It’s tough. Is it worth it? Well, it was for Dr Joseph Downing and it can be for you too!

Joseph starts a funded two year post-doc in October 2016 and the journey getting there will be epic. It starts with his AHRC funded PhD at the LSE European Institute and this episode ends with the awarding of his EC Marie Curie Individual Fellowship at the University Aix-Marseille, with a six-month secondment at SOAS. Success! But what about the hurdles along the way?

Dr Joseph Downing’s application tips

At an LSE Careers seminar this week, Joseph recounted the modern day saga of his quest for success (slides from this seminar and others are online too). The tips Joseph learned along the way are:

  • you have to apply, so get to know funding bodies, their deadlines and particular conditions
  • re-use the same proposal in many applications, but tailor carefully and according to each funder’s requirements
  • you will be rejected, so prepare for feeling down and developing your resilience
  • the feedback you receive might not always be helpful and awards seem arbitrary (but sometimes feedback is good and you can use it to improve future applications)
  • other people might be willing to share their applications and feedback and you can learn from this  – just ask! It’s ok to
  • get help: your peers, LSE Research Division and LSE Careers provide excellent support, make good use of them all

What you can do meanwhile

Joseph was very honest about the difficulties involved in applying, particularly the long time frame and he described ways to keep yourself going during the long process. A number of part-time teaching roles in different departments and with LSE100 helped. Also, some research assistant work and work outside the university too. Having one or two good publications helps as it shows you can publish in good quality journals (this is more important than quantity) and having some teaching experience was also valued by funders in Joseph’s experience.

How LSE Careers can help

We can help with information about post doc research fellowships, Junior Research Fellowships, and research statements and proposals. Use the jobs and opportunities listed on CareerHub for short-term roles and too. An email to convenors of courses you could teach might generate something as well.

Use one-to-one careers appointments to talk through your approach, support your motivation, and practice interview technique with Catherine Reynolds, LSE Careers Consultant for PhD students. We regularly run careers events (including PhD and research staff specific ones in the PhD Academy) and through these you can learn from the experience of others in a structured way.

Remember we’re open all summer as well!

Good luck!