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As part of our commitment to nurture and train future leaders in mitochondrial research, students from the WCMR at Newcastle University have recently completed an innovative and bespoke PhD workshop aimed at supporting their future career development. Given the success of the initiative, the WCMR team are keen to extend the opportunity to more students across the Centre. Read on to find out more.

PhD students from the Wellcome Centre for Mitochondrial Research (WCMR) have just completed a ground-breaking new career planning workshop and coaching initiative.  The “My Career Path Beyond PhD” programme was specially commissioned by Centre Director Professor Gràinne Gorman, who identified supporting and fostering the WCMR team as a key priority when appointed to the role last year.  The unique programme was specially compiled and led by interview and career coaching expert Margaret Doyle-Walsh (pictured). Ms Doyle-Walsh has over 19 years of experience with a particularly strong reputation in the fields of healthcare and the public sector.

The “My Career Path Beyond PhD” programme was piloted with six PhD students, five in the final year and one in the first year of their studies, over two months. It was tailored to help improve their understanding of the recruitment process and provide each participant with the necessary self-awareness and resilience to successfully plan and realise a rewarding and sustainable career path that aligns with their personal values.

The blended, comprehensive programme was delivered online over a series of four two-hour workshops and two one-to-one coaching sessions for each participant. It also incorporated individual assessments, expert review, feedback and advice from colleagues, as well as guest speakers from recruitment, Ms. Aralia Norris, and a career post-doctoral researcher, Dr. Rebecca Boyd.

“Tailored to each participant’s individual needs, the “My Career Path Beyond PhD” programme allowed the students the opportunity to appreciate the importance of planning and taking control of their own career development, and to understand that career planning is a continuous process of self-assessment, exploring options, developing skills and proactively marketing yourself throughout your entire career.” said Ms. Doyle. “It is never too early, or too late, to begin. Stay true to your values, know your value and everyday ask yourself, “what did I do today to bring me one step closer to my next career goal?”

Final year PhD student Elizaveta Olkhova who participated in the programme said, “The career coaching workshop was a fantastic opportunity for me to focus on my CV needs and how best to introduce and present myself to employers whether it is via cover letter, LinkedIn or Twitter. Margaret Doyle-Walsh’s way of coaching is professional, positive and very constructive. The individual approach and one-to-one sessions were extremely helpful and the tasks that were given to us between the workshops allowed us to deeply reflect on our values, our achievements and strengths. I could not recommend this workshop enough, irrespective of your current career stage.”

The training programme highlights the WCMR’s commitment to support, train and develop all members of the team at every stage of their career. Professor Gràinne Gorman said, “Our Centre’s ethos is one that actively promotes team science and our success to date can be attributed to the quality of our current researchers and our continuing ability to attract, develop and retain a diverse and inclusive team of outstanding scientists. Investing in bespoke career training for everyone is crucial to enhance the positive research culture within our Centre and we hope to extend this workshop to more students as a way to equip the next generation of academics to become global leaders at the forefront of medical breakthroughs.”

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