Interview-Style Discussion on Career, Work-environment and Work-life Balance

I was invited to attend a research group seminar the other week with another research group led by my excellent colleague professor Isto Huvila. Isto is an extremely talented researcher, and we have worked together for many years, and on top of that also a very nice person to work with. We have published a lot in the DOME collaboration on eHealth, and I have really learned a lot from our multidisciplinary work.

During the seminar, Isto and I talked and discussed our experiences from working in academia. We did it in kind of an interview-style discussion and had prepared a few areas that we wanted to cover. None of these was the traditional style things such as presenting a paper of research results, quality of research, methodology or how to make use of theory. We then informally discussed different topics, and the attending PhD students and postdocs asked questions and commented. I think that this worked very well, and we talked and laughed filling in each others’ stories. The areas covered were of the same variety as the emojis of this blog post.

Some of the topics we covered where:

  • Work-life balance and having a family as an academic.
  • Career paths and our own backgrounds. What did we base our choices on?
  • Networking and choosing whom to collaborate with
  • Saying NO to things – how is that done or not done?
  • Playing an academic career game and getting a job.
  • How assessments are done of applications for a position
  • Failing badly at publishing
  • Impostor syndrome feelings
  • Our best moments as academics
  • What do we think are the best things about working as a professor?
  • What motivated us to work in academia?
  • What are our plans forward?

We need more of these informal talks in academia generally, and the PhD students enjoy seeing a variety of different senior researchers and the diversity of who we are. I recommend trying this informal discussion like a way of addressing this – it worked really well.