So, you want a Master’s Degree?
So this post actually took me longer than expected. I can’t really say why but I think it would be safe to say I put more time into conevying my ideas.
There is so much choice as to what ‘type’ of masters to pick but more and more people especially from law backgrounds seem to be picking LLM’s. Anyway, this post is going to talk about the other options available apart from an LLM and get you to think about your:
A) reasons for doing a masters
B) how it will increase/decrease your employability
So – postgraduate degrees…how important is it these days?
The idea of doing a Masters degree is appealing at first, but looking at the larger picture, I wonder how relevant it is really in the world of work. I wonder how much thought people really put into deciding why they want to do an LLM. I am all for further study – those who know me well know I encourage it at every opportunity. Having said that, there is much to consider before embarking on it.
People do a Masters degree for various reasons. It’s important to know what yours is before you jump into it. Some do it to further their knowledge in a particular area – they want to be an expert in their field. This is actually what the masters is designed to do. Teach and cultivate your knowledge of a specific field.
Take law for example – These days, hardly will you look at an academic law profile or a Nigerian lawyers profile and not see those three letters – LLM. It’s almost mandatory. In the same way, most good firms in Nigeria would actively encourage you to pursue an LLM if you’re already practicing and don’t have one. It’s all about packaging. Remember me discussing this in some previous posts? Right- packaging. An LLM is something for the firm to boast about. It gives it an international dimension.
” Our expert in Finance also has an LLM from Oxford University and is very well versed (or ‘Sound’ as they say in Nigeria) in this area…”
All na packaging. On the one hand it boosts the firms profile and on the other it shows that you’re bringing something different to the table. Let me elaborate on what I mean.
In 2010, I did a LLM in International Economic and Trade law. A mouthful I know. Anyway, my modules included:
1. International Economic Law
2. International Trade Law
3. International Financial Law
4. International Commercial Arbitration
Now. They are indeed interesting modules – I learnt a great deal from them all. It boosted my confidence a bit more because I saw the LLM as an added advantage. If I was going to apply to a law firm, the personal statement section/ covering letter is the best opportunity to market yourself. Something along the lines of..
“…having studied these four demanding modules, this LLM has given me the opportunity to gain a better understanding of these relevant areas of law. As these areas are still developing in Nigeria, I believe I would be highly instrumental in boosting this law firms profile…”
Or something along those lines -:)
Anyway, whilst it’s all exciting and all, the truth is practically all LLM modules are theoretical based information. This means if I was to go and practice tomorrow, a large chunk of this newly acquired information wouldn’t be relevant in the court room. Thats not to say if I went to work for a finance or arbitration firm it wouldn’t be. It’s just about knowing how best the Masters degree will serve you.
Well as i said before, it depends on why you’re doing a masters in the first place. My personal reasons for doing it was because I wanted to broaden my knowledge. The PhD was always part of the larger picture so I knew that an LLM would be a pre-requisite to apply for it. All four modules had something different to offer – The ones which really had an impact however were International Trade Law and International Financial Law. The latter because it’s obviously directly relevant to my PhD at the moment. Secondly and unashamedly, I thought it would look good on my CV. So those are my reasons.
So, lets look at some of the other reasons for persuing a postgraduate course.
So you want to do a masters…?
1.Some people do a Master’s degree because they are still deciding what to do after their law degree. This is quite a popular. Common reasons include not wanting to to rush into law school…what if i don’t get a training contract? What if I don’t get a pupillage? Or, doing it if you’re still deciding whether law is still for you. Doing a masters for the reasons above isn’t a bad idea – almost everyone has a first degree these days so it can give you a bit of an edge over other applicants in the long run.
2.Some people do a master’s in a bid to make up for achieving a 2.2 in their undergrad. This is probably the most common reason of all. It’s perfectly legitimate though – you may have just missed out on that 2.1, but your final grade is your final grade. Not everyone will give you the opportunity to explain why you ended up with a 2.2. Some job description boxes will say ‘minimum requirement 2.1’. Others, may give you the opportunity to apply with a 2.2 and a masters. If you have mitigating circumstances for your 2.2 and excel in your masters, that could suffice. If you fall into this category, let me just say – the leap from undergrad to masters is big. You’re lecturers wont really be holding your hand. This is the start of independent study.
