Posted in Professional development and Identity, Recap, The job search

Recap: #ECRChat careers outside of academia – Thursday August 2nd 2012

This week’s #ECRChat was hosted by Dr Sarah-Louise Quinnell. Sarah is currently the E-Learning research project lead at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists in London. Here is her take on this week’s chat, discussing careers outside of academia.

Wow, all I can say is wow! I volunteered to host this #ECRchat topic because it was a topic very close to my heart. I expected to be a career academic when I finished my PhD and after I found it very very hard to get an academic position. I was very disillusioned and wondered what I was going to end up doing. I then went into what they call ‘professional services’ so the administrative / management side of the University world for a short term contract and then found myself back at square one.

I applied for a job outside of academia having done a lot of consultancy and thought why not. I also applied for two academic positions. I was interviewed for all three and offered the one at CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy) which is a professional body supporting the education and professional development of Physiotherapists across the UK. I’ve been in post four weeks and I absolutely love it. I am leading a research project looking at how e-learning can be introduced to support members professional development needs. This is applied research, which will lead to the development of a strategy, it will influence policy, it will see me engaging with a range of different sectors. It will produce reports and academic papers and will make a difference, something I always wanted to do.

I fell out of HE by accident but now I am out and proud so to speak and will blog more about that in other contexts. The chat on Thursday went mad, we even trended in the UK something that a digital researcher like myself is extremely proud of. The chat on Thursday brought up some fascinating issues as you can see in the storify Katie completed, or in the complete archive of tweets (#ECRchat_tweets_2012_08_02). Only 1 in 10 post docs will stay in academia and run their own labs (for the scientists amongst you). For the rest of us things are even harder. It is not selling out, or settling or failure that pushes people out of HE it wanting to have a meaningful career. There is a lot post docs can offer the world of applied research outside of academia. Our skills are unique and in high demand we just need to learn to sell ourselves.

The thing I realise that we need to work on from this chat is removing the stigma attached with moving out of HE. I am doing more research than I was before. I have more autonomy and responsibility, I have more freedom to lead and develop this project as I see fit. The skills I am developing here will make me a better academic, if I choose to go back (that is my plan) I am also getting to know myself better and develop embrace the different experience of working outside academia.

I look forward to coming back to this issue so lets put our head together to see how we think we can nullify this stigma!

Enjoy next weeks chat, lets make it trend again and don’t forget to join us on the wiki.


#ECRchat will be back at the same time next week with your host Prof. Pat Thomson. That’s 11:00-12:00 in the UK (BST), 12:00-13:00 in Europe (CEST), and 20:00-21:00 in Australia (EST), on Thursday 9th August. VOTE NOW!


Neurodiverse Lecturer & Deputy Director EDI @UCLSTEaPP. All views are my own. She / Her.

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