes.

00:15:25,010 --> 00:15:36,500
So get more familiar with with public health language and, you know, the JSNA the joint strategic needs assessment, those kind of things.

00:15:36,500 --> 00:15:44,990
And then, yeah, then I got sent through the like the the job advert.

00:15:44,990 --> 00:15:49,300
I applied for it, I.

00:15:49,300 --> 00:15:56,890
Then had the interview and managed to secure the job and, you know, and you're always going to get feedback and feedback is incredibly valuable.

00:15:56,890 --> 00:16:06,040
This isn't something to shy away from embracing. It is really important and valuable things in there about values.

00:16:06,040 --> 00:16:09,220
And, you know, like you said earlier, about buzz words.

00:16:09,220 --> 00:16:18,100
And there are certain things that when we talk about careers, are buzzwords and and feel like like platitudes and like kind of management speak.

00:16:18,100 --> 00:16:24,310
And one of those is kind of the importance of knowing your values to finding the right career path for you.

00:16:24,310 --> 00:16:30,430
But actually in practise, it is it's cliche and it's it yeah.

00:16:30,430 --> 00:16:35,320
It feels like kind of business speak, but it is actually true. Yeah, exactly.

00:16:35,320 --> 00:16:41,290
And I suppose, you know, I fought it in the past and just gone like, oh, no business speak buzz words

00:16:41,290 --> 00:16:45,850
Same, oh, it just turns me off completely.

00:16:45,850 --> 00:16:49,270
It makes me feel like it totally goes against my values.

00:16:49,270 --> 00:16:58,090
But I look at I suppose I look at it more as a language tool that I use to communicate a concept to other people.

00:16:58,090 --> 00:17:06,550
And that message and that communication is more important than perhaps preconceptions I have about it.

00:17:06,550 --> 00:17:12,940
Yeah, absolutely. And then the other one, I think really comes up in what you're saying is also the hidden job market,

00:17:12,940 --> 00:17:18,790
which is another one of those kind of management speak things, Business speak things that you hear and you shudder.

00:17:18,790 --> 00:17:22,510
But it is so true in practise. Yeah, I know.

00:17:22,510 --> 00:17:30,700
I suppose what I would say about this is that it's it's totally different to what I thought that it was like.

00:17:30,700 --> 00:17:35,590
It's you know, it's not sort of like I mean, I don't know how it works.

00:17:35,590 --> 00:17:41,080
And other things like DCC has a structure and lots of other places do where, you know,

00:17:41,080 --> 00:17:49,330
you have like tick boxes and you score a value based on like, you know, they're looking for a topic or a theme or something.

00:17:49,330 --> 00:17:58,420
And they will judge your answer, you know, I mean, this is how I understand it to be, you know, give you a score on your answer for that topic.

00:17:58,420 --> 00:18:06,970
You know, that particular thing that they're asking you about during the interview. And whoever gets the most points gets the job.

00:18:06,970 --> 00:18:13,990
So, you know, it was totally different from what I understood to be that kind of hidden job market,

00:18:13,990 --> 00:18:19,400
because I suppose the hidden job market, I assumed it was sort of like, oh, here's this job and you should just go for it.

00:18:19,400 --> 00:18:23,830
And I would, you know, you. But it doesn't it doesn't work like that.

00:18:23,830 --> 00:18:28,190
Every job's going to be advertised. You know, legally, this has got to happen.

00:18:28,190 --> 00:18:31,960
And in terms of fairness.

00:18:31,960 --> 00:18:41,650
But if if somebody sees something in you and goes, actually, I think that this could be really useful to you, then you will know about it.

00:18:41,650 --> 00:18:45,640
You'll know about it in advance. And you might not you know you know, you might know about it a couple of days.

00:18:45,640 --> 00:18:51,970
You might know about it a week or something. And that can give you a bit of lead time to think about, is this what I want to give that person?

00:18:51,970 --> 00:19:00,110
Thanks. Do some research into it. So, yeah, it's completely different to what I thought I was that it was some sneaky thing.

