Any views expressed within media held on this service are those of the contributors, should not be taken as approved or endorsed by the University, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the University in respect of any particular issue.
Hello from the other side – Alumni Series: Lucie Woellenstein

Hello from the other side – Alumni Series: Lucie Woellenstein

We love hearing about the post-PhD careers of the PGRs of the School of Health in Social Science. So it’s time to celebrate the diversity of post-PhD careers and inspire our current PGRs. Join us as we start our new blog series, Hello from the Other Side – Alumni Series*, with an interview with Lucie Woellenstein.

What programme did you complete and in what year?

PhD in Health in Social Science – submitted my PhD in November 2023, but will sit Viva February 1st 2024 (so in the little middle ground between being a PhD student and an Alumni!)

What are you doing now? (Job, role, etc.) Where are you based?

I am now based in London. I moved here a couple of months before submitting my PhD. I have just been offered two different data scientist roles in the Civil Service (one in the Youth Justice Board in the Ministry of Justice and the other in the Department of Health and Social Care) – I am in the process of deciding which one to take (need to decide by the end of the week!). My start date is likely to be in January 2024.

What drew you to that role? Was this part of your initial plan?

I more or less knew before I even started my PhD that I wanted to move back into industry when I finished. I was interested in doing this PhD to become an ‘expert’ (or more knowledgeable) on my subject (homelessness) and gain some credibility when applying to roles relevant to my subject. I was a data scientist before I started the PhD and used a data science methodology in the PhD. Therefore I knew I wanted to stay in this field, but also knew that I wanted to stay as close to the homelessness sector as possible. The main sectors of work I was considering was the public and third sector. I’m not necessarily set on being in these sectors forever, but I’m really excited about starting in the Civil Service now, and seeing where it will take me. Both departments are strongly important and linked to the field of homelessness, so I look forward to bringing my subject matter expertise to either post.

What specific knowledge or skills do you feel best prepared you for your post-PhD career?

The main skills I gained in my PhD that have helped prepare me for post-PhD career is learning to code in R, gaining a deeper knowledge of a range of machine learning algorithms, the nuances of carrying out research on sensitive data (e.g. UK GDPR law), a deep understanding of UK legislation on homelessness and finally an understanding of what works to prevent homelessness and its relevance in linked sectors (criminal justice system, healthcare, etc.).

What have been the most unexpected challenges you’ve faced in your career since completing your PhD?

I haven’t had very long in my post-PhD career, so my answer is a little limited. My advice is specifically for anyone looking to apply and work in the Civil Service. The application process is extremely long. This is partly due to their very fair application process (e.g. there are application deadlines and everyone is interviewed before someone is offered a position). There are also pre-employment checks, which can take up to 12 weeks. So trying to plan finishing the PhD and starting a job is a little challenging. If, for example, you need to move into a job relatively quickly for financial reasons, then you need to really be applying before you submit your PhD, which can feel like a lot on your plate!

On the flip side, what are the most rewarding aspects of your career after PhD?

The bragging rights in introducing yourself as a Doctor when finished! (only joking…I’m not yet a Doctor haha). As I have only recently submitted, I want to share a particularly reward aspect of the PhD, to encourage all current PhD students to make the most of their time during their PhD. I think a great aspect of the PhD is having the chance to learn something in your own time. You can dive as deep as you want into a certain topic without someone looking over your shoulder. You don’t always get this opportunity in industry, as there is usually also a day job to complete and strict timelines on deliverables. I felt that the pressure was off, and I could really take the time to learn something properly and deeply.

What advice would you give to PhD students who are preparing for their post-PhD life?

If you need or want to move into work immediately following the submission of your PhD, I would start applying 1-2 months before you submit your PhD.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your life after PhD?

I’m really enjoying not having the guilty feeling of you should or could be working right now!

*Make sure to check the rest of the interviews in the Hello from the Other Side – Alumni Series here.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Report this page

To report inappropriate content on this page, please use the form below. Upon receiving your report, we will be in touch as per the Take Down Policy of the service.

Please note that personal data collected through this form is used and stored for the purposes of processing this report and communication with you.

If you are unable to report a concern about content via this form please contact the Service Owner.

Please enter an email address you wish to be contacted on. Please describe the unacceptable content in sufficient detail to allow us to locate it, and why you consider it to be unacceptable.
By submitting this report, you accept that it is accurate and that fraudulent or nuisance complaints may result in action by the University.