So the postdoc is done, and miraculously you’re still pulling a wage as a researcher, this is where this week’s two researchers find themselves. During the postdoc period it is time to try and establish oneself as an independent researcher, with an identifiable area of expertise and a research profile beyond the group with which you trained.
Jim Elliott completed his PhD 9 years ago in Queensland, Australia and is now Assistant Professor at Northwestern University in Chicago, Steve Kamper finished his PhD in 2011 at University of Sydney and has a position as Senior Research Fellow at the George Institute.
5 best things
5 worst things
5 best things
I’m not bound to clocking up hours in any particular activity, I’m assessed on my output not where I am at any particular time or day. So it’s up to me to decide when and on what I work.
I love to travel; spending time in other countries, checking out the culture and getting to know how things work in different places.
The nature of the job means that whether I’m at work in Sydney, visiting other researchers, attending conferences of traveling I’m always interacting with smart people, driven by a desire to do something good. I don’t come across people who say being a researcher is; ‘just a job’.
This is pretty unusual I reckon, my position means that I can decide which direction I want to take my research and my career.
I really believe that what I do can make a difference, if I do it well and make the right decisions along the way.
5 worst things
The hours are long, I firmly believe that success in this line of work won’t come without hard work and lots of it. I’m definitely not clever enough to get by on natural talent alone!
I think this is the price of a job that involves a lot of thinking about stuff. Questions and tasks don’t magically get resolved at the end of the work day, pretty often they follow me home too.
My employment term runs from one contract to the next. If I’m successful with a fellowship application, I might have 4 years or so of stability, but beyond that I don’t know where, or if I’ll have a job.
Ongoing success depends on continual output, levels of output high enough to stay in the game necessitate being involved in a large number of projects and constantly developing ideas and plans. Trying to keep on top of everything is difficult, and gets overwhelming at times.
To maintain funding, whether for projects or for salary, I need to perform at the top of the class. My CV, and my achievements are constantly being measured against other researchers, including those I know and work with. This means there is a constant pressure to perform and be the best.
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