Building experience while studying

The academic job market is competitive and there are ways to give yourself the edge from the start of your PhD.

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Apply for funding

There are two reasons to do this: you get some cash to do something and it will help your CV to stand out if you are applying for academic jobs.  

  • Try for small grants, for example to travel to carry out fieldwork or access specialist resources.
  • You may be able to work with your supervisor on a funding proposal.
  • Find out more from the Graduate School.


Most departments have teaching opportunities so make it known early on that you are interested.

If you can’t get teaching work immediately you could set up an extra-curricular group focusing on an area of interest. This will give you experience ‘teaching’ undergraduates.

Network and build communities of interest

  • Assess your skills with the Edinburgh researcher networking game
  • Present a conference paper or organise a conference
  • Get comfortable talking about your research
  • Find future collaborators
  • Establish a network of peers - you may help each other in the future
  • Become a PhD rep on a board or association
  • Look for opportunities develop an international profile


Publications are one of the main ways of shortlisting for academic jobs. Whilst you can’t be expected to have a long list of peer-reviewed journals you could:

  • Co-author a paper with your supervisor
  • Get published in graduate journals, conference reports
  • Write book reviews for journals or blog posts for journals or sites such as The Conversation
  • Have a strategy for publishing your PhD

Get involved in the department or institution

  • Join committees
  • Become a rep


Take advantage of additional research training available through the Graduate School.

Make an impact with your research

An increasingly important requirement is for universities to show their relevance to society:

  • Collaborate with non HE partners to communicate findings
  • Present to non HE audiences

Understand the sector

Read the Times Higher or Wonkhe.