Kate joined POST in 2011 through a scheme offered by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, BBRC (now part of the UK Research and Innovation policy internship). She was keen to pursue a career outside academia in either science communication or science policy and hoped that a POST fellowship may help her realise that ambition. And the idea of experience working in Parliament in London was a great draw.

Now Kate is the Deputy Director International at UK Research and Innovation, which happens to be the largest funder of POST fellows today.

The POST experience

As for many POST fellows, Kate’s first week at POST was a bit daunting but exciting at the same time. She remembers having to get up to speed on the POSTnote production process while she and the rest of the fellows got the topics they would be focusing on. “It was great to be part of a cohort of POST fellows who were in the same boat as me to share the experience with,” says Kate, referring to the small groups of fellows that often start their fellowship at the same time. “Additionally, all the staff at POST were friendly and supportive which helped to get settled in.”

Kate spent her three months at POST working on a POSTnote on biomedical patents. “My time at POST was one of the best experiences I have had in my career,” she says. “It gave me unrivalled insight into how Parliament works and the important role that experts and organisations such as POST have in helping to ensure parliamentarians have accurate, impartial information on key issues related to science and technology.” While her time at POST flew by, she expanded her professional network and she made many new friends.

The biggest surprise for Kate was perhaps all the extras; all the other things she was able to do alongside her fellowship. These ranged from attending science policy debates with high profile panels and conferences, to attending Prime Minister’s Questions. “It seemed like every week there was opportunity to do something new and exciting.”

Life after POST

After her fellowship and nearing the end of her PhD, Kate’s next step was to find a job. “I knew before starting the fellowship that my next career move would likely take me out of academia. What I hadn’t anticipated was that I would end up working for the organisation that had funded my POST Fellowship.” In early 2012, Kate joined BBSRC as a Strategy and Policy Officer for Bioenergy.

She’s thankful of her experience at POST as she thinks it helped her in a number of ways. “It provided an experience outside the academic, laboratory-based setting I had spent almost all my time and helped give me an additional and unique experience to draw upon when applying for jobs.” Through the POST fellowship she also encountered new organisations and people she doesn’t think she would have come across otherwise. “This helped broaden my awareness of the types of organisations and roles I could go into and provided some useful contacts too.”

Advice for POST fellows

There were a lot of lessons to be learnt at POST, Kate says, but one of the key skills she developed was producing documents that effectively land key messages with the target audience. “I learnt the discipline of providing information-rich, yet short and accessible information for senior people. A skill which I still use in my job today.”

If you get yourself a POST fellowship, Kate’s advice is to make the most of your time with POST and take advantage of the opportunities it provides that you wouldn’t otherwise have access to. “POST provides a well-rounded experience and helps equip you with new skills, networks and provides an experience which is useful no matter what your next career move may be.”

You can find Kate on Twitter @KateHamer2

POST Fellowship Spotlights

A series of interviews with previous POST fellows exploring the POST experience, life after the fellowship, and advice to new fellows.