Personal Reflections of "Moving Career Up Gear: Top Tips" by Martin Williams

As mentioned couple of days back on this blog and amazing TED talk of Nadia Jaber PhD training lacks career planning. Actually, career planning is at least in Finland a new thing and older academics  at our department think that it is nonsense: just graduate and end up somewhere from where you might end up to your dream job or stay there forever. I am a fan of study plans and I love searching for study options all around the globe. As I was surfing online, I discovered an incredible opportunity to study for LSE diploma online that might even count as the first year in the masters program. As I dig deeper, I found the article of Martin Williams: Moving Career Up  Gear: Top Tips published by Guardian.The article is some years old but I find the content timeless.

Picture is from Saltkaret that is near Vaasa, winter 2016, by Jan Gustafsson.

The Guardian: moving career up gear expert top tips offers amazing questions and advises for career path planning. Already the first point is in the heart of motivation. I would interpret it as why do you do what you do? The article asks what is the better job or career that you want. As an academic, I love why questions but also hate them because when you ask many times why, most likely you end up "I don't know" or "this does not make any sense". The latter is what my education dreams mostly face.

Yesterday, I called my mom and said that I want to do a diploma in international relations at LSE after graduation. My mom was of course supportive. Yet, I started to think why do I always want to learn more? For curiosity, love of learning and finding more people like me. Why I need an institution for it? I wish to have discussions with people that have been reading recently the same subject. My mom asked: And how are you going to get that discussion through online diploma? That's a good one. Why can't I just stick with researching economics and having discussions related to own research? Well, sadly my interests are more broad than what one person can specialize in research. I hope to research many areas of economics in the future and not only knowledge spillovers.

Martin Williams names scratch your career plan as second point. "This could be a plan to gain qualifications, get extra training, or stretch yourself on new projects." I liked updating the study plan, why haven't I done this? Or to be precise, I have always aimed for academic career: I chose Math for minor and went for one semester to Stanford. That costs a lot but gave more. The main question is: do I still have the same goal? At least it could be good to have work experience outside academia. Even though it does not help with academic career.

Number three: "Find your deal breakers". Again something that I have ignored. The example list includes: "challenge, location, flexibility, promotional opportunities and work-life balance". This actually reminds me of how happy I become when our department got the first international member. The biggest wish for a job is being able to use language skills. Now, I can use English and Italian in addition to the mother tongue. I have no words to describe how happy I am for this opportunity to bring my language learning hobby to work. 

Williams suggests also educating oneself and choosing the right training. "It's not just knowing more, it is often about thinking differently". Victoria Matthews advises to do your research properly: What do the employers want. These questions really seem worth an effort. Approximately half year ago, it became clear to me, where and how much I would need to publish for my dream university. This happened in department interview where external referees investigated all the departments. Other PhD students hadn't thought about where they aim. Additionally, I had enlightening discussion with the student counselor. The discussion resulted as a decision to take a minor or at least a course of university pedagogy. But should one have a plan b? Do you have plan b? 

I still want to store here some notes from the last points of Williams list:

  • Non-academical training is also good: "Reading, mentoring, online study, and short one day or evening courses, can all significantly boost you career prospects."
  • Lifelong learning is important for keeping the job, not only for getting a new job
  • How do the people think in your goal job? Start to think like them, interact!
  • Network for information: dear ask! "how did they get there?" and are there positions open. 


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