Academic career journeys

What has helped me succeed - Cathy AbbottThe Careers Service and the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) have just launched a new resource to showcase the academic career journey from PhD student to group leader or head of institute. You’ll find it really useful to look at if you’re interested in developing an academic career after your PhD.

The resource is a collection of video case studies from individuals at the University of Edinburgh who are at different stages of the academic career journey and across a range of disciplines. The case studies show the challenges and rewards of an academic career, and the personal qualities and experiences that can be influential in helping individuals to progress an academic career. In addition, the videos demonstrate the type of support provided by PhD supervisors, research group leaders, and other academic colleagues that has helped the individuals progress their academic career.

To view the resource go to:

Academic career journeys

If you want a taster of what’s there, I’ve copied a few quotes from the case studies below.

Professor Cathy Abbott, Director of Postgraduate Research, Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, talks about the personal qualities that are important for success in academia.

One is being a good collaborator more so now than ever because so many projects have to be collaborative to work and particularly in medical research you really need to be able to work with people from a range of different disciplines to be able to get things done …… The other thing is I think you have to be quite robust ….. because you will get knocked back constantly. You’ll get papers rejected you get grants rejected and you have to have a kind of attitude that allows you to …… take the knocks but then just think that’s done and you’re going to move on.

Dr Joan Simon, Lecturer, School of Maths, talks about how pro-actively organising a trip of seminars led to academic job offers.

… organise a trip of seminars ….. extremely useful because at the end of the day the people that offered me a job most of them were among the people that I had visited….. we are far busier than what we should so people don’t have time to read your paper they don’t. But they give you one hour to tell them how good you are and how good your idea and how excellent your results are. So during those two months I had the impression that I did much more networking than writing several papers …… I was reluctant because in some sense it seems as if you are inviting yourself but the truth is that people were interested in listening to you

Dr Laura Jeffery, Lecturer, School of Social and Political Science talks about how post-doctoral fellowships give you time to develop your publication record and teaching experience.

Post-doctoral fellowships have long been central to the establishment of an academic career in the natural sciences and they’re increasingly becoming central to the establishment of academic careers in the social sciences and I think that this is going to continue into the future and certainly a post-doctoral fellowship helps people who’ve come from a shorter doctoral training programme to kind of catch-up with competitors from longer doctoral training programmes.

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