STS has a team of academics to support career development and pathfinding from the very start of your time with us.
Students now begin university with a focus on jobs and careers. They’re encouraged to think of university studies as a means to those ends. They want to know how their studies will translate into items on a resume so as to stand out for employers.
In STS, we see a lot of applicants who want to study our subjects simply because they’re interesting subjects in their own right. We also see a lot of applicants who have a vague sense of what they want to do in the future. Some are fascinated by the connections between science and society, and they want to know more. Others are hungry for making changes in the world, and they know science and technology are at the heart of most solutions. From us, they want the tools to campaign.
Our philosophy of Flexible Futures is designed to maximize career options, and it reflects the variety of interests we see in students when they talk about career choices as well as our long experience helping gradautes find their way forward. We keep skill development at the heart of our degree programmes.
An excellent example of the flexible futures we work towards is offered by STS alumni Brian Kantor (Science, Technoogy, and Society MSc). Brian's interest in science communication and science journalism accelerated during his time in the Masters. He secured an internship with a BBC project and went on to work for the company that produced the NOVA television series on science. In this STS careers interview, Brian reflects on a path that took him into his Masters and towards the kind of work he loves.
What can a student expect from STS in terms of career development and advice? Let us consider this in several stages.
Students can expect the coursework that’s assigned in their modules will be developed with specific intentions towards skill development. For example, essays will assess critical thinking and research skills along with knowledge of a particular subject. The sum total of coursework in the degree will be designed to build portfolios with diverse elements: from films and podcasts to presentations, blogs, and policy papers. Students will mix individual work and group assignments, practical projects and reflective writing.
Students also can expect tutors to draw specific connections between the work done in a module and possible jobs or careers in the future. We’ll go beyond obvious connections to describe paths taken and paths available.
Students also can expect a good deal of adaptability. For example, a typical history of science module might adapt assignments so a student interest in law can focus research in this direct. A typical philosophy of science module might adapt so a student interested in environmental ethics can build knowledge their see as relevant to their future. A module in science journalism might encourage publication of excellent student work so it adds to a formal portfolio. A module in science and government might invite senior civil servants who work on a particular topic to serve as an audience for presentations so students get the feel of real-world consultations.
Students also can expect to receive feedback on their coursework that is timely, fair, and most importantly, helpful. University is a time for learning, and learning requires feedback that aims to guide towards improvement. Students can expect to talk about their feedback, and they can expect to be asked for their own views on what they need to improve.
In the degree
Students in our degree programmes are assigned a personal tutor before their arrival. They’ll meet in the first few weeks of the first year, and they’ll meet regularly (in formally scheduled sessions every term) and as opportunities arise (students can ask for meetings whenever they want). Personal tutors are experienced academics in the department who serve as mentor and troubleshooter. They offer a safe place for students to talk over their ideas and thinking, to speculate about possibilities, and to think through their skills and needs. Personal tutors normally follow a student through the whole course of their studies, and they become a trusted source of guidance and feedback who can take a long view. Personal tutors also are a key tool in networking. Students can draw on the professional connections of their personal tutors for further advice and perspectives.
Each degree also has a specialist STS careers tutor who briefs personal tutors and works across the university to represent students on the provision of careers services and opportunities.
Students can expect degree programmes to be reviewed every year by the department and by the university for their quality and for persistent problems. They also are assessed for how clearly they understand the relationships between knowledge and skills.
In the department
Students can expect the department to develop a programme of career development activities. Students also can expect to have a voice in department planning on careers development.
The department creates opportunities for work experience through its own STS Summer Studentships programme (eighty hours of paid work on a research project supervised by an academic in the department), and makes use of other opportunities to offer more, as funding permits.
You can expect us to understand how important work experience is and not to think it’s easy to secure. The department channels information we receive from colleagues and partner institutions about internships and volunteering opportunities. We also work behind the scenes to create opportunities for our students to gain work experience.
You also can expect the STS careers tutors to work with UCL services to organise training events, advice sessions, and networking opportunities. Some will be specific (such as CV surgeries), and careers fairs. Others will be general (meet-an expert events).
The department also will provide learning experiences in governance and leadership, noted on your UCL transcript. These will include opportunities to represent students and to develop policies.
In the university
You can expect UCL to provide a robust and active central careers service, offering assistance on issues both large (what do I do with my life?) and small (preparation for a specific interview). These will be a mixture of face-to-face meetings and collective sessions. Highly popular are programmes that help students translate their activities into an understanding of the skills required to do them. This helps moving from being a student (what do you study?) to being an applicant for a job (what can you do for us?).
You also can expect UCL to encourage student-organised clubs and societies that combine enthusiasm and career development. UCL also offers opportunities for entrepreneurial and start-up activities as well as portfolio-building activities such as summer programmes and lots of volunteering opportunities.
In our alumni networks
The department has run undergraduate degree programmes for twenty-five years. STS alumni work across a wide variety of sectors. You can expect us to draw them into the mentoring and networking process. You also can expect opportunities to talk with them about the paths they’ve taken: post-graduation decisions, first jobs, later jobs, and a career. Many STS graduates choose postgraduate studies, and you can expect us to draw our alumni into conversations about how to choose their paths, too.