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Joanne - career building during the PhD
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Name: Joanne
PhD discipline: History
Area(s) of work: Publishing
Year of graduation: 2002
Date of Interview: 18/06/2008

Now Playing: Joanne - career building during the PhD
Joanne recalls her attitude to career planning during her PhD and considers how she might have done things differently.

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When in your PhD did you start to think about what you were going to do next and thinking about what preparation you might need to do for what was to come?

(laughter)

Gosh. I think I knew probably by my third year that I wasn't going to work in academia and I very much think by then I was very much fed up with it and being you know a very gruelling experience I kind of wasn't enjoying it at all really. I still had, it kind of wasn't going anywhere still by my third year, I still had lots of it to write. I'd done all of the research I just had to write it but, you know, I felt like 'I can't do it, I can't write a PhD'. So, and I suppose I kind of always had academic publishing in the back of my mind and I suppose I thought I would do something there but I think I was still at that point very much 'I've got to get over doing this PhD' and I don't think I particularly had any particular kind of forward planning at that stage. It still felt like I was going to be doing my PhD forever and I was never going to be finishing it so once I'd submitted it, I submitted it in the September then my viva was in the November, so once I'd submitted it in the September I got a temping job and it was, but I still was, I didn't know how the viva was going to go. So I still thought, well I still could be working on my PhD and I definitely thought 'well, if I've got to do any kind of major revisions I definitely want to do them because I've spent four years doing this PhD, you know I want to come out with something at the end'. So by the time I got my viva and it was ok and I'd got through so I thought 'well, I'm not going to have to spend six months working on this anymore'. I kind of did vaguely think at that point, at that massively late point, 'oh well maybe I could be an academic', which is crazy, crazy but you know I wish someone had sat me down and said at the start, 'you're going to need to think about these things, now you've got four years, four years to like build your career, build your reputation', and I could have done loads then but I didn't think of it, a bit foolish. 

You say you didn't actively pursue any career building strategies when you were doing your PhD but in hindsight do you think it might have been helpful?

Yeah, definitely, I think if you'd had some kind of mentor, I mean my boyfriend's doing, he's just, he's going to start his PhD in September, and where he's doing his PhD I think it sounds great. He's, as well as completing his PhD, he's got to do kinds of value-added stuff so he gets certain points or, I don't know how they work it but he gets extra accreditation if he's done, given papers or attended conferences, or I don't know arranged his own conference, or taught so it's all built-in that he has to so some of these things. I wish I'd had more of a sense of how do I build, what does my PhD mean for building a career in academia and how can I, you know, it's not just about the PhD at all, that you have to do this other stuff. I think it sounds really nice that you're forced to think about your PhD in that kind of career-building way and I think that would have been really useful for me to have that built-in where I was sort of made to do those things.

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