CEO, Mark Hollingsworth, updates on the Nutrition Society and the Association for Nutrition Joint Project to Support Recent Graduates and Early Career Researchers - an opportunity to become involved.

There are many rewarding aspects to being the Chief Executive of the Nutrition Society, and I could most likely compose an entire blog detailing them all. Perhaps though one of the most rewarding is the interaction with the Society’s Student Section, where the future of UK science and indeed the future of our Society rests. It is partly in recognition of this key area that the Society’s Trustees added ‘Provide support to early career researchers’ as a key component of the Society’s current 5-year strategic plan. Although there are a number of initiatives under way in this area, I wanted to update you on the most recent as it focuses on one of the most challenging aspects for recent graduates and early career members of the Society - preparation for the job market.

Over the past three years, in recruiting new staff for the Society’s office, and for our internship programme, I have seen over 300 CVs from students and early career researchers, leading to my conducting close to 50 job interviews. Therefore I have perhaps, a unique insight to the ‘Nutritional Science Graduate’ entering (or attempting to enter) the work force. There is clearly a challenge facing these graduates - a combination of lack of available jobs in the sector, a lack of preparedness on the part of the graduates, and a general shortage of wider skills - leading to much frustration, both on the part of the graduate, but also for the potential employer.

To help in part address these challenges, the Society have recently partnered with Association for Nutrition to test a support programme for graduates and early career researchers. The project, under the auspices of the Society’s Honorary Officer for Training and Education, Penny Hunking, is being led by Anna Wheeler (from Anna Wheeler Nutrition Ltd) and Dr Danielle McCarthy (from Live It Up Ventures Ltd), who have over 30 years of experience between them in various different nutrition roles. Their remit is to deliver a pilot programme specifically designed to boost the professional development and career opportunities of Nutritionists. This project is designed to support recent graduates and early career researchers to understand the different career opportunities and routes available to them, how best to achieve their goals, and how to develop their professional skills. The project was launched to student members at the Society’s annual Student Conference in September, which enabled initial engagement with some of the overall target group. During the scoping phase, a series of focus groups and employer interviews were conducted, as well as an online survey, to identify the needs of the target group. This has fed into the design of the project activities. The project will cover career coaching and readiness for the job market (defined as understanding roles available, potential career paths and where to look for jobs) as the clear priorities.

The second, and main, phase of the project had been launched. Activities in this phase will include Tailored Nutrition Career and Networking events, 1:1 and small group coaching sessions. This will result in a series of factsheets and blogs with tips, learnings and ideas uncovered at the events and through the project activities. The first activity was 1:1 careers coaching and CV review sessions which were held at Food Matters Live 2017.  

There will be project updates in future Society newsletters. You can also follow the project on social media to hear the latest information and insights 

This project is an important step in meeting the Society’s strategic plan outcomes. The project is being carefully analysed for its potential to deliver significant impact in supporting the future of UK, and global, nutritional science. These are indeed exciting times!

Mark Hollingsworth, CEO

Image: Dr Danielle McCarthy and Anna Wheeler presenting at the Student Conference 2017