Self Reflection Tips: Is Academia the Right Career for you?
If you have been following your academic aspirations for a while, you would already know that this particular vocation is definitely not for the weak-hearted. A lot of people end up in academic careers because they love the subjects that they choose to study. This also enables them to carry on with their own research programs that could help many and create a positive change in terms of lifestyle, education, ethics, food habits and so much more.
But all noble goals need to be given a proper platform to grow and become sustainable. This is where the challenges arrive, and after a point it just gets hard to move ahead. If you are an aspiring candidate who is waiting for his turn to acquire a teaching position, remember that it will definitely be a long wait. A lot of students become very impatient and leave their current field and immerse themselves in other fast-paying jobs. Academic growth will take time, and even then there will be very little chance of complete success.
This is why it is important to sit and reflect on why you want to follow this path. What gives you ultimate satisfaction when it comes to academics? Do you find yourself led by unrealistic dreams and are you a hopeless optimist? Or are you a realist who is aware of the pros and cons of your decision to be with the academia, and are ready to face any hurdles that come across your path? You need to ask yourself some questions that would help you to face your reality:
- What is your motivation, and why do you want to continue with academics?
Before you decide to invest more time in your research and higher studies, make sure that your motivation comes from a basic satisfaction and happiness rooted in your everyday accomplishments instead of unrealistic daydreams. A lot of researchers feel alive when they are in a class full of students, talking about books and latest events that are revolutionizing human lives in little and big ways. If this is where you can derive your sense of achievement from, you are meant to be in academia no matter what.
- Can you work under regulations?
If you think that teaching in the class would be very inspiring and creative, you will sometimes be disappointed. Class syllabi and courses are more regulated these days and you will have to often get approvals from the committees if you want to deviate from the usual plan. So even if you are not happy about teaching some materials that you do not approve of , you cannot just decide not to do them.
- Are you ready to face the pressure?
Teaching a class while carrying with your own research project is not a very easy task. You will have double the responsibilities, which will also include the efforts you have to expend to write and publish more in order to further your scholarly achievements. If you are not ready to work under the pressure, your lack of confidence will show when you apply for a certain job. This will not be very helpful to you.
- Are you willing to consider non-academic posts?
A lot of Ph.D candidates feel guilty if they work outside of academic streams. Reality is more fruitful if you decide not to battle against numerous candidates with skills perhaps as good as yours for the same job. There are a lot of companies out there which are very respectful towards potential employees who have such high degrees. They even offer a pay that is better than universities. You could consider carrying your research under their wings too.
If you realize that your main goal is to make something noticeable by working in an academic position, then you have to start building a very effective network of contacts. You need to know people and the kind of work they do. More importantly, they must know who you are and what your research area entails. They can give your career advice, and some of them might even be willing to take a chance on you. Resilience and high confidence is extremely necessary to push on in academics so as to successfully make your mark.