trudi's timeline

Trudi, age 36 on joining the UK study, came from Australasia and had migrated to work in a professional position. Later she returned to study, completing her Master’s and then a PhD when aged 33. Her partner remained overseas due to his work commitments. When she joined the study Trudi was working in a researcher post in a university research institute; she was interested in pursuing an academic career, yet was concerned about job insecurity. By the end of the study she had secured a permanent academic position; however, she had become less certain about the academy as a long-term career.

What struck us about Trudi’s story was: 

Work-life balance, relationships and location. 

Taking on management responsibilities, research funding and publications. 

Commitment to academia, job security and strategic career planning. 

 

 Post-PhD

 

Year 3

 Post-PhD

 

Year 4

Post PhD

 

Year 5

Post PhD

 

Year 6

Post PhD

 

Year 7

Post PhD

Year 8

 

Post-PhD

Year 3

Partner and close family overseas. Saw isolation from family as a trade-off against working at a recognised research intensive university.

Worked in a researcher position in a university research institute.

...

Saw work-life balance as important, so appreciated the flexibility of academia; would like to have children in the future.

Enthusiastic about her research, and recognised her privilege in having secured five-year funding.

Long fixed term contract provided some security, yet saw academia as insecure; ‘everyone is insecure … because you’re only as good as your last article’.

...

Lamented the lack of teaching in her role, but was co-supervising a doctoral candidate.

Saw PhD supervision as an important part of becoming a full academic.

...

Focused on writing for publication and writing grant applications.

...

 

Post-PhD

Year 4

Continued to miss family; although she had a strong circle of UK friends.

Continued to work in the research institute with increased responsibilities.

An academic career was uncertain, as her appointment was fixed term.

Partner still overseas and they had become engaged to be married.

She had sought out teaching – for both enjoyment and career enhancement.

Previously her career was unplanned, though now she was being strategic. She had begun to consciously gain skills as experiences to fill perceived gaps in her CV.

...

She was collaborating with a colleague to apply for external funding.

....

Partner’s work travel commitments were significant. So, living together full-time was not a practical option no matter where she was based.

...

...

 

Post-PhD

Year 5

Partner still overseas and wedding preparations in progress.

Secured external funding for a research project; took on a management role in the research institute.

Thought of her career to date as an apprenticeship, with success hard won.

...

Additional responsibilities meant an increase in hours worked each week. Time management became a major issue. Despite the long hours she had trouble finding time to write.

...

...

Despite successes her employment was still for the original fixed period.

....

...

...

Uncertain about staying in academe long term; even so, she was seeking an ongoing job contract at the university.

 

Post-PhD

Year 6

Newly married with her partner still away for work; buying a house near the university.

Was considering whether to start a family.

Took on extra management responsibilities. This meant that she reduced her teaching load and felt her ability to conduct research was compromised.

Sought a permanent university job, yet ambivalent about an academic career.

Spent a lot of time seeking external research funding. Had experienced some success, which generated extra workload.

Still concerned about her fixed term employment status, which she saw as typical of the UK university sector.

...

Although still very busy, placed stricter boundaries on her working hours.

....

...

Had taken up a craft hobby as a way to introduce a better work-life balance.

...

Attracted to the idea of pursuing craft-based work coupled with consultancy.

 

Post-PhD

Year 7

Current high pressure lifestyle unsustainable; death of a friend prompted reconsideration of priorities.

Additional management responsibilities left no time for her research. Although she helped others pursue their research and develop careers.

Her recent career was driven by the desire to secure a permanent job. This meant strategic decisions to take on important roles and a commitment to long work hours.

...

Seeking research funding a major time commitment. Success was necessary to continue the viability of the research institute.

...

...

Most of her publications reports rather than academic journals, therefore her research had high impact but low academic status.

....

Continued to pursue craft work part-time.

...

Uncertain about continuing as an academic and still attracted to craft.

Relationship was going well; renovating a house and trying to start a family.

...

...

 

Post-PhD

Year 8

...

Secured a permanent academic position at the university.

...

 

What struck us

Work-life balance.

Relationships and location.

Research funding and publications.

Taking on management responsibilities.

Job security and strategic career planning.

Commitment to academia.

your

Story

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