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Dr Ali Ehsan

Ali is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at The University of Manchester. Working within the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, his research focuses on understanding how uncertainty can impact the future electricity, gas and heat networks.

Ali has four years of postdoctoral experience under his belt and is interested in using his diverse skill set to develop and promote technologies that solve energy and sustainability problems.

Role on starting Prosper cohort

Research Associate, Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, the University of Manchester 

Case study conducted

May 2023. 

The challenge

When Ali joined the second Prosper pilot, he was keen to take the opportunity to improve his skillset with regards to networking, job applications, and other aspects relating to career development.

But more broadly he also wanted to gain a clearer sense of his long-term professional future. While his instinct told him that he wanted to continue down the more ‘traditional’ academic career pathway, he also had doubts. He felt he simply did not know enough about his options beyond academia to be able to rule alternatives out, and wanted to be able to make a more informed decision.

“One of the major challenges I faced was deciding on a specific direction for my career.

The Prosper journey

Ali made extensive use of Prosper’s ‘Act’ resources relating to CVs, social media, networking, and the job application process, in order to improve his knowledge of his options and his chances of securing opportunities of interest.

He found sessions on LinkedIn especially useful - learning how to effectively market himself and his skills, and exchange information with peers along the way. He also made good use of the various sessions around networking, putting what he learned into practice to expand his professional network and make more connections within the academic community and beyond.

“What stood out to me was the sessions on networking. They provided me with new opportunities and helped me to feel more connected to the broader academic community.

As well as engaging with the ‘Act’ section of Prosper, Ali also found the career clusters information in ‘Explore’ beneficial for getting a better sense of the alternative that various career pathways within industry could offer him.

Combined with the more inward-looking resources on offer in ‘Reflect’, Ali found his attitude towards his professional future shifting. While he still wanted to pursue an academic route as a first port of call, he became more open to the idea of a career beyond academia. Instead of viewing ‘academia vs industry’ as an all-encompassing choice he had to make now, he started to view his options beyond academia as something
to keep in mind, a potential avenue always open to him in the future, should circumstances change or the right opportunity arise.

Thanks in part to Prosper’s resources, as well as his newfound approach to networking, Ali has a much better sense of what sort of jobs are out there should he ever decide to switch – and has the skills to continue to build this knowledge-base, wherever his career journey takes him.

“With the help of mentors and some personal reflection, I was able to gain clarity about my future aspirations.

Next steps

At the time of writing, Ali is continuing in his current postdoctoral role at The University of Manchester. Meanwhile, he’s putting Prosper’s job hunting tools and advice into practice by actively applying for new jobs within academia.

Ali’s engagement with Prosper confirmed his desire to continue down the academic pathway. But it also equipped him with a better understanding of the alternative pathways open to him, and the skills to more effectively pursue opportunities in general, both within and beyond academia. It helped him realise that career development is less about one-off decisions, and more about a persistent landscape of potential, to be continually revisited and reconsidered as your career journey progresses.

“I am still primarily interested in an academic career, but I am now open to exploring other paths in future.

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