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Should I stay in academia? March 31, 2010

Posted by qmresearchers in Coaching Tools.

Yesterday, I attended a Vitae course called Careers in focus: Careers in Academia. It was an inspiring course for PhDs/postdocs with advice and tips from academics from both Humanities and Social Science as well as Science and Technology. I use many of the elements of this course in my course Career Exploration for Research Students: Careers in academia which you can book on the ESD website. The next one is on 15th April 10.00 – 13.00.

I spoke to many of the attendees at this conference and many were quite certain that an academic career was the route for them. Obviously, there is an ascertainment bias here as they were attending a course about academic careers!

However, I often see people who are far less certain about their future career decision. Many early career researchers that I see, would like to stay in research, if only there were more academic positions available, no short-term contracts and academia was less competitive.

I recently ran a workshop where I used a simple tool called ‘Grid Analysis‘ to help early career researchers think about career decision-making. Although making a future career decision is very complex, this tool can help to simplify things a little. It is fun and helps you to weigh up factors such as:

  • How important is working flexibly to you? Does an academic career give this to you?
  • How important is it that you work with like-minded colleagues?  Does and academic career give this to you?

Many of the researchers that used this tool found that it offered no surprises but did reinforce some of their thoughts and considerations!

Click on gridanalysis to open a grid on which I have chosen factors that may influence your career decision. Feel free to design your own one with factors that might be important to you in a future career.



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