As of today it has been a whole year since I passed my viva for my PhD…how time flies!! I recently did an interview about my viva experiences with Nathan Ryder which will be available soon (I will update when it is available) but for now I wanted to reflect on my past year as an Early Career Academic. Trust me, getting the PhD is only the beginning if you want a career in academia!
I have three jobs since completing my PhD; two academic positions and one in the private sector. I worked for two months after my viva as a Market Researcher. There were few jobs available in academia at that time and I wanted to try something new. I quickly realised this wasn’t for me and when a teaching position came up at the institution where I got my PhD, I went for it and got it! I spent the following 8 months giving multiple tutorials and lectures, usually about other people’s work. It was time consuming and tiring work but in terms of my CV and skills it gave my teaching profile a real boost. I am now a Research associate for the Open University; a research only post which is great! I am currently writing up my thesis for publication and getting the opportunity to collaborate and develop my research interests. I have previously described my Early Career experience so far as being one where I feel very much in transition. This is still very much the case, even a year on and I think it important to make this point, especially given the nature of academic careers at present (for more discussion of this see my post and Melanie M Marshall’s excellent post).
In the last year I have benefitted greatly from getting much more involved in using different forms of social media. I have created my own blog, I have become Managing Editor of PhD2Published having contacted Charlotte and have worked out how Twitter works! I am now a Twitter addict and love using it to share my experiences and learn from others about everything academic related! I have ‘meet’ lots of great people and have developed my networks and have even found it useful for meeting people at conferences. A highlight of my year was receiving a Tweet from one of my audience members saying they enjoyed my conference paper!
I have also ‘met’ Jeremy Segrott and together we run the #acwri live chats on Twitter which are every fortnight on Thursdays, 6pm GMT. I enjoy being part of this community and love their enthusiasm about academic writing. Again this has helped me with my own writing, especially important while writing up and getting published is my main goal.
Training and Career Development
I am also currently creating a strategy for further career development. A colleague of mine recommended that I consider my research narrative in order to develop a strategy for pursuing and creating that narrative. I am very much interested in family life and relationships, things that I relate to on a daily basis and think that this is what I would like to pursue as a narrative. While broad, this gives me the opportunity to keep my options open and continue to research what I enjoy. My plan is to help on other projects relating to families and indeed soon I will be conducting interviews on a project with Brid Featherstone concerning families going through Child Protection procedures, but also to start developing my own research bids.
So, I have had a busy, unsettled year, but it has also been exciting and I am really enjoying my new research role at Open University. Being an Early Career Academic from my experience has not been a straightforward transition into a Lectureship which is what I had expected. I have had to continue to look for employment because of the short-term nature of the posts available and continue to develop my networks and skills. Nonetheless this has given me time to reflect on my experiences and to identify what I need to do next and this has been invaluable for me. Are you an Early Career academic? How do your experiences compared to my own?