Not surprisingly, people who share a passion for something tend to band together with like-minded others to swap views and ideas. Think political parties, think fan clubs, think Real Ale Society. So if you are fascinated by your subject, then you may be interested in finding out about the ‘Learned Societies’. I was, so I went over to a conference in Lancaster last week to get more information.
It turns out that many academic subjects have a Learned Society. Their role is to promote the subject and provide services for the students, researchers and academics who study it. There are quite a lot of LSocs (as I’ve decided to call them) and a list of them appears at the end of this blog.
So why join an LSoc? Well, if you join you can expect access to things like careers advice such as mentoring, student grants, work experience, conferences, and free training courses. These kinds of benefits can definitely be of benefit to you. LSocs also have member databases that are useful for networking with specialists in your subject. There’s usually a membership fee unfortunately but with some societies your initial membership period could be free.
Getting involved like this can add to your network, and you can also add to your reputation by volunteering on a committee or helping run one of their events. Meanwhile some students win LSoc awards, meaning you can get noticed by some big names in your field.
LSocs are especially useful if you want to have a career in your subject. Many members are working as researchers in their discipline, either in universities, research institutes, industry or charities. Indeed, if you want to do a PhD or are already doing one, and hoping to eventually become a university lecturer, then I’d say make sure you get the most out of your Learned Society. Only a fraction of PhD researchers ultimately get a full-time academic career so you’ll need all the help and professional exposure you can get.
As well as the LSocs, there are many other subject and professional associations, so if you can’t find something that is relevant to you on the list below, there may well be another body that shares your career or academic interests. Just ask the Careers Service if you want help finding them.
The conference I attended was called ‘Learning from the Learned Societies in the Biosciences’, and included advice about working as a lecturer, plus careers information for Bioscience students. So if you’re studying in that field read my full report here.
Meanwhile here’s that list of the different LSocs that I was talking about….just google 'em for details.
Institute of Physics
Royal Society of Chemistry
Royal Geographical Society
European Geosciences Union
Royal Mathematical Society
Royal Statistical Society
HUMANITIES & SOCIAL SCIENCES
British Psychological Society
Society of Biology
British Ecological Society
NON-MEDICAL PLANT, ANIMAL, CELL BIOLOGY
Society for Experimental Biology
British Pharmacological Society
Society for General Microbiology
Society for Applied Microbiology
Royal Entomological Society
British Society for Plant Pathology
British Mycological Society
Society for Endocrinology
British Immunology Society
British Lichen Society
Marine Biological Association
Marcus (Careers Adviser)