Recently I have been thinking and talking a lot about how difficult it can be to move on from life as a PhD student. I have found some aspects of this transition very difficult, as I have written about previously. It seems that a lot of people who have made their way on to my blog have also experienced a loss of confidence or direction; towards the end of their PhD, during the period after thesis submission, or as they move into (or search for) a new job. Therefore I would like to list a few of the articles and resources that I have recently found helpful; some for very specific advice, and some for more general support. I have picked out an article from each site, but all of these sites offer a wealth of other useful and interesting information.
“Charting a Course for a Successful Research Career” by BiggerBrains
This academic career planning guide covers lots of useful topics, such as ‘selecting a mentor’, ‘applying for fellowships’, and ‘collaboration’. I’ve only read bits and pieces so far, but I’m going to put it on my kindle for bedtime reading.
N.b. I will report back whether this results in positive optimistic dreams of a glowing research career, or nightmares of disappearing job prospects.
“How to write your academic CV (and how not to)” by 3 Month Thesis
This could well be the best CV advice I have read so far (please let me know if you’ve read better). It really helped to put me in the place of the recruiter and think about what they are looking for in a CV. I will definitely be using these tips in my next application.
“The importance of doing your homework” by Prof. Pat Thomson
Assuming you have written an amazing CV (perhaps using the tips above), you may be invited for an interview. I have recently tweeted about this post, and I think it’s worth sharing again, because it’s so valuable to hear about the academic interview process from the person giving the interview. The motto: Know your prospective employer.
“Something Scary” by Prof-like Substance
This is a great, and reassuring post about the pressure of moving on from your PhD or postdoc supervisors’ research interests and coming up with your own big idea. (Thanks to Annelies for leading me to this one.)
“Help! I Have To Write A Grant Application” by The Research Whisperer [apologies for originally mis-naming this link, The Thesis Whisperer is also an excellent resource!]
A major hurdle for anyone wanting to do research is to find the money to fund it, making grant applications a necessary part of most (all?) researchers’ lives at one time or another. The Research Whisperer offers some excellent advice on how to make it successfully through the grant application process.
“Why Academia May Not Be For You” by Online PhD
I haven’t had much chance to delve into this site yet, seeing as I just discovered it today (thanks to InBabyAttachMode), but from what I have seen so far, there are lots of resources here for post-PhD life, whether you are thinking about staying in or leaving academia.
If all of this advice so far is overwhelming, the next two suggestions are intended to offer a little more reassurance for those of us (including myself) who are feeling uncertain at the moment.
“Imposter Syndrome” by Scicurious
If you have ever looked around you and felt like somehow everyone else has got the hang of something that you haven’t, then you need to read this great post by Scicurious discussing ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
“A grey area” from Researcher Life: The early career researcher experience
There are lots of great posts and resources on the Researcher Life blog, but I picked out this post in particular because the time between finishing a PhD and starting a full-time job is somewhat of a grey area (and this is a common feeling, judging from the comments and mentions thread). Decisions need to be made about career direction, whether to relocate (this is a must-read), and a non-academic plan B (yes, I’m finally thinking about admitting this).
The final two posts revolve around my favourite new support network; Twitter. It has been especially difficult moving away from the two strongest support networks that I relied on during my PhD; my family, and my PhD-student-peers. Now that I have moved away, and my family and my PhD network are also spreading out across the globe, I like to keep in touch with them online. For this personal support network, I tend to use Facebook. However, in the absence of a strong support network in my new location (I’m sure it will come with time), I have found comfort in the global support network of Twitter.
“Great Twitter hashtags I am using as an early career academic” by Dr Anna Tarrant
This post offers a great collection of hashtags to help you find support on Twitter during the PhD and post-PhD phases, including #Acwri, a live chat for academic writing discussion, and #PhDchat, a live chat for PhD-related advice and support.
“#ECRchat: A twitter chat for early career researchers“
If you have been following me on twitter then you will probably already know that I have been involved in setting up a new live twitter chat for discussing academic career issues. If (even after reading all of these great resources) you still have questions, you can suggest them as topics for the live chat. You could try asking me, but I probably don’t know the answer, which is why I was so keen to reach out to others at a similar career stage and beyond, to help me figure out where I fit in, and what to do next.
I hope that some of the sites I have suggested will be useful to you. The list is by no means exhaustive, so please add your own suggestions in the comments below. Perhaps you have found some other (offline) ways of coping with this ‘grey area’, in which case, I would love to hear from you too.