Name: Fane Mensah
Current role: Third-year PhD student in medicine at University College London, a PhD representative on the BSI Forum and a very proud immunologist.
“As a PhD student, your PhD project takes up a lot of your time, and sometimes it seems that it controls your whole life. But, as an early career scientist in immunology, I think it is important to be aware of the opportunities in your field and surroundings. Therefore, I have made networking an important asset during my PhD. I use networking to meet as many people as possible – those who have been there and done it, people who have done the complete opposite of what you have in mind, and people who can introduce you to a different world of science/immunology.
“Importantly, I have also met people who have helped me forward with my PhD project. For example, my network has helped me to secure funding, initiate international collaborations and the opportunity to talk about my project in the media. For an early career immunologist, it is important not to be scared to meet people, even those in a much higher position. It is a great opportunity to level yourself up and mature in your field.
“I still everyday ask myself: what career perspectives do I have with my degree? What if plan A does not work out, what is my plan B, C or D? The only way to figure this out is to explore! Make sure you are able to showcase your different skills and talents, try to excel outside of your PhD project. A few examples I worked on are: managing junior ambassadors for a big international conference (GIANT); liaising between my university and companies/start-ups; actively being involved in the BSI Forum; and supervising BSc/MSc students.
“All of this is so important for putting yourself in a good position when you finish your PhD. Generate your network, let people know what your strengths are and prepare yourself for the next step. With the help of the BSI and their new careers strategy, I believe the future generation of early career immunologists will have a better perspective.”