Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Relaunching the Early Career Blog!

Dr Steve Joy

We are delighted to relaunch the Early Career Blog – with new articles and a team of new contributors! The blog has been viewed 69,002 times by readers from five continents in the space of just 4½ years. But until now, it has always had just the one author, which means, apart from anything else, that my extended spells out of the country have led to several periods of total inactivity. From today, that’s set to change: the blog is being relaunched by a team of contributors from the universities of Cambridge and Oxford – and I’ll still be here too, contributing the odd post. The team is made up of careers advisers and researcher development professionals, all experts. In fact, if you tot up our combined experience of advising PhD students and postdocs, it exceeds 45 years, so we have a decent evidence base to work from.

As we make this exciting transition, I hope you’ll indulge me if I take a moment to reflect on how the blog came about, and what its ambitions are for the future.

When I started the blog, back in the summer of 2013, the motivation was twofold. First, I wanted to capture the common conversations I was having with early career academics: their most frequently asked questions about academic applications and career development, and the corresponding advice that I found most reliable. Much of what I wrote was based on hundreds of hours of one-to-one work with researchers at Cambridge, buttressed and bolstered all the while by generously given, informal guidance from colleagues at other universities. My sense was that if I could present the best of this advice to people before they came in for their careers appointments, it would allow us to make better use of time.

The second motivation was broader. If I was having these conversations over and again, then others must surely have been having them, too. As time went on, and I fielded queries from blog readers and met many more researchers at conferences, it became clear that these conversations were happening across the board. But the truth is, it’s not realistic for all universities to offer bespoke careers advice for early career academics, and not everyone who might benefit from such advice can access it easily. Of the generic advice to be found in career manuals and on recruitment websites, much is often woefully unsuitable for the academic job hunt. What the blog was always intended to be, therefore, was an open-access resource for any early career academic who wanted to read it – whatever their subject or career stage, wherever they were reading.

Looking to the future, as I hand over the curation of the blog to a broad team of expert colleagues, it seems to me that those remain the two core ambitions: capture the advice that we trust the most based on our work with real-life researchers, and share that advice as widely as possible. In the coming months, the first of the new raft of articles will be published on topics such as non-academic employers' perspectives on researchers; a series on resilience; and planning an academic career. And you can suggest topics for future posts that you would like to see – just tweet @EarlyCareerBlog. We hope you continue to find the blog valuable. Thanks for reading!

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