3.Others do a master’s because “its what everyone does these days right?” Now, I’m not so sure that this is a good enough reason. Doing a postgrad in any subject is not only costly, but extremely time consuming. If you’re doing it for that reason alone, maybe you need to figure out what your end goal is sooner rather than later.
4. Finally, some embark on a Masters because they simply enjoy reading. I was talking to someone about this yesterday who is a medical doctor. He has a first degree in Pharmacology and works as a GP. Now, on top all the plenty reading, he told me: ‘Fols, I’m thinking of doing a masters o.’ In my mind, i was like, huh? This is someone who spent the best part of 8 years studying (collectively) and not due to him failing or anything. I think he honestly just enjoys reading so I can imagine him re enrolling at his old uni to do a Master’s in public health or something. It’s not like he needs this new course.. but I have concluded he loves reading so hey -:)
The position of a lawyer with an LLM:
If you’re thinking of doing a masters – think carefully about the larger picture. I’m not against doing it as I have previously said. I only ask that you consider all the options and not settle for an LLM with the mind that its the only option. If you’re into Corporate Finance for example, it may make more sense doing a masters in Law and Finance (MSc) rather than doing an LLM. A friend from law school wants to go into Management and so the masters she has applied for is Management and Entrepreneurship (or something along those lines lol). The point is, she’s coming from a legal background but after deciding she does want to do a masters, has considered the end goal and is going down a different direction. Hope this is making sense…!
I won’t lie – the competition is fierce out there. Some jobs literally have 100 applications for one spot. So on the one hand, having a Masters can make you stand out. Take Nigeria for example – if you look at many of the very top firms, many of the lawyers will have a Masters as well as additional small courses. Apart from requiring a 2.1 at law school for most firms, havin an LLM can again give you an edge over other applicants. You could have two applicants – mirrored results but one has a masters, one doesn’t. You guys get the picture.
As I mentioned above, I do advocate for further study. Whilst I’ll stick with this, people who want to apply should considerother courses. Still talking about law, you can do an MBA, MSC, HR – the list is endless. The point being butressed here is its important that you tailor your course to suit your actual end goal. Why bother doing International Buisness Law LLM if you’ll end doing Family law at Igbosere High Court, Lagos? It sounds stupid I know but I have seeeen this happen!
A masters programme is available anywhere and everywhere, but people always think “England” is the happening place. Don’t limit yourself to the UK. Gosh, theres America, there’s Europe, theres Africa. See, many people are under this misconception that coming to the UK is the only place one can do a master’s for law. Let me correct your understanding small. It is not!
(Experience is koko!!)
More study is a good thing but one needs to be careful not to let their CV only look academic based. Too much academic achievements and not enough actual experience – disaster. As a lawyer, That’s why you wonder why you’re overlooked for a position and its given to someone else with less academic credentials. Experience matters. Don’t fill up your CV with just more letters beside your name. Gain more working experience. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have a master’s degree and all employers will want you. Experience sometimes supercedes all of that my darlings. Sometimes, the skills you have don’t match job requirements. When you make some applications, its only natural to think
” well I have an LLM/MA, it shows I’m smart – they will want me”.
No my dear. Even if you’re applying for legal positions in the interim, you may find that your academic qualifications aren’t doing you any favours. A commom response to some applications is
“Unfortunately, other applicants suited the role more closely…”
Its not because you’re not “qualified” in the broad sense – other applicants who don’t have your credentials probably just have more experience than you do. Experience matters.
Someone I know finished his PhD four years back. LLB, LLM, B.L, MCIArb,PhD…you name it, he had it. But, he had absolutely no experience by the time he graduated. He focused sooooo much on these courses that he didn’t make time. It shows he thought academics would replace experience. So,with smashing credentials, high 2.1 from undergrad and a distinction at masters, he struggled to get a job for about a year and a half. It wasnt that he didn’t have the brain’s ( he clearly did..) it was just that he lacked the experience. I know that getting experience is hard but anyhow you’re able to get it please do. You need it. Volunteer for a organisations. Keep sending unpaid internship applications out. Experience is important. Did you guys hear about that guy who handed out his CV at the tube station? If you didnt, read the article link Here . Again, this dude was smart but he was constantly being told, no experience, no experience. He had to go through drastic methods but hey.