00:19:00,110 --> 00:19:06,610
It's not. It's not. It's more about somebody seeing something in you and going, actually, this might interest you.

00:19:06,610 --> 00:19:15,190
I suppose, to begin with, I found this idea of networking quite scary and I felt quite awkward with it.

00:19:15,190 --> 00:19:18,430
But actually, if I just bring it back to what my values were,

00:19:18,430 --> 00:19:30,590
my values are helping people and helping the broader theme of of helping people generally with, you know, with physical activity or whatever.

00:19:30,590 --> 00:19:35,140
And so in that respect, that's why it immediately struck me.

00:19:35,140 --> 00:19:44,470
Oh I'll send this person, you know, that paper or that link to that grant funding because I'm helping somebody.

00:19:44,470 --> 00:19:49,450
Exactly. And I think, again, you know, you hear networking and again, you think management people and speak.

00:19:49,450 --> 00:19:53,560
But actually, you know, it doesn't let you say about the hidden job market.

00:19:53,560 --> 00:19:58,720
It's not necessarily your perception of it as a term. It's not necessarily how it works in practise.

00:19:58,720 --> 00:20:06,100
I think we've we've uncovered so much in this about kind of like actually the importance of your values to driving you and thinking

00:20:06,100 --> 00:20:13,600
about how you investigate and look at different jobs and be a bit more targeted than just using those kind of a big job site,

00:20:13,600 --> 00:20:16,600
then the kind of hidden job market actually in applying for jobs.

00:20:16,600 --> 00:20:23,110
It creates new opportunities for you because you might not be right for the particular position that you've applied for,

00:20:23,110 --> 00:20:26,050
but there might be something else coming up that they go, oh, actually,

00:20:26,050 --> 00:20:33,040
we spoke to Alexandra and although she wasn't right for that job, she'd be perfect for this job.

00:20:33,040 --> 00:20:37,060
And also the kind of, you know, networking doesn't have to be clinical. It's about, you know,

00:20:37,060 --> 00:20:48,800
being collegiate and having conversations with people and kind of helping basically some advice that I got about networking was about.

00:20:48,800 --> 00:20:51,530
Sort of keeping a contact and that sort of stuff.

00:20:51,530 --> 00:21:00,320
I mean, there was just too much to do in a day, you know, and I don't know that all of that would be completely genuine if you had to.

00:21:00,320 --> 00:21:09,650
I mean, nobody can do that. That's just too much. If something just happens to crop up and it seems relevant to that person, then I'd send it.

00:21:09,650 --> 00:21:14,720
If it's kind of general like chit chat, I just don't know that's that valuable to anybody.

00:21:14,720 --> 00:21:18,380
But it depends on who you are, depends on who the other person is,

00:21:18,380 --> 00:21:26,060
depends on and sort of what stage they're at before we kind of bring and bring this to a close.

00:21:26,060 --> 00:21:34,580
I wondered if we could talk a little bit about what you think. So one of the anxieties people, a research degree students have tends to be about.

00:21:34,580 --> 00:21:46,770
But what skills do I have that are relevant to, you know, relevant to industry or relevant to public policy or the public sector and.

00:21:46,770 --> 00:21:56,700
The answer is so, so many. I wondered if you could talk about your specific role and what are the what's the knowledge,

00:21:56,700 --> 00:22:06,430
what the skills that you use from your day most in your in your work life?

00:22:06,430 --> 00:22:25,880
I think perhaps the reason why PhD students struggle with understanding the values that they have and the how do you say those broader skill sets

00:22:25,880 --> 00:22:29,120
It's because you're doing a PhD

00:22:29,120 --> 00:22:39,320
these things are very the environment is is completely different to other environments and it's kind of like very much your project.

00:22:39,320 --> 00:22:42,740
And it can get quite intense and quite lonely sometimes.

00:22:42,740 --> 00:22:51,140
Even if you are attending a seminar or you're collaborating with somebody else, it's still your project at the end of the day.

