As a member of Imperial, you can access and use LinkedIn learning, the online platform that provides high-quality training videos covering a multitude of subjects, from software to specific skills. You can find more information on how to register here: LinkedIn Learning.

The PFDC will signpost videos or courses that you might find useful in your current and future career, with a focus on a different theme each month.

Months

Communication

speech bubble

Communication is a skill that is fundamental to any career path. The way you communicate will change depending on your role, the person you are communicating with, your needs and your communication media.

Here are some reflections on how to be a better listener, aligning your communication intention with the impact you want to have, and some good practice on how to better communicate through different channels.
You can also access the links here: Listening and communicatingAlign intention and impactListening actively

Develop Your Career Plan: Reflect – Research - Review

the word 'plan' were the 'a' is a lightbulb

Setting time apart to develop your career plan can be challenging, especially when you are balancing teaching, supervision, and research responsibilities. Time does fly and if you allow it, your career can be relegated to the bottom of your list of priorities.  

As an early career researcher, it is essential that you set time apart on a fortnight or monthly basis to evaluate your options, seek out opportunities; fuel your creativity; reflect on what success means to you; and set/review long term goals that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound).

 Ultimately, your career plan will help you reflect on where you are now and where you want to be in 1, 2- or 5-years’ time.

Emotional intelligence

emotional intelligenceEmotional intelligence (or EQ) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, while communicating effectively and being empathetic with others.

In essence, your emotional intelligence determines how you interact with others – and although it is different from your personality type it allows you to understand how to you express yourself positively when communicating with others.  In addition to your skills, developing your emotional intelligence will allow you to stand out among your peers, and gain tools to build collaborative relationships.

Finally, your continued growth in terms of your EQ, will help you navigate conflict or other challenging situations by learning a simple process to take control of your thoughts, feelings and emotions, defuse conflict and overcome challenging situations.

Growth

Book with a leaf on a pageFor growth to happen, mental flexibility is required which in turn promotes collaboration and innovation. Moreover, a growth mindset in a working environment needs openness to new ideas, listening to different perspectives and a desire to keep learning.

Many Scholars have shared their readiness to hold their own views loosely and eliminate the categories or boxes they have for humans or concepts, that prevents exploration and learning. Having a blind-spots is a reminder of our humanity – however for it to be illuminated, it is important to accept feedback gracefully and listen. Although receiving feedback can be daunting, paying attention to advice that is constructive is always a good thing.

Job satisfaction

Lady with arms spread in front of treesAs an early career researcher, you are expected to do excellent research, establish independence, find time to write papers, secure funding, and find compatible collaborators – all while planning your next career move. So how can you achieve job satisfaction when you are constantly multi-tasking and looking ahead?

Your work happiness, engagement, and satisfaction relies on the values you provide as a researcher, including your contribution to the field, awareness of a holistic measure of success and the benefits you enjoy as a researcher - for example, the intellectual freedom/independence your research provides, your ability to ask (and solve) the world’s big questions, exposure and opportunity to travel for conferences, working with brilliant minds in academia, and recognition in your field. Moreover, reminding yourself of the different ways you add value to relevant parties: including your research group, department, and institution (as well as the wider field) students or mentees, who benefit from your altruistic contributions to their careers.

Leadership

Word 'leadership' with king and queen playing cardsRegardless of your career path, you will need to develop leadership skills. You might not become a group leader or a team manager and have a more informal leadership role, but developing these skills will support you in your career ambitions.

One of the key skills of an effective leader is building relationships, as these form the basis of your connections across your workplace, in a formal or informal leading position. It is also important to understand your leadership style, how you come across to your team and some other top leadership characteristics. Find out how to use your personality to lead your team to success through self-awareness and reflection.

Networking

Networking diagramNetworking is the basis of many collaborations, new projects or even new job opportunities, but different people respond to different styles of networking, and in the current situation this might be challenging due to the lack of face-to-face events.

Follow up with your existing contacts, making it a regular habit. You can also use different social media to make new contacts. And remember: if you do get the chance to go somewhere for a brief period of time, then take advantage of this by keeping all the connections you made in that new place.

Relieving pressure

stress ballAchieving your research and career goals requires good mental, physical and emotional wellbeing, on which stress or pressure can have a negative impact. Nevertheless, pressurestress or feeling overwhelmed can mean different things to different people. With pressure, the source is external – for example, your line manager, family, or competitors, who may have high expectations. This can make you feel like you have limited resources to overcome the challenge. On the other hand, stress comes from the inside, and it can be related to doubt, personal anxieties, or a lack of security which can be associated with feeling overwhelmed. An extended period of feeling overwhelmed can create a fog of stress, making it challenging to be creative and problem solve.

Everyone deals with pressure differently and as such, there is no 'one size fits all' formula to handle it. Nevertheless, here are some tips and advice on how to handle and deal with pressure.

As an Imperial College employee, you have access to an advice service (Confidential Care Counselling) as a source of support. They have a 24/7 service on 0800 085 4764. We also have staff across the College who are trained to support employees in different ways. This includes Mental Health First Aiders, Staff Supporters and Harassment Support contacts. Details of these and other types of support can be found on the Advice and support webpage.

Strengthening your mental health during times of change

a lady doing yoga outsideMental and physical wellbeing are interlinked, and they can work synergistically. In times of uncertainty, it is essential to prioritise and protect your mental wellbeing so that you can build resilience and adapt to the pressures of changing times.

 As an early career researcher adapting to - and creating - new routines in our ‘new normal’; it can be tempting to work more and move less. However, your mental health and productivity can be improved through regular exercise – to help relieve stress, improve memory, sleep better, and boost your overall mood. 

Ultimately, strengthening your mental wellbeing will help you prepare for what could happen, but adapt to whatever that happens.

Time management

a clock on a deskAs the new academic year resumes you might have additional responsibilities taking up time. As an early career researcher time is one of your most precious commodities so you should be keeping a good balance between Work and Home time. 

In your work, some things might feel difficult to prioritise so you can strive to make the distinction between urgent and important. When you are allocating time for your tasks are these slots clear or are you in danger of multitasking? Remember: Saying no, negotiating, delegating, optimising your systems and avoiding perfectionism are great strategies to control your time  – but are you using these effectively?

Uncover your Strength

strengthAs a Researcher, it is important to spend time on things that make you unique - your strengths, which includes your gifts, loves and skills – and then work out how to grow them.

A good growth strategy for your strengths, would be to identify what you do best through self-discovery, and then spend more time developing those strengths - with focus on how to  grow them.

Combining your natural gifts (effortless abilities), loves (passion/fun activities), and skills (knowledge and capabilities acquired over time) will help you effectively market yourself and develop a successful career based on your strengths.