shannon's timeline

Shannon was a professional promoting social justice issues in North America. A colleague encouraged her to apply for a scholarship in Europe since it would develop her expertise. The scholarship was awarded, so she left her close-knit family intent on doing professional work in the same vein when she graduated. She joined the UK study in her third year and was 25 when she graduated.

What struck us about Shannon’s story was: 

Work-life balance and impact of re-locating. 

Managing work in post-PhD work and developing new skills. 

Wanted professional role but postponed career thinking until finished degree and work environment untenable in first post-PhD position, so sought other position. 

 

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

 Post-PhD

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

Post-PhD

 

Year 4

Post-PhD

Year 5

 

PhD

Year 3

Family, a key source of support and she kept in touch by phone and skype.

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Maintained interest during degree to return to professional work.

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Completed field work and worked on writing thesis.

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Academic writing difficult; would it make a difference? Kept on due to sense of purpose to research participants.

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Work patterns and colleagueship greatly affected by enforced office move.

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Enjoyed pastoral work as junior dean in her residence.

Found academic work draining and working with people energising.

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Postponed thinking about her next steps until the degree was finished.

 

PhD

Year 4

Post-PhD

Year 1

With degree done, first time in 4 years she felt able to rest.

Completed her PhD; finally felt like a colleague with her supervisors. 

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Hoped to write papers to make a difference to the families in her study; did not succeed.

Offered one-year position as junior dean; gave her time to find a job.

Decided to seek work near her family;

Worried about work burden and change of pace; dreading the move a bit.

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Post-PhD

Year 2

Moved back in with parents; liked  undemanding support.

New job exactly suited her but struggled with workload; ‘What I am going to do?’.

Offered two-year senior professional position in a large educational organization.

Took up a sports activities to enforce a break from work.

Boss a good mentor, but neither boss nor colleagues managed work-life balance.

Unlikely to stay after boss left.

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Work provided different window on research; only useful if immediate, applied, actionable results.

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 Post-PhD

 

Year 3 

Still at home: comfortable and no emotional energy to find an alternative; tried another sport that was more social.

Still a high workload: working evenings and weekends; didn’t want this pace.

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Developed new managerial and political skills and learned to multi-task effectively.

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Wanted to get married and have kids.

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Looked locally to maintain family support.

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Began job-seeking for a slower-paced job working directly with families and communities.

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Approached by someone in her network about a possible job.

 

Post-PhD

Year 4

Better work-life balance, so began to socialise and work with youth group.

Job a good fit personality-wise and offered positive quality of life: life and work  experience give her legitimacy.

Began new four-year senior position at a small NGO working with families.

Still at home; different dynamic to when growing up.

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Started to increase research within organisation and improve capacity of staff.

Got promoted after only 6 months instead of the expected 18 to second most senior position.

 

Post-PhD

Year 5

Had greater balance between work and rest of life; started dating a ‘great guy’.

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Varied role: administration, writing, giving presentations, management and consulting.

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Had shaped her role and brought in own interests.

Could see what needs to happen to help the organisation move forward.

 

What struck us

Work-life balance.

Re-location.

Managing work.

Developing new skills.

Wanted professional role throughout degree but postponed career thinking until finished.

Work environment untenable, so sought other position.

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