Love research? Forget the Master's - land a great research job

If analytics are your gizmos, and problem solving is your putty; you may already be considering a career in research. The obvious road to go down is a master’s degree in your specific field of study, and that wouldn’t necessarily be the wrong choice. Still, why wait any longer? If you love your area of professional practice, then getting straight into work is surely the most desirable path? Fret not, dear graduates, as this is absolutely possible.

Whether your specialism is history, English or science, you already possess a vast knowledge in your subject, and what’s more, you’re great at it - so let’s land that research job, without the post-grad study (and the £9,000 price tag that comes with it!).

Where do I start?

Enter Google. Most graduates begin by scouring the web for classified ads, or joining professional societies in their field.

It may seem like a minefield at first, but you’ll be surprised just how many research organisations are brimming with job vacancies. ICON plc, for example, have more than 100 roles available in clinical research - so if that’s your forte, it’s simpler than ever to get your foot in the door. Check out the clinical research careers you only need a Bachelor’s degree to land.

How do I get noticed without a Master’s?

Without the granddaddy of qualifications on your CV, your applications need to stand out in the pool of applicants with Master’s on theirs. A good researcher needs great logical thinking, excellent communication (be sure to list any examples of public talks or press listings) and, naturally, huge enthusiasm in the subject.

The classic case of “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” can come into play here too. In this situation, it’s both, because knowledge is everything; but solid contacts can be just as useful as a MA or MSc. Become known among your field’s community: LinkedIn is a great tool for this, but networking doesn’t just have to be online.

Go to meetings, free lectures, summer courses and, in the case of scientific or clinical research, visit other labs from time to time (and don’t be afraid to take up humdrum tasks like washing dishes). If someone from a research committee knows you, and especially, knows how keen you are, your application is going to jump right out from the rest of the bunch.

What happens next?

A combination of expert knowledge, additional undertakings and positive contacts will not fail to land you a great research job so the next step is inevitably the interview. Do your homework, find out who you’ll be talking to and, if possible, read their recent publications. You don’t need to let them know you’ve read their studies, but this is a great way to slip in current knowledge of the field and impress potential employers. Rest assured, your career in research is now definitely afoot - and what’s more, you’ve saved thousands of pounds that would’ve been spent on a Master’s degree. Success!

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