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Dr Briony Banks

When Briony joined Prosper in 2022, she was a Senior Research Associate at Lancaster University. As a postdoc working within the Psychology Department, Briony carried out research in psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology to study how we understand concepts

Briony’s journey culminated in her moving into the third sector, where she now works as a Senior Research Scientist at the Ambition Institute – an education charity dedicated to helping disadvantaged school children via the provision of training and professional development to teachers.

Role on starting Prosper cohort

Senior Research Associate, Psychology Department, Lancaster University. 

Case study conducted

May 2023. 

The challenge

When Briony first joined the Prosper pilot, she was dissatisfied with aspects of her career journey-to-date.
She felt she had lacked the confidence to chart a course that suited her goals and ambitions.

Briony was keen to figure out what she really wanted from her career, what she valued most in a job, and why
she hadn’t got what she wanted from her roles up until that point. She was determined to put herself first going
forward, and ensure that her next role was not just a good fit for her technical skillset, but also a source of
personal satisfaction.

“Very early on I realised that I hadn’t always made good career decisions, and I’d ended up in roles that weren’t that fulfilling for me.

The Prosper journey

Briony really valued the ‘Reflect’ portion of the Prosper offering, with its emphasis on self-assessment, self-reflection and identity. She developed new ways of evaluating her values and career, and made heavy use of journaling to keep a record of them. As a result, she was able to think deeply and systematically about what she wanted from her career, and make a more informed decision about her next step.

“The journaling and reflecting were the most useful parts of Prosper for me. I learned about what I really value in a career, and that I need to follow my values.

The community element of Prosper also proved important, including group coaching sessions with other postdocs from a variety of disciplines. She became friends with a few, and they took the time each month to check-in with each other from career development perspective, providing mutual support and advice on applications. She also felt supported by her coach, who gave her invaluable advice on how to move forward with the process, and how to sell herself in interviews.

The practical resources on offer in ‘Act’ proved similarly useful to Briony. Learning the ‘STAR’ (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method completely changed the way she approached job applications, enabling her to showcase her skills in a concise way, tailored to the requirements of the role in question. As she grew more confident about what she wanted from her career, she started applying for vacancies in a range of areas - from public and third sector roles through to lectureships within academia.

“My group coach was brilliant. She helped me get out of an ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’ panic, and gave me some useful tips for interviews.

Next steps

Briony used her newfound skills to secure a role as a Senior Research Scientist at Ambition Institute where she carries out research into education and professional development for teachers. The position is a good example of what is sometimes termed an ‘academia adjacent’ position – though not within academia per se, it still involves a heavy research-based element.

Briony found the transition to a non-academic work culture much smoother than initially expected. She enjoys the challenge of a new area of research, and not only feels valued in her new role, but also rewarded by the positive impact her work has on peoples’ lives.

“I’m enjoying my new role so far and I definitely think it was the right move for me. I’m conducting education research for a charity and I’m enjoying doing something that will have a direct impact on people’s lives.

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