Hi, I am Liz!
When I asked my supervisor if she’d mind me accepting an offer to contribute to University Affairs’ new Careers Café blog, she said, “I love University Affairs! Just make sure you mention where you work!”
So, I work at the University of Waterloo’s Centre for Career Action. I’m the staff career advisor there, which means that I work with postdocs and non-faculty university employees on their career and employment goals. The people I meet with are often concerned with big issues, like how to shape their careers to feel as meaningful as possible, and how to determine whether or not they’re interested in career options they haven’t tried yet.
They’re also dealing with concrete concerns, like where to direct limited time and energy for professional development, how to navigate hiring systems, and how to fit networking into a full work schedule. Postdocs may face additional challenges, such as feeling peripheral to the university, having few contacts outside their research institution and, often for international students, tackling the job search with little Canadian work experience. While there are rarely easy answers to complex problems, the UA team of bloggers will offer strategies for dealing with these and other issues.
My own career within the university system has had a few issues of its own. When I started my PhD in English literature, I was sure I would become a professor. Two years into my degree, I learned that 12-hour days with my computer were less satisfying to me than I had previously imagined. The decision to leave academia was easy — but only in retrospect. During the two years it took me to make the decision and to reconcile myself to it, I wrestled with competing advice, my worries about “wasting” my education, and my own lack of knowledge of the world of work outside of scholarship.
I see clients working through the same and more complex struggles. The literature available to support them often assumes that readers are making a career change entirely out of choice, that they are focused entirely on the for-profit world, and that they will benefit from viewing themselves as products.
The Career Sense blog was such a welcome change from those assumptions, and this new blog, with its range of contributors, will continue to present an alternative that responds to the needs of people transitioning from or working within universities. Careers Café also has the flexibility to be very responsive to your needs.
So, if you have questions, areas of curiosity, or concerns, feel free to mention them. If there’s a topic related to postdoc or non-faculty university staff you’d like to see covered in a blog, but you prefer not to post a comment on the University Affairs site, please also feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
While I won’t be able to provide individual advice via email, I would be happy to address your concerns in a blog posting.