I’ve hit a turning point recently, a bend in the road I suppose. I’ve had a gut feeling for over month now that I might be on the wrong path for my long term future career-wise. Something just didn’t feel right anymore. So I have outlined what I have been wrestling with in my mind in recent times.
A major benefit for me being on twitter has been reading tweeted articles and opinions about the academic profession in English speaking countries. It has been eye opening for me and has lead me through different phases of feeling ‘that won’t happen to me, I’ll be one of the few who ….’, to feeling outraged by the current state of employment in academia, to feeling depressed by it, to finally feeling an acceptance of it, a bit like ‘I can’t change the system, so I’ll have to work with it’.
From all the reading and questioning of people I have done in the past year I’ve come to the realisation and acceptance that my chances of ever getting a permanent position, or long term contract, in an Australian university in my long term future are slim to zero. Although as a family we are happy to go and live in the US for a few years we do not want to be there for several years due to the ages our children will be when I’m ready to do a PhD or Post Doctorate work (we have old friends whose family all broke apart due to this scenario and so we are wary of moving anywhere outside of SE Australia for the very long-term).
People have tweeted to me that I can get permanent positions outside of university teaching & research, for example museum work or administration in universities. But those roles hold no interest for me, especially admin. I did not start a 13 year journey of study in order to go back to admin work! It might be the right path for some people but it isn’t right for me. If I can’t get involved in Renaissance research or early modern European history teaching for my long term future then I don’t want to pursue a PhD in those areas. Yes, I know I will have transferable skills that I can use somewhere else but what I research is just as important to me, actually more so.
Another benefit of being on twitter has been connecting to news sources outside of Australia, getting a more global perspective on the world, albeit a western version of it. Since being on twitter I have always Favorited items (which saves them) in order to read them later when I have had a little spare time. Recently I started using Pocket, which I love, for the same function, though a much better way of doing it. The interesting part of doing all of this has been seeing a pattern emerge of what articles really interest me enough to save to Pocket and, more importantly, which ones I enjoy reading the most and want to learn more about.
This has lead me to a realisation in recent times that maybe I need to create a bend in my road.
After much deliberation I have decided (unless you can think of a reason….) to not pursue post grad studies in the Italian Renaissance. I know this sounds rather premature as I still have 3 years or more left of part time undergraduate studies but my decision affects what units I take from here on. I have just enough units left to add another major on top of my History major and will, therefore, not continue with my Italian studies and planned Latin studies.
As you’ve probably noticed from my tweets I have a real interest in global politics and the global economy and I feel this is the path I want to pursue. I feel that if I pursue this path in post grad studies, whether or not I end up with a PhD, I think I’m more likely to get career opportunities in Australia. Even if I don’t have the good fortune to land an academic position in the future I think other great opportunities would be available in think-tanks, NGOs or even in government. Therefore I will undertake a second major in Politics. Let me make this clear in case you are jumping to conclusions – I don’t ever want to become a politician!!
In saying all this so openly I feel vulnerable and a little silly but I really want to do some good in the world, I’ve felt a strong gut feeling for years now that I need to be somehow educating the public as well as researching areas of great interest to me. Everyone can play a small part in making the world a better place and I feel mine is in these kind of roles, I hope.
I will always love reading and learning about the Renaissance and Reformation periods but I don’t see how I can incorporate that love into a career in this country, or any country for that matter. I’m still somewhat of an idealist and I’ve discovered over the last 5 years or so how ambitious I am. Maybe over the next few years I’ll discover just how difficult it will be in the global politics arena but I’m prepared to go on a journey of discovery and see where it takes me.
I would really appreciate your thoughts on this if you’ve been so kind enough to read it. I love it when people open my eyes to new ideas, or share experiences and knowledge.
I hope I’ve articulated well what I have been deliberating over recently, but as my baby brain is particularly bad third time round I can’t actually tell! Fortunately that should improve remarkably now that my baby has reached 4 months, and sleeps well, and now that my life has become suddenly less hectic.