We pride ourselves in supporting our postdocs and research staff in their career ambitions, whether they aim to become group leaders, specialise in a scientific technique or excel in professional areas outside academia.
In addition to an official PI/line manager, all postdocs and research staff can join our departmental mentoring scheme. The scheme is run by our Postdoc and Research Staff Association, and is based on small group peer-mentoring and PI-driven mentoring, through which small groups discuss topics covering career progression, work-life balance and conflict resolution, among others. Our ‘Get to know your PI’ series, provides an informal and candid environment to hear from more senior academics on their career trajectory and experience.
Training and Career Development
As a member of the Dunn School and the University of Oxford, you have access to a variety of courses and training opportunities, some organised at departmental level, others provided to all members of the university. If a course that you would like to attend is not available locally, you can apply for an internal grant to cover the costs of attending a course or workshop outside Oxford. Our research staff also have access to the University Careers Service, which can provide further advice and training on career progression.
We provide postdocs and research staff with comprehensive support to apply for grants and start building a funding portfolio. A monthly funding roundup highlighting relevant internal and external funding opportunities provides a good start, and the department also organises regular training sessions focusing on applying for your first grant or applying for career development fellowships when ready to transition to independence. Our finance team provides application and budgeting support, and informal support is also provided on written applications and mock interviews.
The Dunn School provides many opportunities to acquire teaching experience, from mentoring and co-supervising PhD students and project undergraduate students, to contributing to practical classes and lectures as part of our undergraduate teaching. There are also opportunities to get involved in tutorial teaching in the wider university, and these are advertised to all research staff.
Writing and Presentation Skills
There are plenty of opportunities to hone your presentation skills at the Dunn School. All graduate students and research staff join a voluntary rota of speakers to our weekly ‘Progress Seminars’, 30 min talks and Q&A about work in progress. There is also an annual symposium focused on postdocs and research staff, with opportunities to present posters and talks. Progress seminars and the annual symposium are also great opportunities to learn how to chair talks and sessions. Those keen to improve their scientific and public-facing writing can join the Dunn School news team, that brings together a group of volunteers interested in writing (contributing, for example, to our news section). There are also opportunities to participate in public-facing engagement projects with the local community.
Many of the skills mentioned above are relevant to both those interested in pursuing an academic career or a professional path outside academia. For those particularly interested in the latter, we run a regular series of seminars featuring former Dunn School members who have pursued different career paths. In addition, our mentoring scheme (see above) also provides the possibility of joining a mentoring group specifically focused on career paths outside academia.
Joining the Dunn School as a postdoc or research staff, you are joining an interactive and supportive community of other researchers, coordinated through our Postdoc and Research Staff Association, but also other students and staff. Read our Working in the Dunn School and our Culture and Values pages to find out more.