Whatever you’re reason there’s no right or wrong one. My only advice is explore all the reasons why you’re doing what you want to do.
Here are a few honest questions to ask thy self :
1.What kind of masters? What are the options?
2. Are you financially prepared? – most masters are self funding unless you’re lucky to get full/part scholarship. If you’re an international student, will Daddy’s wallet be able to accommodate fees and living costs? If you’re a home student, will you work part time? How will you balance work and study?
3. Why are you doing it in the first place? Are you making up for a 2.2? An LLM is no substitute for work experience – should you gain more before embarking on it?
4. What do you want to gain from it? Are you expanding your knowledge or doing it because you just think it’s a good idea? Are you bridging the gap between doing your first degree and job searching? Again, a masters does not substitute for work experience.
5. What is the end goal? This should be the first and main question really. But you know how it is.
Okiessssss…my fingers are hurting! I hope it has been insightful…ish. -:)
Why, oh why would you do a PhD?
I have been looking forward to this particular post for a while actually. A big opportunity for me to answer some unanswered questions. So essentially, this post is for anyone considering going for PhD and also to let you know some of the challenges I faced when deciding if it was for me.
I have found writing this blog to be quite useful in many ways. When I was making my application, I looked online for any PhD law related blogs. Hardly any. Looked for blogs related to my chosen research area. Hardly none. Searched for blogs which had some kind of advice for people who were thinking of a PhD…..found some, but many were very specific in that they were Science based. Not that helpful if honest but I could piece together some things from it. So thats how I got started with this blog.
Firstly, its enabled me to express myself much better. My confidence has never been called into question, but I find that it has improved greatly – within my relationships and within work. I’m no longer afraid to say no and have more confidence to speak bluntly. I believe my mother would call this ‘getting big for one’s boots’. LOOL.
Secondly, I am able take time to reflect on my journey personally and at the same time, give you guys a bit of insight. I use this blog as a platform to offer the little advice I have and to share some of my observations and experiences. Shikena.
Sooooo Fols,… why a PhD? (Ok, im writing this in the train and I think the person beside me farted. YUCK. But ok. Anyway..)
I’ve embarked on this journey for many reasons, so mini disclaimer: forgive me as this may be a long post.
So yes, why a PhD?
1. Initial Decisions..
Doing a PhD isn’t a decision one should go into lightly and its not one you should make overnight. I had to consider a million and one things. Further study for another three years is no joke. I considered all the Pro’s and Con’s. Some of the honest questions I asked myself included:
•What if my CV looks too education based? •Whats my end goal? • What would I be achieving by gaining a Dr in front of my name? • Was I doing it to prove a point?• What my final intention? • What did I want to get out of this thesis? •How relevant would it be in the real world •How could I package myself effectively if I decide to go back to Nigeria or if I decided to stay here? • If I returned to Nigeria, how would I fit in to the work life – what jobs could I target?
I was very fortunate to have acquired a lot of work experience during my studies and post law school. But something that kept propping to mind was where I would fit in should I decide I want to practice back in Nigeria.. Some law firms there have this problem with people who go and come back with a PhD. Where do they fit in? Associate position? Senior Associate? Is there an inbetween? Potential lack of experience could mean an Associate position is more suitable- gives them the ability to learn from their seniors and learn the ropes. Call it on-the-job-training. However on the other hand, you couldn’t deny that such a person is bringing a wealth of ‘knowledge’ ( in the broad sense..) and that can’t be overlooked. Nigeria and its ‘packaging’ is always resurfacing.
Some people think that when you do a Doctorate, it means that your final destination will be to become a lecturer. Error. Doing a Doctorate opens up many doors – Lecturing is not the only option. There’s:
3. In- house
6. Combining Lecturing & Practice
Depending on what your PhD is on and how your journey evolves, that will determine where you end up long term. The possibility of ending up as a lecturer was something I considered in the long term – another honest question for myself.
