GRADnet Employer Engagement Programme for Postgraduate Research Students (PGRs) and PDRAs


Physics research students have highly developed problem-solving skills, strong analytical and mathematical skills, and fresh ideas which are hugely valuable to industry in a number of sectors. They have many options once they complete their degrees; research is one, but commonly more postgraduates take up roles in industry as soon as they complete their PhDs. (Click on our recent infograph ‘Where Do Physics PhD Graduates Go?’ below).

SEPnet, through its graduate network GRADnet, aims to provide its postgraduate researcher students (PGRs) and early career researchers (ECRs) with insights and experience of careers beyond academia, so they have an understanding of how their research fits into the business environment and business needs, and so they can play a significant role in driving innovation in industry. To find out which sectors and companies recent SEPnet PhD graduates now work in and for useful career links, click on the 2-sided image below.

What we offer employers

GRADnet’s Employer Engagement Programme offers industry access to some of the brightest minds and skilled problem solvers through placements and other employer-led opportunities for physics postgraduate research students (PGRs). We provide employers with:

  • Access to physics researchers across nine universities
  • Opportunities to conduct feasibility studies, analyse data and tap into new ideas
  • Access to knowledge exchange, consultancy and collaborative research opportunities
  • Industry-academia networking events
  • The support of a team of specialist employability advisors.

What employers can offer

  • Short consultancy projects/placements 1 to 3 weeks
  • Short block placements 1 to 3 months
  • Site visits, tours and work shadowing
  • Mentoring – one-off or ongoing (see below for more details)
  • Technical and employability skills training at our training courses

Want to know more? Click here to read about some of our PGRs’ placements, and download our ‘Guidance for Employers’ information sheet (pdf).

To offer an opportunity register online here:

For enquiries contact:

Employers with an interest specifically in data science and machine learning may also want to contact The Data Intensive Science Centre in SEPnet, DISCnet, which is an STFC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT). DISCnet students spend six months in a non-University environment to undertake research that exploits their data intensive science skills.

What we offer PGRs

Through its extensive industry contacts, GRADnet offers a programme of training to develop entrepreneurship and commercial awareness, crucially informed by employer engagement and real-world problem-solving. Opportunities include:

  • business-led training within the GRADnet programme
  • short paid placements in companies (click here to read about some of our PGRs’ placements)
  • networking events to help develop your contacts and polish your employability skills
  • paid secondments within SEPnet universities to develop the commercial potential of university projects (working on Impact Acceleration Accounts).

Whether you intend to pursue a career in academia or industry, these opportunities enable you to develop and apply your technical skills and knowledge, learn new skills, e.g. programming, improve your project management, presentation and communication skills, gain wider industry experience, and find out about career opportunities, develop your entrepreneurship and commercial awareness.

For more information and guidelines for PGRs see here.

For enquiries or a list of opportunities, contact:

To apply for an opportunity register online here:

Mentoring Opportunities

SEPnet strongly supports employer mentoring as a tool for developing students’ potential and enhancing career opportunities. SEPnet, through its Graduate Network (GRADnet), offers mentoring opportunities with employers for physics postgraduate research students (PGRs) across the 9 partners institutions.

“It was great to meet Jane Ireland because she works in the intersection of academia and industry based at NPL and so can give insight into both. In our first meeting we broadly discussed the sorts of career paths that I’m interested in.”– PGR student, Queen Mary University of London 

Benefits for the employer mentor

  • broadening your own skills, knowledge and personal development;
  • increasing personal and professional networks;
  • the opportunity to support students and make a valuable contribution to education, skills development and society.

Benefits to the student mentee

  • help with developing your career path or an understanding of the requirements to get into a field of interest;
  • advice on how to stand out and improve employability;
  • help with tailoring your CV so that it stands out or develop and practise your interviewing skills;
  • gaining from the knowledge, experience and expertise of someone about a specialist career area or industry field;

Want to know more? Download our Guidance for Mentors and Mentees information sheet (pdf).  You can read our recent report and case study here: SEPnet Employer Mentoring for PGRs

To offer a mentoring opportunity contact

To apply for a mentoring opportunity register online here:

For a list of mentoring opportunities, contact