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But I just didn't know what options were open to me."Martin heard about UK GRADschool through his funding body and decided to sign up for a five-day residential course in the Lake District.

It turned out to be one of the best decisions he could have made.

Using research and communication skills, they have to negotiate between the various stakeholders and pressure groups to come up with the best solution to the problem.

But, although one of the main objectives of UK GRAD schools is to help Ph D students to make the transition into non-academic careers, they are also beneficial for those planning to pursue academic careers.

A similar session is offered for the public sector.

Students are given a scenario from the environmental sector and are asked to resolve an environmental incident.

The mere mention of terms like "team-building" and "personal development", let alone the prospect of spending a week cooped up with a random group of Ph D students, is enough to send many doctorate students running back to the lab.

So are GRADschools just another futile, if well-meaning, attempt to develop "soft" skills, or do they genuinely have something to offer?

"Along with the pressure of finishing up, there was also the worry about what to do next", he says.

"Even though I enjoyed my Ph D, I wasn't sure about staying in academia, and I wanted to explore other career possibilities.

But, though you may not be guaranteed to meet your future life partner, one thing you will gain from a GRADschool is the chance to think seriously about your future career. Less than half of all Ph D graduates nowadays enter academia on graduation and it is estimated that only 20 per cent of Ph Ds will end up with a full-time academic job.