This week I have a minor victory to celebrate among all the news of economic doom and gloom, I am officially no longer in my probationary period. I had a long (nearly two-and-a-half-hours long) meeting with my head of department who tells me that all is going well and I have passed through my probationary period with flying colours. Thank goodness for that! But the question now pops in to my head: well OK then, but what next?
First I have to say how lucky I feel right now. I have realised that there aren’t many jobs out there in my field at the moment and so if I was still on the job market I’d be getting really despondent by now. And according to an article in the Chronicle this week, fewer and fewer institutions are hiring in the US as well. In really difficult times when cuts have to be made it seems that part-time and temporary tutors are the first to suffer too, so it must be a really difficult time for all of you who are in that position.
Having said that though, it would be wrong of me to sit back and relax just because I have got myself into a slightly more secure position. It’s never too early to start long term career planning, as my head of department said to me this week. I find it quite easy to imagine where I want to be in 2, 3 or 4 years time and how I want my career to develop in the short term, but how about in 10, 20 or 30 years time? I received some great advice on how to start thinking about these sorts of long term goals. Try to decide what sort of academic you want to be. At senior level there are two main sorts, those whose research record is exemplary and those who rise up through the ranks by taking on managerial roles.
To some extent it’s important to keep ‘an iron in both fires’ as the saying goes: keep both options open. But at some point you will have to make a decision. I am not there yet, but the fact that the question has been raised for future discussion is a good thing. So, while it’s good to focus on the next step up the career ladder, spare a thought sometimes for the bigger picture. Imagine the sort of academic you want to be at the end of your career; you never know, it just might happen!