Reflections on my first year in my ‘proper academic’ role.

Without even realising it, the other day was the one year anniversary of starting this lecturer job. Given that it is at the same university, in the same faculty, and continuing many of the same projects as in my postdoc position, it admittedly was a fairly simple transition into this new role. At the same time, while some things aren’t that different, others definitely are.

At first I was in a rush to propel myself towards the next stage: a promotion to senior lecturer. I contacted anyone I could think of to get involved in more teaching, start collaborating on new projects, and see what committees I could join. Of course, the more you offer to be involved in things, the more people invite you to be involved in things. I also agreed to take on 6 (!!) students and hired a new research assistant. The students and RA are great and I love helping them learn; however, it is a big jump from zero to seven supervisees (and learning how to supervise people well is no small task – a post for another time). In short, I took on too much. About a month in, my supervisor wisely reminded me that ‘it’s a marathon not a sprint’, but unfortunately this really only sank in about 2-3 months ago after I became ‘that person’ who started ignoring emails and falling behind on deadlines. As someone who used to judge ‘that person’, I now finally understand.

In my postdoc position, although I was employed by the university, I was based full time at the drug and alcohol clinic where the majority of my projects are based. I still work there most days. However, I decided it is important for me to be closer to campus more often, so I ended up also getting a desk in my department. As an introvert I’ve found it hard to put myself out there and start to get to know the department people (especially as I’m only there 1-2 days a week). Sometimes I wondered whether I should even bother and just go back to my comfort zone at the clinic full time. Only in the last month or so have I started to find my feet in this office (and people are remembering I exist) and I’m really enjoying the new faces and ideas. In both places however, open-plan offices still suck.

Research-wise, it is great to start to have more independence rather than work on other people’s projects (because they have funding and can pay me). However, this of course means I now need to find money to pay for the projects I want to do. So besides all the tasks I should have said no to, I’ve been madly applying for funding. Happily, I did get some seed funding for some exciting pilot projects. However, at the end of last year I was extremely unsuccessful for one of the big grants I applied for (as in, the scores were BAD). It’s so hard not to take these rejections personally and it did put me off applying for other big grants for a while. Encouragement from others (and the increasing openness of people admitting their failures) helped me get back on the horse.

Somewhere in all that busyness I stopped reading and writing papers. I’m now trying to be more intentional and have initiated a weekly ‘shut up and write’ group so myself and other like-minded people can carve out some time to get back on track and keep each other accountable. It has been really useful – especially for progressing this one paper I’m super over and never want to see again (surely other people have hate-papers as well?).

So: a year. I’ve definitely learned plenty, but certainly don’t have it all figured out just yet. Despite all the overwork though (trying to have a life amongst all of that is another post in itself), this has been my happiest year of work yet.

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A few things I’ve written elsewhere.

Here are some relevant blog posts / articles that I’ve written or contributed to for other outlets:

I’d be interested to know your thoughts on these. I’m also happy to take requests on things people would be interested in seeing me write about.