Transitions session 1 – “Starting the journey”

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When I last wrote, I was contemplating a new career away from academia and I was hoping Newcastle University’s “Transitions” programme would help me to achieve this. I was feeling frustrated with science and wanted to move nearer to my family in Yorkshire, but didn’t know what career paths were open to me. Well, the first “Transitions” session was today, and I am pleased to say I am feeling more positive about my future career choices already!

The session consisted largely of getting to know the other group members, their reasons for joining the programme, and the issues affecting them. We found we had a lot of common ground, particularly when it came to the tribulations of working in academia (for a while, we resembled a support group for disillusioned scientists!).

Despite our various gripes, most of the group were reluctant to leave academia but felt they had no choice. Instability, lack of funding opportunities and long hours were the most commonly cited reasons for wanting (or needing) to move on. Others were unhappy in academia and were looking to make better use of their skills, or to find something more suited to their tastes.

In today’s session, we were encouraged to think about our motivations for working and the values that matter to us in the workplace. While you might think these answers should be obvious, I was surprised to find that I had lost sight of what really mattered to me, making the exercise remarkably difficult. When I finally succeeded, there were one or two revelations.

I hadn’t realised before now that I could never be happy in a job that I did not fit my core values, no matter how much I enjoyed the day-to-day tasks and working environment. I wish had realised this sooner, because I have made poor career decisions recently by assuming that a job which violates my core values could be redeemed by factors like good pay and career prospects. I know now that it can’t, and I will be sure to vet any future openings for adherence to those values before considering them.

The next session is in two weeks’ time, and if it is as useful as this one, it can’t come too soon.

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