Bertie Vidgen beat competition from 1,985 other applicants to secure a business placement with The Boston Consulting Group – a global corporation with $7.5 billion revenue and 18,500 people.
The placement enabled him to see how research is applied in the business world, gain insight into corporate culture, and learn new skills to aid his personal and professional development.
Bertie said: 'I would 100% recommend doing a placement as a useful way to explore career options and develop workplace skills which are directly relatable to academia.'
While studying for a PhD in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences, at the University of Oxford, Bertie felt unsure whether he wanted to continue in academia, or work in the corporate world. He also felt that his studies would benefit from new skills gained from within industry.
He began a rigorous search and several gruelling interviews to find the very best placement, eventually choosing Boston Consulting Group, because it was a good fit for his skillset and has an excellent reputation.
Linking academia and business
During his placement, Bertie joined a team which was working on behalf of a domestic energy supplier which wanted to change its organisational structure.
The team used data to model different scenarios and outcomes in order to work out the best structure for maintaining quality while reducing operational costs. It was a direct fit for Bertie’s expertise in data analytics and matched his passion for technology.
BCG is known for its ‘work hard, play hard’ ethos and Bertie experienced the culture shock of occasionally working until 2-3am before being expected to return at 8am the next day. This was tempered by a sense of camaraderie and social events.
Bertie gained skills in:
- Preparing engaging slides and presenting
- Time management in a high-pressure environment
- Managing people
- Dealing with conflict
- Problem solving
Advice for other researchers
At the end of his placement, Bertie was offered a job by BCG. But after much thought he decided to remain in academia.
Instead, he accepted an offer to become a Research Associate within the public policy programme at the Alan Turing Institute, focusing on detecting, analysing and countering online hate speech.
However, he has these tips for those who wish to explore options within business:
- Be picky - Research the companies which are the very best fit for you in terms of your skills and areas of interest
- Be critical of your own cover letters and CVs – Prepare to re-write these documents several times so they are tailored to each organisation
- Prepare extensively for interviews – Avoid getting caught out by questions
- Market yourself like a professional – Bertie has also been offered freelance work because content on his LinkedIn profile attracted attention from a business