Positioning Yourself for a Career in Academia

While GRAIL designers and software engineers met in the lab, I headed off to a workshop for women graduate students and postdocs offered by the Career Centre called Positioning Yourself for a Career in Academia with Kim and Latika.

(left to right: Chris Teplovs, Mark Hume, Wendy Freeman & Clare Brett)

The workshop was in two parts. The first part provided an overview of academic job paths, academic journey, and a panel presentation on landing the first academic job. The second part broke out into two concurrent workshops (Divisions 1& 2: Humanities & Social Sciences; Divisions 3&4: Physical & Life Sciences) on academic choices and challenges–building your research portfolio, post-doc research, and balancing your life.

While some of the information presented on academic careers was not new to me, it was good to hear it again, and I really enjoyed hearing about the particular academic experiences of the women presenters. Many had been academics for over 30 years, and were still excited about research and teaching. Their stories were replete with challenges of balancing work and family*, but inspiring because they still thought that academia was the best or the only career choice for them.

Sometimes, as a full-time PhD student working away on my dissertation, I lose sight of the reason why I chose to quit a good job that I enjoyed, move across the country, and subsist on grants and assistantships. I wanted freedom to research what I wanted to research, and read and write about theoretical ideas that weren’t always practical and applied. While I’d like my research to have an educational application, I really do enjoy the theoretical stuff.

On the other hand, hearing about how these women dealt with the practical side of becoming and being an academic was also helpful to me. For example, I didn’t know that you could prepare for job interviews and negotiations by researching national, state or province, and institutional info:

American publication searcheable by state and institution:
Canadian Association for University Teachershttp://www.caut.ca/en/index.asp

There were many more resources on other topics presented in the workshop, but I can’t list them all here. So I’d recommend this workshop if it’s offered again. You might also be interested in *Balancing Work & Family workshop on Tues. March 28/06, 4-5pm. See the Career Centre website for details.


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