2. How important would my work be in the real world?
One of the main requirements that you need to fufil before being awarded a Doctorate is that you make an original contribution to knowledge. So yes. Copy and paste is totally out of it lol. Anyway, the reality of the PhD however is that even though you are exploring a ‘new’ topic – its not really new in the real sense of it. There is nothing you are writing that hasnt been written before. It’s just the way you package it.
Take X factor for example…most of the songs which are sang have already been sung and heard a million times over. It’s nothing new. But – when you hear it sung by a contestant in an audition, sometimes they will sing it in a different way and add a twist to it. Thats what makes it original. Or in x factor terms, shows ‘raw talent’. So to put it in context, the 100k word thesis I am going to produce (By Gods Grace…and all the people gave a RESOUNDING AMEN..) is work which is already available but my packaging and the angle I will look at it from will be different. Thus, fulfilling the ‘original contribution’ requirement. Hope that makes sense…?
So, I’m soorrrrry to dissapoint, but its unlikely that the thesis you produce will change the world lol.
3. Freedom of study?
Was I doing it of my own free will? Was I pressurised by parents/family into doing it? Absolutely not. I decided to embark on this journey because it was what I wanted to do. After law school I had many options – back in Nigeria and here in London. Even now, I still get the occasional emails asking me to join good law firms back in Nigeria once I have finished my current course. Embarking on a PhD should be something you have personally decided and have “conviction” over. Believe me, it is very easy for people to fall into the trap of
‘Ehn..do it now. It’s a good idea. Don’t worry, your father and I will fund your studies‘
LOL..Don’t laugh. It happens mate.
If you fall into that, please really think about if its for you.
4. ‘Student Status..’
This is quite funny actually. When people ask me what do I do, sometimes I just say I am a lawyer to avoid the whole truth. You don’t need to know if im practicing jor. Once, I told someone I was a student and she said ( and I quote..)
“Awwww, undergrad. What are you studying? Nursing abi?”
I just nodded lol. I couldn’t deal with any more questions that day. But why would you say nursing? So random. Anyway, the point is the prospect of being a student again for a long haul was something I had to consider if I was cut out for again. Burning the candle at both ends was not an attractive selling point.
I came across a blog yesterday which literally hit the nail on the head for me about this particular point. Read all about itHere . Something which I found a difficult was the transition back from ‘professional’ to ‘student’. Labelling. Essentially that was what was happening. I had just finished law school, newly qualified and here I was, returning back to student status. The challenge here wasn’t the course itself but what I would be called. So. When I discuss my current status my responses include but not limited to:
1. Doctoral Researcher
4. Doing a PhD
5. Research Associate
7. I am investigating….
8. What do I do now? * looks away*
9. Oh, me…erm. I am a lawyer.
I never say student. Call it proud. Issokay, I don’t mind . Call it identity crisis sef, issokay. On my business card (yes I have one thank you very much..) I had “Doctoral Researcher” written on it. I mean you can’t really have a buisness card then write student…it just looks odd. My friend at Warwick who is also doing a PhD – he will never call himself a student. In fact, he detests it.I still teased him about it last night. So when I ask him how uni was, his response is always
‘Fola, you mean how was work? ‘
Ohhh there is one pro to being a student – you can still enjoy student discount in alot of places and still enjoy intrest free overdraft. So I guess its not all that bad
5. Gender issues
Loll this is probably the most funniest for me. As I mentioned in previous posts, some people questioned my reasoning and wondered why I wasn’t rushing down the alter as opposed to rushing for student status again.
Honestly, being a woman doing this PhD wasn’t something I made a big deal out it. It was only after a while I saw what the fuss was about. I considered how I would deal with these issues being raised:
• You know you’re a woman (as if it was easy for me to forget lollll..) you don’t want men to run from you now • You dont want to be toooo overqualified, you’ll scare men away • Men will be scared to approach you o…• You’re not getting any younger o Fola( again, as if I had forgotten..) • • Your standards will be sky high when you finish o..• Men this, man that. Kai I was tired.
