Archives for category: I haz a direction
Tyre not part of pension plan

Tyre not part of pension plan

So the new job has started and it is pretty full on – not necessarily in terms of workload (um, yet – I know you cannot spell hubris without ‘I’) but in terms of culture shock, a slightly different commute, different attire, and quite a lot of travel in the past few weeks. I really haven’t settled in enough to know whether this is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, only that I am very tired (as per portrait above). But! here are a couple of thoughts about work so far, inasmuch as they refer to Operation Run Away From Academia, Do Not Look Back:

– As I mentioned in my last post, there are elements of this job which are alt-ac and these are the ones I am most uncomfortable with so far; I think for a clean break I really need to be in a workplace which isn’t about academia, no no no.

– In my past few jobs I have been doing a thing – call it Fish Wrangling – that I had just taken as part of my work without it giving it too much thought. In new job there is not so much of the Fish Wrangling, and I am realising just how much I like to wrangle fish and how important it is to me. Not a big deal for now – I can probably wrangle few fish here, out of my own initiative – but it is useful to know and not something I probably would have realised otherwise.

– There is some potential grit in my role which I haven’t worked out yet if it’s manageable, or if it’s a permanent part of the scenery – if the latter then thoughts about the next step out might come sooner.

– Also I am not really out of academia as I still have my book to write plus several papers from my last project which I’m bound into co-authorship on. No bad thing again, but it means I cannot RUN RUN RUN for the next while.

This all sounds a little bah but it isn’t, not really. In academia there’s a very specific set of functions that almost any job will have – a fair amount of teaching, some time for research, and a bucket of admin. Out of the ivory tower those functions can be mixed up any which way with an added buffet of whole new and exciting and it’s difficult to know what you’ll get, or what you’ll want – who knew that Fish Wrangling was so important? Me, now, but not me 3 months ago. I am so grateful to you other little dudes out in the post-ac blogo-cybersphere, and especially to young Currer Bell – reading about someone else who has made the transition out and it not be a bed of roses straight away has been hugely helpful in seeing how people cope when the first job out isn’t necessarily the right one, but just a stepping stone to the next thing. Anyway, for now I have the immense luxury of gainful employment (YES), a place to start stretching myself, and time to think about what next*. The job is interesting and will certainly teach me a lot. I’ll be keeping up with the blogging and the conversations and looking forward to that exciting new leaving academia e-book I hear is on the horizon…

*What next is actually a ton of white water rafting and kayaking at the centre a mere busride from Partner Piglet’s joint, oh yes.



YOU GUYS! I GOT A JOB! INDEED, ONE OF THE JOBS I WROTE ABOUT IN THE LAST POST, JOB #1 IN FACT! Let me tell you about it but not in caps lock!

So – this will test the limits of my pseudonymity. If you know me already, you can probabaly guess my sekrit identity from this post; if not, I will hopefully still remain shrouded in mystery (as per picture above). Read the rest of this entry »

For the record, adorability is a transferable skill

For the record, adorability is a transferable skill

ITEM: I sent off my two job applications and now have an interview for Job #1 this week! Also I contacted someone who’d worked for the organisation involved with Job #2 who said that  even if I didn’t get shortlisted, I should contact hir anyway. I am feeling pretty chipper about all of this, and also wondering if I applied for Job #1 in too much of a panic as it’s a bit below my abilities; but I will go to the interview anyway and see what happens.

(NB. This, btw, is why I’m keeping my identity as Dr Piglet for now rather than Dr Realname, so I can actually talk about this stuff to a wider audience).

So I thought I’d write up a couple of notes on what I’d learnt from writing the applications in case other escaping academics found them useful (although Karen Kelsky thinks we will all be making up our own jobs soon, which may be true in a couple of years but for now I’m getting on with this).

Both jobs asked for a CV, details of how I’d meet the ‘essential requirements’, and a short statement on why I wanted the job. Job#1 is as part of a university (possibly alt-ac although I would prefer not to think of it that way) so wanted a lot more detail than most private sector jobs do. Fairly obviously, once I’d written the first application it was much easier to do the second as I had a clearer idea of what I was doing, and also a bunch of material to copypasta from one to t’other.  Read the rest of this entry »

Be prepared for FUN!

Bit of an interesting week here at Piglet Towers as I think I have figured out what career path I want to take when I run screaming (squealing?) from the academy. This is pretty exciting, but I have been brought back to earth with a hefty thump as Profession X – as I shall be mysteriously referring to it – is one that requires no small amount of retraining and  is rather competitive to get into. Eek. I feel moderately well prepared – it is actually the career I nearly went into as an undergraduate but bailed at the last minute, so have some of the background already. On the other hand I am *cough cough* years older than I when I was a tiny drunken first-year student so need to see what extra things I need to do now to have a chance.

This, of course, has made me realise how little preparation  I did before embarking on my mighty foreshortened life of an academic. I did research for my PhD topic of course – as is reasonably standard in the UK social sciences I prepared the topic myself, found a supervisor and applied for funding alone. But that was it – all of the focus was on getting into the PhD program and getting it done, and once I was in it was assumed that I would of course mystically transform into an academic at the end. I, like many other post-academics, had no idea what it actually meant in terms of work, publishing, politics, teaching load, and so on. All I knew was that it would be Magical Dream Professor Land!!!11!! Maybe I would get a pony if I published enough!!!11!!

By contrast, this is what I have done in the past 7 days around Profession X.

– Looked up the admission criteria.

– Made an appointment with a university that offers Profession X conversions to talk about my chances.

– Found an online forum with other wannabes

After the meeting with admissions folk I’ll have more of an idea what I need to do, but I imagine it will involve work experience of various types, more research, and speaking with as many Professional X’s as I can. Imagine, though, if I had done this much research into becoming an academic – I wouldn’t have stayed after the end of my PhD, if I’d ever started it in the first place.

I know there are differences – going to into Profession X is a massive investment of my time, energy and money (thank-you David Willets and your amazing fee increase!) so of course it’s in my best interest to research it as much as possible. Also I am now much older than I was when I went into the PhD program (*sob*) so know more about how to get involved in work experience, research and so on.  But on the other hand – where is all the equivalent material about what it means to become an academic? Where are the open days, the speakers, the easily accessible material for wannabe academics to test the waters and find out more about just what it means to enter a career which sucks so much time and energy and money out of you? Where is the goddamn professionalism?? Everything is focused on getting people into the Ponzi scheme of PhDs and postdocs rather than preparation for what comes after, mostly likely because what comes after is a world of temporary contracts and insecurity. GRRRRR.

Anyway – wish me luck because, as excited as I am about Profession X I am also scared about how hard it is to break into. Still, I am plucky and resourceful! Also the sun is still out, and I have Jurassic 5 fired up on the old music system. Tell me what you guys think – should there be more  systematised ‘Here Be Dragons’ warnings for wannabe academics? Does this stuff already exist and I never came across it? And what else are your feel-good tunes for hot days?