On September 26, 2008, we launched Career Sense as a conversation, or as a forum among academics across Canada about professional issues unique to them. For University Affairs, Career Sense was an experiment of sorts. Online technologies have provided a valuable way for a community with shared interests to come together and share their thoughts. Career Sense was to be one such resource.
Indeed, over the past 19 months or so some good conversations have emerged through reader comments. For instance the open forum on reference letters and the discussion on making the best of a dismal job market each generated some interesting, and sometimes contentious comments. The post which was e-mailed out most often was my open letter to John Milloy, the Minister of Training Colleges, and Universities. And 407 people responded to polls about various topics in the posts.
However, more times than not, the blog didn’t get the degree of participation that would have created the conversation it was intended to generate. I discussed the general lack of reader response with a colleague of mine who writes for The Chronicle, where readers more actively comment on posts and articles. She mused the perhaps the difference was “an offshoot of all our [American] town meetings, talk radio and Internet news – people are very engaged.” Hmm – maybe it is a cultural thing – Canadians might be more insular than Americans in this regard. Maybe it was the content of the blog itself – although the topics covered were so broad, that it would be difficult to isolate the variables there.
The reason why I had been excited by the prospect of the blog is because so many of the graduate students and junior faculty I have advised over the years share a sense of isolation, and trepidation that the issues and challenges they face are because there is something wrong with them. I was hoping Career Sense would help to dispel this myth somewhat. I also hoped that the shared love all of us in academe have for learning and knowledge could be reinforced and validated.
Perhaps then, a blog isn’t the best venue in Canada for academics to share their perspectives, insights and concerns with each other. I know that the folks at University Affairs are looking at the whole career resource section to consider how it can best serve the needs of the increasing, and diverse population of Canadian academics. In the meantime, this will be the final post for Career Sense.
As for me, I have been working with academics on career-related issues for over a decade. For the past five years or so I have been writing on these issues for University Affairs in articles, through the Dr. Jobs column and Career Sense. This is a conversation I am personally committed to both as an academic and as a professional career advisor. So in some other format or venue, I’m sure our paths will cross again in the future. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my dissertation.
Thank you for your support and participation in Career Sense. I hope you found it informative and it gave you a better understanding of what you are facing as an academic in Canada. Until next time, be well.