Charlotte Newby knew exactly the kind of work she was seeking after spending part of her PhD research at the world’s largest particle physics laboratory, the underground complex run by Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, based in Geneva.
Surprisingly perhaps, for someone with a doctorate in particular physics, it was not a career in scientific research. “I had a wonderful experience, learned lots of things and gained lots of skills but doing particle physics day to day wasn’t what I wanted in the long term.
“It was very glamorous cutting edge technology and I was left to work by myself for much of the time. But I really like working with people,” she says.
The graduate programme of RM, the Abingdon, Oxfordshire-based company that supplies educational software and systems to schools and colleges, offered the kind of work she was seeking.
“I was doing a real job from day one. In some programmes graduates are rotated around various departments with little opportunity to get deeply involved. But here I could get stuck-in from the start in and that was something that really appealed to me,” says Ms Newby.
Her work involves preparing and installing network servers in schools, a fast-growing market as increasing parts of the curriculum begin to rely increasingly on computer and internet support. “You learn about the business by doing it and I’m finding that I’m getting opportunities to expand my knowledge in different areas,” she adds.
While it could be argued that she could have joined a programme at the end of her four-year masters degree at Bristol University, she believes that her Phd studies at Oxford University gave her time to think about her various career options.
“I think I had much more to offer RM because of my PhD. I had the time to consider my future career that you simply don’t get doing a degree,” she says.
The strategy is paying off. This month she has moved in to her first position as a team leader.