HOW TO BUILD AN ACADEMIC CAREER?Insights from the transatlantic IMISCOE PhD Summer School 2016, Princeton University

This year I had the great opportunity to attend the first transatlantic IMISCOE PhD Summer school, organised by IMISCOE and Princeton University, which took place between 7th -13th of August 2016. One of the sessions was held as a discussion with Professor Marco Martiniello (see link), and Professor Maurice Crul (see link) on the topic of the academic career. The discussion started with the advises provided from their own experience of academic path, and this blog post is meant to share some of them.

imiscoePhoto by C. Carmen Draghici: PhD summer school, Princeton University, Wallace building

So, what are the steps to take, or the rules to follow for as successful career? There is no miracle solution or perfect way to achieve an academic career! But here are the main ideas that you should take into account when building an academic career that the two professors shared with the PhD students during summer school:

  1. Originality : think of your own project « What do I want to be seen by others as an expert? »
  2. Networking : keep in touch with academic circles, where you can hear about job opportunities
  3. Have something to say in the public domain (e.g : migration is a societal aspect)
  4. Be hard-working
  5. Take advantage of opportunities when they arise
  6. Be socially and politically committed (try to change something in this world)

Ans some other tips:

  • Accept job positions even if they don’t fit at 100% with your research topic and interests (you need to pay your rent!)
  • Not always do what people tell you to do, follow your own ideas and projects
  • Develop your own line of research
  • Trust your supervisor, but not at 100% (it’s your thesis!)
  • Be aware of your responsibility – work also for the people where you live
  • Make personal choices : big or small university, permanent or temporary position, different locations etc
  • Take into account side projects
  • Quitting is not an option!
  • Don’t be satisfied, always look for new challenges, new projects! Be enthusiast!
  • PhD is a resource  also outside academia (e.g.: ONG)

Now that you have secrets revealed, good luck in finding the ideal job in the academia!


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