I’ve often figured that, given my education, I should be able to sort things out on my own. That I should know – just, instinctively, know – how to do funding applications and CVs, and all the other things one should be able to produce as an aspiring academic. So I’ve refused, in the past, to buy those ‘How to do…’ advice books. I’ve always, slightly unfairly, placed them in the same category as books which tell you How to Meet Your Angel.
But there comes a point where you need some guidance – where your pride has to take a hit if you are to move away from something which is rather a little Heath Robinson, to something rather more professional. So, the other day, I found myself on PubEasy in my shop, ordering myself a copy of Aldridge and Derrington’s Research Funding Toolkit.
I’ve started reading through it, and working through the exercises they offer. And whilst I’m not very far into it, I think I can safely say that this book is The Boss. It’s sensible in its advice, and, best of all, it doesn’t patronize – which is something I dreadfully feared. The introduction lays out the best chapters for achieving particular goals, and the chapters themselves all offer a clearly defined ‘How to’. The goals are measurable, pragmatic, and each chapter also offers one or two ‘Tools’ with which you can improve what you have to increase your chances of securing funding – it could, in the case of the CV builder, even help you get a job.
It’s not going to solve all my problems – not in any way. But it might help me work towards some targets. It might give me the push in the direction I need. And there’s certainly something to be said for realizing you need that push, and either asking for help, or seeking it out somewhere yourself. Spend time doing this – it is so worthwhile. If there’s anything the last two years have taught me, it’s that too much pride isolates you, and loses you opportunities.
Be self-aware. Know your skills, but also your flaws. And whilst you are an individual, you are an individual amongst many others, who may also be experiencing the same issues. So just, please, reach out.