00:22:51,140 --> 00:22:55,530
And I think when you're that close to something over time.

00:22:55,530 --> 00:23:07,980
It can start to just feel like everything it can just feel like it's the entire world and you don't know where you finish and the PhD begins.

00:23:07,980 --> 00:23:13,890
And I kind of feel like I mean, I don't know it might happen to other people it certainly happened to me.

00:23:13,890 --> 00:23:22,410
And it's it's there that those kind of that value or those, you know, those flexible skills,

00:23:22,410 --> 00:23:27,240
I think get lost because you don't understand how to advertise it because it's just one.

00:23:27,240 --> 00:23:36,060
You know what I mean, you are the PhD are just one. And I think probably the the biggest thing.

00:23:36,060 --> 00:23:44,850
for me that I use every day is collaboration, I mean, my PhD was very much just,

00:23:44,850 --> 00:23:50,040
you know, me sat at my desk, you know, and occasionally I would attend seminars.

00:23:50,040 --> 00:23:55,620
But they were I mean, there's really not very many people studying the area that I do this,

00:23:55,620 --> 00:24:01,620
like one main person that I know in the world who's studying it.

00:24:01,620 --> 00:24:12,060
So, you know, it can feel very lonely. But I've had different opportunities for collaboration and I've worked on different projects,

00:24:12,060 --> 00:24:14,460
different things that have come up within the university.

00:24:14,460 --> 00:24:22,320
I kind of grasp those opportunities and made the full use out of them as much as you can so that you can demonstrate that you have those skills.

00:24:22,320 --> 00:24:26,880
And don't forget, it's not just about putting it on the paper.

00:24:26,880 --> 00:24:33,650
You know, in your cover letter or in your CV is then demonstrating that you have that at the interview.

00:24:33,650 --> 00:24:37,410
You know, if you want to if you're trying to say, I have great listening skills,

00:24:37,410 --> 00:24:41,910
then listen, I really make sure that you're having those active listening skills.

00:24:41,910 --> 00:24:49,200
You're really listening to what those questions are. You're picking them apart and then you're answering those questions specifically.

00:24:49,200 --> 00:24:54,390
So I would say my interpersonal skills are the biggest thing that I use.

00:24:54,390 --> 00:24:58,070
And so I definitely would say.

00:24:58,070 --> 00:25:09,800
It can be it's the same with like talking to other people and using people as sounding boards, they can help you pick apart what your skills are.

00:25:09,800 --> 00:25:14,180
I mean, yes, there were those kind of hard skills that you have. I've learnt this bit of software.

00:25:14,180 --> 00:25:18,980
I taught myself that if you've taught yourself something, say it.

00:25:18,980 --> 00:25:26,090
That's really important because it shows that you're able to to learn and to adapt and to

00:25:26,090 --> 00:25:33,800
identify a need and fulfil it to be that reflective like to have that self reflection and to go,

00:25:33,800 --> 00:25:40,940
OK, this is like a gap or like, OK, I'm going to call it a gap rather than a weakness.

00:25:40,940 --> 00:25:47,060
And to be able to sort of fill that. I mean, you're trained so highly in teaching yourself.

00:25:47,060 --> 00:25:53,870
That's really what a PhD is it's teaching yourself to teach yourself and teaching yourself to learn.

00:25:53,870 --> 00:25:59,330
So that's kind of the biggest thing. And that can really take you places.

00:25:59,330 --> 00:26:04,610
Thank you so much to Alexandra for a really fascinating and deep,

00:26:04,610 --> 00:26:10,670
and involved discussion about how she came to her role working in public health

00:26:10,670 --> 00:26:16,730
and the kind of career journey that she's been on the application process.

00:26:16,730 --> 00:26:24,410
And you know what she's doing now and she's how she's applying her experience from her PhD.

00:26:24,410 --> 00:26:40,261
And that's it for this episode. Join us next time when we'll be talking to another researcher about their career beyond their research degree.


Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App