Dr Keren Darmon spoke at a mature PhD students’ lunch about her experience of working in the communications industry before studying for her PhD as a mature student. Keren is an associate member of the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she completed her PhD. Her thesis is a feminist media studies project, entitled “Representing SlutWalk London in Mass and Social Media: Negotiating feminist and postfeminist sensibilities“.

Keren shared her views on the labour market as she experienced it after passing her viva with no corrections in June 2017. As a London based parent, Keren decided to apply for jobs that would not involve moving home; and was open to both working in and outside academia. We discussed the apparent binary divide between these two occupational worlds and decided there are ways to move between sectors and also ways to combine the two worlds.

Currently, Keren is employed as a LSE 100 Guest Teacher and this means teaching interdisciplinary groups of students critical thinking based on current issues. It involves co-teaching, collegiate working relationships, sharing experiences through professional development, regular meeting and co-operating as part of a team. Like many academic early career positions in higher education, this is a fixed term contract (with the possibility to extend).

To continue to build an academic career, Keren knows she has to find time to publish academic articles in top-level journals so she can contribute to a department’s 2021 REF (Research Excellence Framework). She will also need to show potential to contribute to a department’s TEF submission (Teaching Excellence Framework) and, to this end, the work she is doing for LSE 100 is hugely important for her future career, as is gaining the PGCertHE qualification by working with the Teaching and Learning Centre.

If working on the LSE 100 team sounds attractive to you,  job descriptions and person specifications are posted on the LSE jobs page.

There are, of course, alternative occupations outside academia and Keren is alert to these. She is also conscious of how long it takes to write a high-quality job application and is wary of over stretching or risking submitting a poor application. A poorly prepared application is simply a waste of time. In addition, she was very clear that mature students with significant experience outside academia, as well as an excellent academic track record, have a lot to offer both students and home departments.

What can LSE Careers do for Mature PhD Students? 

PhD students who have more than 10 years’ work experience have different needs, in terms of career progression and life after the PhD, from others. We organise a termly informal lunch to provide a chance to meet some of your peers and engage with a mature PhD graduate who is willing to share their experience of completing and moving on from a PhD. Catherine Reynolds, LSE Careers PhD Careers Consultant, facilitates discussion about careers issues relevant for people in your situation and writes blogs to share the learning more widely.

Any PhD or early career queries can be explored in one to one confidential appointments with Catherine Reynolds here: PhD/Research Careers.

If you found this blog useful you might like:
Starting again: an ‘emerging scholar’ at 50-odd? by Dr Ruth Garland, a mature PhD graduate now teaching at the University of Hertfordshire who was our guest at a previous Mature Students Lunch.

Good luck with your career development, whatever stage you are at.