To summarise the above. I confess these are issues which I did consider. See, modernisation has spoilt the world o. In our society today, the power struggle between men and women is still sometimes an issue. Who earns more money? Who will take care of the bills? If I earn more money than him, I should have an equal right/say in the house abi? Please you can’t talk to me like that, don’t you know I am more educated than you? (During a fight…) I don’t blame you, when you’re an ordinary office manager, why wouldn’t you say that? Don’t you know I have a PhD..fool?!
Far fetched, but when a woman is angry or frustrated at maybe being the breadwinner, there’s nothing she can’t say.
But, again I confess that these should be questions that one at least thinks about. I’m not saying it should be a deterrent to you doing it, but at least prepare yourself for the possibility of hearing all this jazz and prepare yourself for how you’ll address it. Prepare yourself by looking at the bigger picture..if you’re single whilst about to start the PhD, look at about how it could impact on you when you eventually decide to settle down.
Consider youself personally, is there a possibility you’ll grow wings and think you can only be approached by certain men/women (if you swing that way LOL). If you’re with someone already, how supportive is s/he of your goal? Are you seeing early signs of problems with regards to persuing a PhD? Honest conversations with thyself is important o.
So far so good, the PhD journey has been interesting if anything. I have learnt things about myself that I didnt know, didn’t explore or didn’t pay attention to. Let me share some with you. For example, I have learned to listen more. Sounds silly I know. Listening more has helped me in more ways than I can have imagined. Its helped me pay more attention to detail about certain things.
I read on another blog recently, about someone who has now had the confidence to walk into any Senior Academics (in his department..) room and suddenly, they are interested in what he has to say. This has been the same with me both in and out of school.
I was at a networking event on Thursday (amazing people and I got to exchange cards with many interesting people..a lil bit about that later..) and at almost all of them, I find that people are now genuinely interested in my work. Interested in my field, interested period. Not that they weren’t before lol..but you guys understand. They are interested in my research. In my progress. Interested on what I have to contribute – its a nice feeling LOL. Notice the repetition of ‘interesting’. That’s the best word I can think of using.
My presentation skills and confidence have been significantly ehnanced. I’m more confident talking about my work to a large audience now. I had my reservations before. Well, not reservations. Lets say I was a bit shy. The fear of rejection is real yo.
All in all its been a good experience so far. It hasn’t been smooth sailing. Don’t let anyone make you think its easy peasy…this thing is NOT beans at all. The main issues I have encountered are the lack of readily available information and the occasional lack of motivation/writers block. Those have been my main challenges to be honest. My research area is very specific and as a result, getting data has been an issue. On Friday, I was reading a journal article by a very popular academic in Nigeria. Please believe me when I say I saw ‘Wikipedia’ on one of the footnotes. As in, Wikipedia. I was sooo disappointed. Unfortunately these are some of the issues you’ll face when trying to get data online about Nigeria.
If you’re planning a PhD on an area which getting materials could be difficult, try to establish some links with those who can help you get hold of it. Start sending emails to people who could have access to such data. Trust me, you’ll thank me eventually.
When I get a ‘writers block’, I do one of the following things:
a) remind myself this PhD is not free. It requires cash, energy and time. Time wasted is more painful than money spent.
and if that doesn’t work,
b) I buy something new.
Too ends of the spectrum I know. Please, go and disagree in your various compounds thanks in advance. The above works for me.
So to conclude. Whatever your reason is for doing a PhD, ensure you have gone through the thought process properly. The idea of a PhD sounds attractive I know..I mean, being called Dr is like the pinnacle now. But, it is not one to entered into lightly. Once people know you’re doing this type of course, unintentionally they see you in a different light. Again, call it pride. Those who know what I mean, know what I mean. Consider all your options and decide if this is the right step for you.
I can’t put my finger on exactly what I will do when I have finished but I know that there are so many options. These days, I try not plan beyond 3 months. Anything after that, gives me a headache. You can’t plan everything!
Till our next post
Mentorship..And Then Some.
Hey guys. I know it’s been a while since I properly posted something…so here it is -:) The academic year is coming to a close so I thought I would update you guys on what has been going on and all. As I discussed in my last posts, Mentorship is something that is very close to my heart right now. I think it is really important that you have someone(or maybe some people) who can guide you in the right direction. If not for anything, to at least help you maintain your sanity.
