Navigating Academic Careers
Onova highlights the extent to which you and those around you assess institutional expectations in relation to the role that you have.
You know, it’s masters, you know, that’s fleeting; a PhD, okay you are a little bit more serious but we don’t know where you are going to go or where you are going to end up; even at the post-doc level there was no guarantee that you’re going to continue to be around and so there is this sort of, “Oh yeah, okay, you’re still here, I know you.” But then as soon as you get the position it is like, “Alright, you are in the landscape, you’re a fixture now.” (Onova)
Below, Sophie and Daniel highlight two important aspects of negotiating their work environments: Sophie emphasizes role of the department in day-to-day work practices and Daniel the personal effort that is required to take advantage of the resources.
I always …think this is how [the university] runs, but then I talk to other people [who] say, ‘Well not really, it’s not how our department runs.’ (Sophie)
If you really want to have access to a number of things, it takes a lot of effort from your side …No one is there to explain …how things work. No one takes the time to tell you that. They just take it for granted. And if you’re not able to find out …you don’t really seize the opportunity that you have in front of you. (Daniel)
In other words, universities are not all the same. They vary institutionally in terms of history and purpose, as well as structures, resources and expectations. They also vary across countries influenced by national/state/provincial policies. This variation can profoundly influence day-to-day work and surprised some of the participants in our research.
Based on our findings, we suggest, if possible, that you explore the purpose and structure of potential employing institutions. This can help you to: a) compare your personal goals and work preferences against those of the institution, as well as b) navigate the expectations, resources and practices of the new location.
Explore the other themes
Researcher Identity Development (2020).
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Improving the careers and well-being of researchers