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Katie - advice
Name: Katie
PhD discipline: History
Area(s) of work: HR; primary school teaching; full-time mother; freelance writer
Year of graduation: 1999
Date of Interview: 23/06/2008

Now Playing: Katie - advice
Katie reflects on the value of her PhD, and the difficulties of envisaging work beyond the academic environment.

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How would you advise somebody who wasn't sure they wanted to pursue an academic career after their PhD?

I think firstly it's important for everybody who does a PhD to value it for its self though, yes, if you want an academic career, you need to have gone through that and do that, but it is of value in itself, the experience, the growth that you get and that satisfaction that you get, being able to produce this original piece of research is something to value in its own right and so they should value it in its own right before they even start thinking about anything else. And then I think it's very hard to make a decision about what you want to do, about whether you want an academic career or not, if you've only ever been in an academic environment, because even if and when you're thinking about going out into the wide-world of work and reading about these corporate companies and the corporate world and these careers that you could have, it's very different from actually experiencing and being in one of those organisations and even put a couple of years in because it's very different from when you first go in, and your learning and your being invested in and it's all very new and exciting, to when you've done it for five years and you've done that commute for five years and you've been in, this one tiny cog in this huge wheel for five years. Oh we're going off on a tangent a bit, erm, it's hard to be able to envisage what that is like when you've only been in the academic world, so I think, getting out for a bit and just seeing whether it suits you, whether it fits you, is actually a good thing anyway erm and not to be scared that you are unemployable, that it's made you unsuitable.

How did you identify HR as a possible career path?

I think it was starting by looking at what I was enjoying currently, so of the doctorate, I was enjoying the teaching, the developing people, ensuring that someone could become better, and bringing out their potential. And those were the things that excited me about doing the teaching and the doctorate side, erm just for myself, I liked the idea of trying to become better, and how do I learn, and those were the things that obviously were elements of HR, about developing people, and getting the best out of them and fulfilling potential, and enhancing that potential. So for me there was a direct link for what I was enjoying and where could I find that out in the corporate world and those kinds of things. 

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