The Importance of Gaining Administrative and Non-Academic Experience

This post is written by Julia Winstone, Doctoral Researcher in the School of Law, Politics and Sociology.

Earlier this year, I attended a CV workshop for Doctoral Researchers run by the Careers and Employability Centre (CEC) here at Sussex to update my CV and I found it was relatively straightforward for me to write about my teaching and research roles here.

The CV workshop also emphasised the importance of Doctoral Researchers having a section in their CV on administrative and non-academic experience. As I was used to City style legal CVs, I had not given much thought to adding the up to date experience that I have gained here at Sussex on top of my professional experience. By the end of the workshop, I had a clear idea of just how important these roles are to my current CV for both academic and non-academic career paths.

The administrative experience I have gained at Sussex, includes being an MSc Postgraduate Representative for two years, attending regular student experience meetings, communicating proactively with peers and feeding back to the Director of the Doctoral School who convened this, producing adjustments where appropriate, reporting back to peers in a clear, timely way. It also includes successfully obtaining ESRC research funding for my PhD. As a member of the Sussex Centre for Human Rights Research PhD Working Group and the Sussex Centre for Crime Research, I have organised events where PhD Researchers meet to discuss their current research, chaired doctoral discussions on current human rights issues and given seminar and conference papers on aspects of my PhD research.

I am also a PhD Ambassador for the Postgraduate Recruitment Team. This involves attending question and answer sessions with prospective students and taking part in the highly successful annual telephone campaign where PhD Researchers are teamed up with prospective students to share our experiences of studying at Sussex and answer any questions they have.

All this is excellent for my CV as it demonstrates that in addition to my academic and research records, I also have current administrative and communication experience and enjoy working in customer facing roles which help students, have positive impact at Sussex and allow me to give something back to the University.

I always encourage other Doctoral Researchers to obtain administrative and non-academic experience while they are studying, because this helps to create a rounded CV.  My undergraduate roles helped me to obtain a training contract with a top law firm and my current roles will help me with my next career move. I would also encourage everyone to make the most of the excellent support available from CEC and to take part in the Postgraduate Recruitment Team campaigns, which are fun to be involved in.

If you are interested in becoming a PhD ambassador for the Postgraduate Recruitment Team please email –