Headshot of Frances Rowbottom

Broadening my horizons with an Employ.ed for PhDs internship

Frances Rowbottom, a final year PhD student in American Literature, spent around eight weeks as a PhD Horizons Careers Conference Intern (Employ.ed for PhDs) with the Careers Service. All of Frances’ efforts paid off at our successful PhD Horizons Careers Conference on 14th June 2023 and it was lovely to catch up with Frances shortly afterwards…

Hi Frances, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a final-year PhD student in American Literature. My research is on the Mississippian author William Faulkner, and his use of myth to address race and history throughout the American South. Luckily, this subject means a lot of travel to the United States! As well as researching my PhD, during my first and second years of study, I worked for the Careers Service as an Insights Week Facilitator, delivering workshops to undergraduates. I also work for the University’s Admissions Team, teaching Study Skills sessions to high school students around the Edinburgh Area.

What prompted you to apply for the Employ.ed for PhDs internship programme and what were you hoping to gain from this experience?

I found out about the internship programme via my university email, and a job alert, which advertises University of Edinburgh job vacancies to current students.

I was prompted to apply for this role because it sounded like a challenging opportunity to complete a short work placement, and learn many new skills to work towards a set deadline. I had experience of organising a successful conference in 2022 discussing publishing careers to attendees across the whole of Scotland, and I was hoping to refine my skills with a larger audience and a more varied programme of speakers and industries.

Frances, tell us about your internship experience.

My internship was to organise the annual PhD Horizons Careers Conference, which was returning in-person for the first time since 2019:

  • On a typical work day, I communicated with potential speakers, organised catering requirements, made promotional materials such as programmes, and organised each of the eight panels for the conference day. I worked for one day a week in the Careers Service at the Main Library, and then worked from home to answer emails and requirements which came to my attention throughout the rest of the week.
  • I also liaised with my team to work within catering budgets, speaker requirements, and organised an appropriate location for the conference.

On reflection, what have you gained from this experience?

This internship was a fantastic way to improve my skills of communication, deadline management, and collating feedback after the event for an annual report. I worked with all of the other teams in the Careers Service to ensure that we put on a useful, thought-provoking conference for our PhD students.

We produced marketing materials, programmes, promotional material online, and had a variety of speakers from companies including the Scottish Government, Amazon, TSB Bank, National Museums Scotland, and Edinburgh Innovations entrepreneurs. So, completing this internship was also a way to expand my personal network, contacting alumni who were not in my direct field.

What are your top tips for students considering an Employ.ed for PhDs internship in the future?

My internship was a very useful way to further develop some skills that I already had, and learn new skills in a new environment, particularly as my work was fast-paced, required fast learning, and the conference date deadline was definite.

The Careers Service staff were all very welcoming and helpful – it was a really great opportunity to see behind the scenes and be part of different teams!

Looking ahead, what’s next Frances, now that you’ve completed your internship?

I am looking forward to submitting my thesis this summer! After completing my internship, I have a clear idea of advice and direction available to me as a post-PhD student, due to the useful information from the conference itself, and the range of panels and speakers.

Many thanks Frances.

Don’t worry if you missed our PhD Horizons Careers Conference in June, you can access the recordings from a range of inspiring speakers via this webpage.

If Frances’ blog has inspired you to consider an Employ.ed for PhDs internship, you can find out more on our webpage.




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