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Nick - advice
Name: Nick
PhD discipline: English Literature
Area(s) of work: civil service; tax consultant; accountancy; film and fiction writing, university teaching
Year of graduation: 1995
Date of Interview: 29/05/2008

Now Playing: Nick - advice
Nick suggests ways to get known in academia and the wider world of higher education.

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If you were to give advice to anybody who's thinking of going into academia, what would it be? 

Well you've got to think outside your PhD, you focus on your PhD. Always look for the opportunity – always look for the opportunity to say 'that's not entirely relevant to my PhD but can it be turned into a paper' because invariably it can. My first published piece is nowhere near my PhD, it's just something that I stumbled upon in the library but I took notes anyway, I kept it in my little book and then I sat down one day and I wrote it up in 5000 words. And what it shows is just because you've got your PhD you've actually got a much wider idea of the world out there.

Also – and this is really quite important as well – engage in things. Engage in everything from the Guardian Education Supplement, something – I was a precocious undergraduate, when somebody wrote an article I wrote a letter to the Guardian about saying something – it wasn't Wordsworth who wrote that line it was in Blake's 'Songs of Innocence and Experience' and I wrote this very naughty letter to the Guardian that says 'in my institution all my undergraduates know that to be – know that Blake wrote Songs of Innocence and of Experience'. It was a really naughty thing to do but you just never know how you're going to get into your debate - make yourself available to the Independent newspaper. The Independent newspaper, somebody does an article in exactly my field. Write to the person, write to the journalist concerned. Get the journalist to interview you. Spread yourself wide because the world of academia is a tiny pebble on the Brighton Beach and there's millions of pebbles on the beach. And you have to spread yourself, you have to spread yourself. You have to do other the things you have to be seen to be doing other things. It's really, really crucial I think.

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