Tomorrow Isn’t Forever – A Career in Steps
It’s the day after you graduated with your PGR degree and you haven’t managed to land the job you’d hoped all of this would secure. What does that mean?
The narratives that swirl around in our culture could lead you to believe that this means you will never land a good career or that doing the PhD/MA Res was pointless.
In fact it only means that you haven’t secured a relevant role yet. The yet in that sentence is incredibly important.
Many people find that their careers take them on unexpected journeys before they find themselves in the career that is right for them. Often this isn’t even the career they originally thought that they wanted.
But the idea that you should be able to walk out of any degree, straight into the perfect job that is the first step in the perfect career is simply unrealistic.
If you are one of those students who desperately does want an academic job in a university, the fact that you don’t land one right away doesn’t mean you never will. It may that you find yourself working in research for a private organisation or charity. Or working in industry amassing experience of your subject in the real world. Or bringing your knowledge to bear in the real world but in a different discipline, meaning you develop cross disciplinary expertise.
All of this will make you more desirable as an academic, which means you may become one – but it will be a few years later, not right away. More than that – it may make you a better academic. Having experienced the world outside of university life, your teaching and research may be better grounded and informed.
Tomorrow is just one step in your career. Take the step that is available, learn what you can from it and then be open to the next opportunities that present themselves. Then you can take the next step and the next…
Your career overall will probably last for decades. You can’t make it all happen tomorrow. So take the pressure off yourself to land the perfect job right away and focus instead on moving forward step by step, focusing on learning, finding meaning and using your strengths.
To adapt a tired old phrase, your career is a journey, not a destination. Tired as that phrase is, it is still true. So take one step, enjoy as much of it as you can and then prepare for the next one.