While Emily is off touring the world, I agreed to keep an eye on the PGR blog, as well as posting, as usual, to the Research Staff blog. So, in order to keep my word, here’s a quick word about using your research skills outside of academia.
This is maybe a bit of a cheat since I’ve already posted on the Research Staff blog about potential jobs outside of academia that value the skills that you will have developed during your time as a Humanities researcher (see the post at: http://researchstafftraining.wordpress.com/2010/06/30/using-your-research-skills-outside-of-academia/ ) and I’ve also just added another post about a job that’s just appeared on jobs.ac.uk, despite the fact that it isn’t based in a University (see http://researchstafftraining.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/non-academic-researcher-post/). And if you read my recent post about non-academic jobs in Higher Education, you’ll see that, although I’ve moved out of Literature and into Researcher Development, I still use a huge amount of the skills, knowledge and experience that I gained as a graduate student in my current job (if you haven’t read that post, you can find it at: http://researchstafftraining.wordpress.com/2010/08/10/non-academic-jobs-in-higher-education/).
However, what really got me thinking about how research skills are useful outside of academia is the fact that I’m currently planning my own holiday (it won’t be quite as spectacular as Emily’s, but it will hopefully be nice, nonetheless!). It’s years since I used a travel agent, partly because it’s cheaper not to, but also because my ability to plan a project, and my ability to research my options means that I really don’t have to. I hadn’t really thought about it in these terms (although I had thought that my project and event management skills could definitely be turned to wedding planning if I ever found myself out of a job!), but my ability to research, plan and organise a two-week ‘event’ on the other side of the world (well, Canada actually) definitely owes something to my research skills. Everything from getting the best price on flights, figuring out driving times and distances between cities (and therefore the maximum amount of sightseeing we can fit into 14 days) and researching which hotels get the best reviews owes something to the skills I developed during the PhD.
This may seem like a flippant example, but the same skills can easily be applied to searching or applying for a job or making a grant appliction. As a professional researcher you have some very useful skills, which you probably employ all of the time without really thinking about it. The processes that you learn can be extremely useful – even if you’re just planning your holiday – and you shouldn’t underestimate where they might take you, whether that’s within Higher Education or outside.