Career development, placements and entrepreneurship

About career development, placements and entrepreneurship

UQ aims to develop well-rounded and capable HDR graduates who understand their personal strengths and have gained the graduate attributes necessary to build a career and contribute to society. During HDR candidature, it is expected that students develop transferable and professional skills alongside their development as a researcher. These skills equip them for careers in and outside academia. To this end the Career Development Framework (CDF) has been developed to provide HDR students with opportunities to enhance their existing skills and to develop new skills. It incorporates a variety of training, experiences, and support for HDR candidates. These include access to a HDR Careers Advisor and mentoring through either the UQ Graduate School HDR Career Development Mentoring program or the IMNIS (Industry Mentoring Network in STEM) program. HDR candidates are also encouraged to hone their research communication skills by participating in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition and the Wonder of Science program.

Career Development Framework

The experience of HDR students varies considerably but completing an Individual Development Plan (IDP) allows them to identify areas for development. It is now an expectation that this plan is discussed at commencement and annually at each milestone meeting. Most of the CDF training opportunities are quite short (2-4 hours) to facilitate their inclusion into the busy schedule of a HDR student. Ideally, you should encourage your students to aim to attend five - ten sessions annually over their HDR program. There is scope and flexibility within the CDF to focus in particular areas on an ‘as needs’ basis.

Although participation in the CDF is not mandatory, the Graduate School has incentivised its uptake by linking it to the Career Development Scholarship Extension (CDSE). The CDSE provides for a second stipend scholarship extension (up to 4 years) as recognition of participation in eligible CDF activities, as well as more substantial experiences such as a placement. In addition to this, the Candidate Development Award (CDA) is also offered to enable HDR students to participate in enriching development activities that may not otherwise be possible during their candidature, for example overseas industry placements, short courses at world leading facilities, or a Summer or Winter School.

Placements and internships

Placements and internships are excellent ways to test and showcase the capabilities and competencies of our graduate research students. The Graduate School’s placement scheme enables an HDR student to undertake a 30-day placement with an external (non-academic) research end-user. Experience has shown that the best way for an HDR student to develop a placement is for them to self-source using their own networks or initiative, but as their advisor, your advice and contacts can be invaluable in helping them to find a potential host organisation for a proposed placement. There are a number of legislative and regulatory requirements surrounding placements, so it’s important that students work with the Graduate School's Placement Officer to scope out the project, ensure that it meets expectations and is compliant. This is particularly important to ensure your student is able to maintain their stipend while undertaking the placement. The placement is not an opportunity to further research associated with the thesis. It can often make use of a student’s disciplinary knowledge, but a primary aim is for the student to apply the transferable skills of a researcher within a work context that is new to them. The placement is a fantastic way for students to build confidence in their capabilities. The added benefit is that a placement counts substantially towards the eligibility criteria for the CDSE. Information sessions on placements and the CDSE are held monthly and are advertised on the CDF website.

The Australian Postgraduate Research Internship (APR.Intern) scheme is an external internship scheme that links students and advisors to industry. The internship is usually around four months and the student is paid a top-up stipend scholarship. Advisors are also expected to be involved and receive a payment into their University ACA account. APR.Intern advertises projects with industry, and students can apply or propose a project with an industry partner (e.g., a potential Linkage or Advance Queensland grant partner). APR.Intern projects are usually more closely aligned to an HDR student’s disciplinary skills but it is expected that the project will also lead to broader development of the student's transferable skills. As with the Graduate School’s 30 day placement program, it’s important to ensure that you talk to the relevant people (your Research Partnership Manager (RPM), the APR.Intern Business Development Manager, and the Graduate School's Placement Coordinator) before your student embarks on an APR Internship. Your HLO can provide contact details if you are unsure.

Entrepreneurship

Alternatives to a placement for those with an interest to invent something and start their own company, are iLab Accelerator or CSIRO on Accelerate programs. Prior to taking these intensive Entrepreneurship programs, students may consider participating in preparatory activities such as the Start-up Academy or UQ Idea hub. Entrepreneurship activities form a strand of the CDF and can also be counted towards eligibility requirements for the CDSE. 

University teaching

An option for students seeking teaching experience is via the Graduate Teaching Assistant program, which then leads them to apply through the Higher Education Academy (HEA) as an Associate Fellow.

In addition to these opportunities, more tailored awards or sessions may be available in your discipline area. Your HLO or PGC will be able to advise you on what is offered.