Tag Archives: Training

Vania Almeida: How to combine your research interests and a well-balanced training program

Marie Curie Individual Fellowship program is an interesting opportunity for those who aim to reach and reinforce a position of professional maturity in research, particularly through the exposure to complementary skills training.

The quality and appropriateness of the training is one of the items evaluated within the excellence, one of the three criteria score. It is essential to delineate a reliable plan with your supervisor and the local HR team. If you are doing it for the first time you can find useful the Vitae Research Development Framework (RDF) that can help you to identify your strengths and the training needs.


I am working at Aston in two main working packages:

Research skills: My supervisor is helping me with most of the required training. However, I have decided to attend specific training in statistics, namely the Academy for PhD training in Statistics (APTS), a course designed to support research PhD students, but useful from those from other transferring in to statistics from other disciplines. APTS organises four residential weeks of training each year, this year in the University of Cambridge, University of Nottingham, University of Lancaster and University of Glasgow.

The Royal Orthopaedics Hospital is providing me the essential clinical training to facilitate good working practices while on secondment, namely training on the assessment, measurement and monitoring of vital signs and mandatory training sessions (including infection control, information governance and data protection, dignified treatment of patients, health and safety).

Complementary skills training: Aston offers a great number of versatile courses and excellent mentoring support for early career researchers, e.g. communication, project and finance management, IPR and copyright.

Additionally, Research & Enterprise Office runs several sessions along the year covering specific funding calls and several workshops specific to take researchers through all the steps they need to take to make a successful funding application. I find this really useful for the researchers moving from another countries, it is an interesting way to become familiar with new opportunities and developments in the funding landscape.

Vania Almeida: Career development plan

If you are preparing (or intend to prepare) a MSCA-Individual Fellowship your proposal should include a career development plan. It means that in addition to research objectives, the proposal should include the researcher’s training and career needs, including training on transferable skills (e.g. communication, time management, organizational, leadership), supervisory and teaching, planning for publications and participation in conferences.

Why is it important? A clear plan will help you to maximise the training and development opportunities, as an on-going process.

Career development is most effective when it is started early, preferably during your PhD. This process will be most effective as you have a clear perspective about your career objectives in a short term and/or long term. You can start thinking about your skills, personality, and your past and current work experience. But, do not forget to think about what really motivates you!

Finally, but no less important, look at the employability. The following data are referring to what physical sciences and engineering doctorates holders do 3.5 years after the graduation. Numbers from Vitae [1] suggest that 70 % work outside of higher education (HE) while 30% work in the HE sector. These numbers are not surprising for me due to the importance of doctoral graduates in business sectors built on science and technology. More information about biological, biomedical, social sciences, and arts and humanities is available here [2]. What is more surprising, for me at least, it is how PhD holders are employed in HE sector: 16% in teaching roles, 35% in research and 49% in other occupations.

A teaching position is probably the main goal of most of us who intend to pursue a career in HE, but these numbers suggest that probably we are underestimating the number of opportunities in “other occupations”. Do not forget to prepare yourself to these opportunities along your career path.

At Aston, you can book the Careers and Personal Development Planning training. Our HR team will help you to delineate what suits best for you.


[1] https://www.vitae.ac.uk

[2] https://www.vitae.ac.uk/impact-and-evaluation/what-do-researchers-do/career-destinations-by-discipline-infographics-1   (an account is required to access this information)