In March 2023 I was invited to spend 2 days at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) working with the researchers from the SurfSafe project. SurfSAFE is a collaboration between MMU and the Universities of Porto, Copenhagen, and Groningen supported by Horizon 2020 EU funding. The project focuses on developing antimicrobial and antifouling surfaces. The programme included both research and training/capacity building for early career researchers.
As part of this programme I was invited to spend two days at MMU to deliver training for early career researchers (ESRs), postdoctoral researchers and staff from the University of Porto to help them think about their career aspirations. Over two days I took participants on a journey from where they are now to considering options for where they might go in the future. They were encouraged to think about their own skills, strengths, and interests through activities, reflective exercises, discussions, and peer coaching.
It also included talks from myself and organiser Prof Kath Whitehead on different career paths, including research and research-adjacent opportunities. All participants had a workbook to record their thoughts and learning, culminating in a personal career action plan.
MMU project lead Prof Kath Whitehead said “Sarah was perfect to lead this workshop since she has a PhD in a scientific subject so she could relate to the early career researchers and postdoctoral scientists. This was key to the success of the workshop. By the end of the training, the participants had a personal action plan for the next stage of their careers. The feedback from the participants was great, for example, ‘Thanks for all your useful insights and engagement! It was a great workshop and a very relevant experience for all! 😊’.”
One of the participants, Maria Francisca Cardoso (University of Porto) gave this feedback “Participating in Sarah’s Career Development Workshop was truly transformative and inspiring. Her expertise and guidance helped me reflect on my strengths and experiences, allowing me to achieve a greater level of self-awareness. Sarah’s emphasis on tailoring a career to one’s unique aspirations was empowering. The collaborative atmosphere that Sarah promoted among participants added depth to the experience. Since the workshop, I’ve gained a clearer sense of direction and renewed confidence in navigating my career path intentionally. I highly recommend Sarah’s workshops to anyone seeking fulfilment in their career journey. I am truly grateful to have taken part in Sarah’s workshop.”