In April 2020 SPRITE+ launched an initiative to interview a sample of its participants about their careers, projects, and observations within and beyond the network. A year own, the Career Journey interviews provide an insighful view into the variety of ways one may end up working in digital TIPS , together with the insider view of the field.
Below we have collated some of the advice the interviewees have shared about what they wish they knew when they started, their recommendations, and the obstacles they had to overcome on their way.
It is good to listen to [criticism] when it makes sense, but it is also good just to try and make your own way.
You aren’t supposed to know everything and when something is unclear, always ask for more explanation. I wish I’d known how much people were bluffing in their answers or others pretending to know when they didn’t!
The importance of engaging actively with a good mentor. I have always had great mentors around me, but I wasted a lot of time being passive.
The importance of your support network and not letting someone else’s opinion of you become your reality. I suffered badly from imposter syndrome because I let my critics get the better of me.
I would recommend students to get involved with research activities as early as possible. Getting exposed to rigorous methodologies, reviewing and discussing academic papers, helping in writing a research article – all contribute to developing fundamental skills and generating evidence of research maturity and potential, which can help with being admitted to a doctorate program.
Be willing to learn from others, to be open to working in different areas to what you studied for your PhD topic, to develop and maintain relationships with academics who you trust and respect.
Never stop taking the opportunities to learn that come your way. This makes you more adaptable.
Follow your instinct, do what you find interesting, and hope for the best, and sometimes it works out.
As much as interdisciplinarity is encouraged, as a young academic starting out it is hard to make a name for yourself doing research that sits on boundaries between established disciplines. Everyone wants to see interdisciplinary research, but getting it done in practice is a different story altogether.
Progress in my career slowed considerably when I had a child, and more so still as a single parent.
Early roles in research are fixed-term, and there are difficulties with having a job that you want to do. When your current project is running out, you can end up applying for things just to fill that space. Being in a permanent role is not necessarily any easier because you get a huge other part to your role as a researcher, that you are not used to doing, like teaching, admin, and leadership roles.
Many times you would apply for a new job or a project, or submit a paper, and then it will get rejected. Having a healthy attitude [towards rejection] is very important. Early on, I had to accept that. I have been able to win some grants, lose some grants, publish some papers, not being able to publish some other work, but making sure that we take a healthy approach, and build a team of people.
Juggling work, health, and a growing family is a challenge and there is no denying it! Travelling extensively can take a toll. Flexible ways of working are now thankfully much more accepted.
Share your view and comments below.
Applications are open to individuals from academia and professional practice (non-academic) to attend an online sandpit on Digital Vulnerabilities in July 2021. Up to £160k of SPRITE+ funding will be made available to fund interdisciplinary projects.