During your postgraduate or postdoctoral research, one of your main aims will be to further your knowledge and expertise in your chosen field. However, while you are carrying out your research, you’ll also be involved in various tasks that help you to develop a wider range of skills that will be useful to you as you progress through your career to more senior positions. Many of these skills will be useful to you whether you choose to stay in academia or pursue a career outside of research.
A broad range of free training courses for individuals at every stage of their professional development is available, both in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology and within the University. It must be recognised that whilst attending a training course can be of great benefit to learn new skills and improve existing ones, these skills should be actively practised in order to hone them. New skills can be developed and practised in an academic setting (for example, improving communication skills by taking part in a graduate conference or by writing travel grant applications) or by involvement in extra-mural activities (for example, being involved in teamwork in a sporting- or committee-based setting or improving organisational skills by arranging collegiate or society events).
There are a broad variety of initiatives around the University that provide the ideal arena in which to develop your portfolio of transferable skills. These range from entrepreneurial societies and activities such as Cambridge University Entrepreneurs (CUE), Cambridge University Technology and Enterprise Club (CUTEC) and i-Teams through to being involved in debating with the Cambridge Union Society (CUS) or by taking an organising role in one of the many College-based or University-based sports clubs.
Research Councils in the UK expect postgraduate research students to undertake at least ten days of skills training activities per year. Postgraduate students are required to log these activities (a skills record form can downloaded here) and to submit them to the department at the end of each academic year. To assist with the planning and development, students are encouraged to book a one-to-one session with Sonja Tomaskovic, who is the researcher development consultant for the School of Technology. Sonja is always very pleased to hear about your training requirements and to receive feedback regarding courses taken. More locally, there are researcher development activities within the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology. Academic supervisors and other members of staff can also offer guidance on selecting appropriate courses and on keeping a record of your activites.
Key skill areas research students are expected to develop by the end of their studies include:
- Self-awareness and the ability to identify own training needs
- Research skills and techniques
- Research management (organisational skills, time and project management)
- Personal effectiveness (flexibility, open-mindedness, self-discipline)
- Communication skills (verbal and written)
- Numeracy skills
- Networking and team working skills
- Career management
Where to find researcher development resources
- There is a comprehensive list of training courses at CEB. Please note that many of these courses require booking and places are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
- The University runs a graduate development programme, with an extensive list of courses. Again, places on these courses must be booked in advance.
- The Judge Business School runs the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning, which organises many events that students are welcome to attend.