The early career phase is a fragile, precarious time in the life of an academic. I am talking specifically about the second half of the PhD period through a postdoc period, up to and including the start of an assistant professorship. It has been said many times that those who consider to opt out of the academic system are more often than not the most talented researchers rather than ‘misfits’ or those who after all appear to lack the ability (e.g. 3 myths about leaving the academy). What, then, causes these talented researchers, who appear to be doing great, to consider quitting academia? Read more
Prof. Lou de Leij and dr. Marjan Koopmans initiated the PhD discourse on the Dutch science news- and blog-site scienceguide.nl. In their contribution Dr. Ingeborg Meijer and dr. Inge van der Weijden ask about the world in which PhD candidates are working and living. I think this is a very good question to ask. I am glad to take their line of thinking a few steps further in this reflection.
We want a PhD degree to guarantee Read more
Side by side I walk with Maureen over a carpet of yellow and brown leaves on one of the last sunny autumn days. She is doing well in her academic career. After a postdoc at a renowned university abroad she found a promising research job closer to home. Her publications are coming round nicely and she is positioned very well for the next major grant that will help her establish her own research line.
Yet she struggles. As if she is confessing a weakness she tells me: Read more
It has been 1,5 years since Dane successfully got his PhD. Seen on the surface, he appears to be doing great. He has several short term teaching positions and is even creating some consulting business directly from his PhD research. This is quite remarkable, because direct valorization of research is quite rare for a PhD in the Humanities. His former supervisor is confident that his career will turn out allright. The university is happy because Dane’s official status is ‘employed’.
But Dane is not happy with his situation at all. Read more
Scylla and Charibdis for academic leadership:
Why successful academics need breaks to be able to communicate with radical candor.
Have you ever relied on to-do lists in an attempt to work effectively? Most academics have experimented with a wide variety of to-do lists, nifty apps, or old fashioned paper and pencil notes. Besides that, almost all have lists that they keep in the back of their minds.
If you are like most academics, you have probably experienced the frustration of a to-do list that is growing longer rather than shorter as time passes. And if you are like me, this tempts you to work even harder, ignoring your tense shoulders and tired brain. Read more
In our first talk, many academics warn me that they are rather autonomous. Intractable and self-willed, a.k.a. notoriously headstrong. They are not beside the point. Also HR managers, career advisors at universities, my coaching colleagues in other industries often wonder out loud whether my academic clients aren’t difficult to coach. Read more
I get it: you are smart. You got a PhD. You landed a tenure track position or even tenure — although you suspect that was due to luck more than intellectual merit. Anyway, from the outside your life look perfectly successful. You have a wonderful partner, your children are doing great, and your academic career is well underway towards professorship. How come your life does not feel so fabulous on the inside? Why do you feel so lonely? Why do you feel different and not understood? Read more
Many academics worry whether they ‘have it in them’ to succeed in academia. Consider Alise. Five years ago she completed her PhD. Her supervisor and colleagues in the field where enthusiastic about her talent for research and the chapters of her thesis have all been published in well-ranked journals.
Alise felt confident and gladly accepted a postdoc abroad. This turned out to be a jumping board for a tenure track position closer to home. She has now been working there for several years, but her confidence and enthusiasm are waning. Read more