charles' timeline

Charles worked in a professional role in North America before starting a PhD in a local university to ensure proximity to his elderly parents and partner. He aimed to secure a research-teaching position after completing his PhD. He liked the idea of being hired for his research interests and potential contribution to the field. He began participating in the Canadian research in his fourth year of the degree and graduated in 2008 in his mid-30s. 

 

What struck us about Charles's story was: 

 

Influence of his parents’ health. 

Challenges of publishing during degree and dramatic difference in institutional climate and expectations in researcher post. 

Starting job-seeking late and re-thinking career intentions after disappointing research contract. 

 

PhD

Year 4

PhD

Year 5

PhD

Year 6

 Post-PhD

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

 

PhD

Year 4

Managed health issues for parents; family responsibilities a priority, so work fell by the wayside.

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Had proposal defence; changes needed; supervisor very supportive; approval a psychological milestone, but critical feedback a shock; depressed by need to revise.

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Struggled with self-discipline and prioritising academic activities and commitments.

Attended presentation by a non-profit organization; empowered by the variety of positions open to a PhD graduate.

 

PhD

Year 5

Believed his PhD was ‘important enough’ to devote 6 years, despite sacrificing time with family, friends and partner.

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Enjoyed intellectual team environment created by supervisor.

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Tried to publish; feedback  was horrendous; ‘such a blow to the ego; I was really injured by it’.

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Believed a singular focus on one idea was necessary to carry anyone through a research-teaching career.

 

PhD

Year 6

Drew on family and friends (non-academic) for support.

Pressured to finalise dissertation by university deadline.

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Limited job search due to family.

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Very few research-teaching positions; applied for 3 local ones; devastated when no response; stressed - ‘what am I going to do next?’.

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Completed degree; felt gained self-confidence from positive interaction with supervisor.

....

 

Post-PhD

Year 1

Since family members ill, decided to apply since he wouldn’t need to move.

Researcher position became available in same university in a different field.

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Closed the office door at 5 pm; enjoyed having a more balanced life.

Little independence and relationship with supervisors not positive; decided to treat job as 9-5 responsibility.

Increasingly disenchanted with academia.

 

Post-PhD

Year 2

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Got 2 papers published, including one abandoned during his PhD - ‘It was like WOW’.

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Disliked limited time to spend with friends, family; questioned the cost of academe on personal life.

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Near contract end, epiphany as to why did PhD; reconnected with his professional interests.

Overwhelming desire to do more in life.

Spent a few months volunteering with several community organizations.

Foresaw being a professional, either self-employed or in a public/private agency.

 

Post-PhD

Year 3

...

Started position in private foundation; enjoyed his work; ‘great to work with dedicated people who deeply believe in importance of helping others’.

Noted satisfaction of bringing together academic training, professional experience, and social justice.

 

What struck us

Parental health.

The challenges of publishing.

Dramatic difference in institutional climate and expectations.

Starting job-seeking late.

Re-thought career intentions after disappointing research contract.

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Researcher Identity Development (2017). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License