The Search for a voice…
So, following the appointment of my first mentor who I shall refer to subsequently as “Miss B”, she advised me to “find my voice” and to ” master my research area”. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I remember looking at the email thinking, ‘What does she mean “find my voice”…I’m not singing for X Factor ya know! Anyway, after much clarification I understood what she meant.
In the academic world, finding your voice or feet as the case may be, is important. However, it will not happen overnight. Start by reading wider, see what topics you find more interesting with relation to your research. Once you do that, you are on your way. I have not found my voice yet, but I have certainly started mumbling my first words.
Writing early is a good idea regardless of what anyone else will tell you. Look guys, this PhD is not beans. It requires hard work, dedication and CONSISTENCY. The combination of all three is so crucial, goodness. The likelihood is you may not start writing for the first 6 months because you will be reading widely. Even if you discard a large chunk of what you eventually write, you should have something to work from. Writing the first few sentences is difficult, but after the first paragraph, you’ll see that it will all flow and come together. What you want to avoid is a situation that you start writing in your third year and then run into a stage of panic because a) you haven’t found your voice, b) your supervisor thinks you need to go back to the drawing board, c) you don’t feel confident enough to even submit a draft to your supervisor or d) you are OVERWHELMED that you feel a breakdown pending. Avoid that ish. Write SOMETHING!
My plan is to submit my first chapter soon. However along the way of voice searching, I started writing an article on a topic which is in my chapter. Writing articles can be beneficial because that’s an indication that you may be on your way to publishing. Although it is a very rigorous process, it can take up to six months. Numerous editing and cutting and pasting and throwing away of words etc. Publishing is good. It will thrust you into the limelight and your article will also be peer reviewed. Again, good for you because you’ll get much feedback on your work and also the opportunity to re-evaluate. So in a nutshell, writing the article has helped me shape the way my chapter will go and also helped in shaping my ideas. Plus, it helps with the word count!! I took the first part of her advice and I must say it is certainly working well for me. The second part was a little more trickier..
Mastering your research area and at least becoming fluent in the language is crucial. Imagine being asked a random question on a topic relating to your research and having to resort to fillers to answer. ERM? Even if you don’t admit to being embarrassed, it’s possible you will feel a little stupid. I mean, you claim to be doing a PhD in this research area and you don’t know the basics? Guuurrllll. Ok.
Master your area. It won’t happen overnight; no-one is saying that it should. What I am saying however is that you should manage your time well and give yourself enough time to understand the mechanics of your research. If there is a topic that you don’t understand, take time out to read about it. Cultivate it. Don’t hide under the disguise of “I don’t need to know about it because it’s not part of my research area”. Learning about it could give you the inspiration you have been looking for. Trust me, I know about that! Once you have mastered your topic generally, you can will find and develop your voice and then take your baby steps into writing.
My second mentor, (this one is more like a father figure, so we shall refer to him as Dr A) gave me some pointers a few days ago. He said “Fola, you should really consider getting a reading partner”. Again, confusion struck me. How can I be doing this much work and now I should also get a reading partner. Surely not! When he explained however, I understood. Again.
How MUCH more reading yo!
A reading partner does not necessarily have to be someone in your exact field or even in your department. Preferably however, it would be nice if it was another PhD student. S/he can appreciate the demands of this course and you guys can go through the struggle together. When choosing a reading partner, be mindful that this person will actively be expected to criticise your work, look for loopholes etc. etc. Obviously, you can expect to do the same to theirs
The point of having a reading partner is in two folds. One the one hand, you may prefer someone other than your supervisor to look at your work, depending on the kind of relationship you and your supervisor have. I have highlighted in earlier posts the importance of having a good working relationship with your supervisor. Less awks. On the other hand, it would be good to have someone review you work to a) make sure it makes sense and b) make sure it makes sense. If you and your research partner are from different fields, then think of him or her as a “lay man.” By doing that your work should make sense to your reading partner. If it doesn’t then at least you have identified that there is no consistency in your work and it certainly won’t make sense to anyone else reading it. You can’t go wrong with having a free proof reader as a reading partner.
If you do decide to take this reading partner advice, please take note of the following.
