Dr Catherine Hayer

Catherine joined Prosper as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manchester. Working within the faculty of Science and Engineering, Catherine specialised in using satellite remote sensing technologies to detect trace gases from volcanoes. A keen advocate of equality and inclusion, Catherine worked as a Widening Participation Fellow to improve STEM university participation for students from under-represented socio-economic groups.

Role on starting Prosper cohort

Postdoctoral Researcher, Faculty of Science and Engineering, The University of Manchester.

Case study conducted

May 2023. 

The challenge

When Catherine joined Prosper, she had a general, uncertain sense that she might want to explore a career
beyond academia. But, like many postdocs with this feeling, she didn’t know where to start looking, and felt she lacked an informed understanding of her options.

“I knew that I probably wanted to leave academia, but I didn’t know where to start or where to go.

The Prosper journey

Catherine hoped that Prosper would give her the time and mental space to work out what she wanted to do in her career. Engaging with the ‘Reflect’ section of Prosper, she was able to figure out her career priorities, and what she wanted – and didn’t want – from her next role.

Armed with this self-understanding, she then took advantage of the ‘Explore’ resources to get a better sense of the opportunities available out there for somebody with her specialist knowledge and skillset. The weather monitoring and satellite agency space caught her eye, and struck her as an area she might both be suited to, and interested in.

“Prosper helped me to work out what I do and don’t want from a job, how to pitch my skills, and how to be more confident in myself going forward.

The group coaching sessions helped crystallise her ambition to make the leap beyond academia. She felt able
to talk openly about her career anxieties, doubts and hopes. The other postdocs in the group helped her think through the decision, and weigh up the pros and cons.

Once she decided it was what she wanted, Prosper’s ‘Act’ resources played an important role in enabling her to take the next concrete step. Sessions on CVs, applications and interviews improved her ability to articulate her skills in a concise and effective way. As she gained practice, she gained confidence, both in herself as a candidate, and in her ability to navigate a once-unfamiliar process.

“My coach and the other postdocs in my group kept me motivated. You will have to have some hard conversations with yourself, and this is easier to do when you have that support.

Next steps

Catherine was able to put what she had learned into practice, and soon secured a role as a Consultant Software Engineer for EUMETSAT, the European operational satellite agency. Her new role involves working on the calibration and validation of data from European meteorological satellites for three upcoming satellite missions.

“I don’t think that I’d have had the confidence to interview for my current role if it hadn’t been for Prosper.

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