1.You and your partner should work within a good time frame. Give yourself like two weeks to send work to each other, read, correct and send back. I’m sure you will thank me eventually..
Agree to be brutal to be kind
2. The truth is bitter whichever way you decide to look at it. But so is the world of academia. The last conference I went to, academics literally ripped some of the presenters works to pieces. BRUTAL..HONESTLY!! But as I have said before, the feedback helps in terms of the bigger picture. If there is one thing I have learnt so far, the world of academia requires you to have thick skin. At least that way, you are preparing yourself for potential knock-downs. It wont be so hard after that.
So far so good that’s all they have given me and to be frank its enough for me to be working with right now. So yh, take it on board:)
This weekend I shall be partying with my bestest friend in the WORLD to celebrate her 30th….Cannot wait! Sunday night, I shall be eating fried fish and drinking cocktails. Or Chapman. Either way sha. Those who know me know I do not compromise on weekend enjoyment..unless it’s REALLY serious.
Have a great weekend all
The “Trainee” Academic
Today I am going to post about life beyond the PhD. Yes folks, I know I am not at that point yet, but nearly I am having to do some of the things I am listing below, so what better way than to share it with you guys! Anyway, I attended a conference recently and the keynote speaker was talking about viewing yourself as a “Trainee Academic..‘. So..I thought maybe, someone, somewhere, who reads my blog could benefit from it
So, what is a “Trainee Academic?”
In one sentence, the stage before you BECOME an Academic. You better believe it Boys and Girls, whether you decide to go into academia or not, that is exactly what you are. Say it with me now:
T R A I N E E A C A D E M I C
Moving forward and staying in line with my earlier posts (Lost In Translation) and (The Halfway Mark), you should also position yourself with regards to where you see yourself in the next one year. Now, this is different from the 3 or 6 month plan because that relates solely to your thesis. The larger plan looks at BEYOND the thesis.
Going back to the title of this post, I think it’s helpful if you start to see yourself in that light if you see yourself as going into Academia. In fact, although this post centers around those considering academia as a potential career path, the main concept is still applicable in other fields.
Me? I don’t know if Academia is for me although it is something I am SERIOUSLY toying with at present. So yes, I am taking some of these salient points and I am making use of it. I am however still looking for that billionaire man so I can be an educated housewife wearing Prada, but we won’t go into that this morning..you can read all about that dream here. (Educated Housewife in Prada Dream..)
Ok no, back to business Fola. If you see yourself going down this route, there are three things you need to bear in mind. (Is it BARE or BEAR? I never know the difference…)
1. The need to start thinking like a Trainee Academic
2. The need to behave like a Trainee Academic
3. The need to do things that Trainee Academics do.
1. Thinking like them..
In thinking like them, I mean stretching your mind beyond your 6,000 word literature review and way past answering your research questions/sub questions. I mean identifying other areas of your research that you can target and write about. Identifying an area which only two academic have really discussed in depth. Looking at areas that you can write a paper on within your scope and research. Creating a profile for yourself.
2.Behaving like them..
Listen. Getting the PhD is not the difficult part..its what you do afterwards, hence thinking beyond the 3/6 month plan. I think I commented on this much earlier in my posts, but, let me use this opportunity to reiterate. If you want to go into academia, you need to behave like someone who wants to be in this “circle” of academic. That’s English for Publishing your work, prompting discussions on your work/area of research and getting noticed. Behaving like them..!
3. Doing the things trainee academics do..
Publish! I have said this above, and I will say it again. PUBLISH! It is like the key to to your car.. You can’t go and oppress anyone in your new car if you don’t have the car keys to drive in order to get to your destination. It goes without saying.. If you want a career in academia, you can’t get it without publishing your work. It is still married to the above points in that you need to think and behave like an academic.
On that note, I think I ought to return to my actual work. I have like a million and one things to do before I go and eat my Subway, footlong, Chicken Teriaki with extra cheese on a Hearty Italian. Sorry, am I making you hungry? LOL
Adios guys! [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Cremè de la Cremè….and finding the “One”
It’s been a hot hot minute. I haven’t blogged since the end of April – my sincere apologies. My excuses are as follows LOL:
1. Started teaching again (after a short break, tell you all about this later..!) and everything has been very touch and go since. The first few weeks are always always about trying to get the admin work sorted (planning the next semester, staff meetings, writing exam questions etc) so that’s been my main ish. I think I need to hire a personal assistant!
2.My work. Almost almost done! Don’t let me say anything more – but I have a surprise for you all, very very soon!
Today, it’s a bit of a long one, as I’d like to share my experience on the issue of “Mentorship”.
As you guys know, (or should do LOL!) the matter of ‘Mentorship’ is important to me for many reasons. The first, it’s a very useful tool in terms of identifying with someone who can guide on your career path or where you have the potential to be in the next five years. The second, I have always found the information/advice given to be useful, helpful and insightful. It’s always been easy to tell someone what my end game is and get their insight on the best ways of you getting there.
So you guys know I am always looking to expand my circle, but particularly, I am always keen to have those who can inspire or “ginger” me to do better. I’ve recently been extremely privileged to meet two wonderfully and significantly accomplished people – let me tell you about them.
The first is a woman. She’s well accomplished in her field and highly respected. She knows exactly what she is doing – she’s carefully calculated and extremely meticulous in what she does. In the short time that I have known her, there are several attributes of hers that I have learnt, like the importance of paying attention to detail. A little apt, coming from a lawyer as we are generally expected to have this skill. I think mine is not as sharpened and seeing its importance in practice has made it just a tad clearer.
There are things about her I wish I could say, but a) that would reveal who she is and b) I have not asked that permission and (c) I don’t want anyone to steal her from me! I joke, I joke!
The second is a man. Goodness and gaddddamit! This man is so very very accomplished ( at a young age, I might add!) and incredibly strategic about decisions he makes. Based on the few meetings that we have had, and his outlook on certain issues, I can see how he has clearly and meticulously planned each stage of his chosen career path and I understand the decisions he has made, based on the results/outcomes. I can learn from him many things, but particularly, my ability to master the art of planning.
Get yourself a mentor.
You are creme de la creme, but you will only take this ‘crème’ to the next level if you take the time to refine and challenge yourself to grow. Your self improvement is your responsibility. It doesn’t matter what career path you are from – there are always benefits of having a mentor. However, it is important that you make the distinction between a “friend” and a “mentor“. The relationship I have struck with these two people are absolutely the latter. If you’re really looking for a mentor, you ought to be looking for someone who is going to cultivate and inspire you. You need to be looking for someone that you can consider as a role model that you can you want to “emulate” if I can borrow that word. I am not saying that your friends cant do that for you – I am just saying that the way a mentor would advise you is very different from how a friend would.
Your mentor needs to know who you are.
Listen. I have heard people say things like my pastor/preacher/lecturer/singer is my mentor – but does s/he know your name? Who you are? What you do? Where you are from? Your kids names? (if applicable LOL)
Mentorship doesn’t work like that. If you want a mentor and want the relationship to work, that person needs to know who you are and keep you on track. They need to be able to call you up and say
“Hey, how is work going? How are your plans working out? What have you put in place to make this work?”
A person who you can only see through a TV screen or who you see just in passing, is not a mentor for you. You need to have that established relationship.
The “ONE” doesn’t exist.
So let me break it down further before I disappear off your screens again. In looking for a mentor, you need not restrict yourself to one person, because I genuinely don’t believe that a single person can fully fulfil the role of a mentor. It’s generally accepted that nobody is perfect, and if this is the case, you cannot actually expect to get it all from a single person. I think its quite healthy to actually be able to emulate bits and pieces from different people and then build on this to make yourself a better person. If you are able to master the art of time keeping from one, then you might not find that same thing in another, but that person may challenge you to master the art of paying attention to detail. Mix and match lol.
Think of it like a Yoruba boyfriend. When you’re in love, you think he is the one. Cos well, the boy is just bae and he treats you like a queen. Then you see his wedding pictures on Bella Naija on Instagram and realise this punk ass actually is not the one after all. But well, at least he took you out to really nice places for dinner while you were together.
I joke, I joke
Anyway, that about it for now. I promise, I will be back very very soon!
Peace and love guys!