From PhD to ECR

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From PhD to ECR

As a newly qualified Early Career Researcher, looking ahead to your first year post-PhD, you may be wondering what next. In this case study Georgina Collins, who has a PhD in Translation Studies, talks about her first year as an early career researcher.

Georgina Collins

I studied for a PhD in Translation Studies in the French Studies department at Warwick and took my viva on 1 October 2010. I wanted to continue working in academia so had applied for a number of posts beginning a year prior to completing my PhD.

My Year in Jobs

In the year immediately following my viva (1 October 2010 to 1 October 2011) I took on a number of different jobs at Warwick and beyond in order to develop my academic employability as well as being able to survive financially. These were:

  • Freelance Translator
  • Course Tutor, Workers’ Educational Association (WEA)
  • Early Career Fellow, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Warwick
  • Early Career ‘Research Exchange’ Project Officer / Web Writer – University of Warwick
  • Researcher: Women from Muslim Communities in France, School of Health and Social Studies, University of Warwick
  • Teaching Fellow, French Studies

How a few of these posts have helped me:

Freelance translator – I have a PhD in Translation Studies and have worked as a part-time freelance translator (French to English) since 2006. As I hope to lecture in Translation Studies and French Studies, having professional experience of translation and the French language is of great benefit to me. Publications of my literary translation will be especially helpful.

Course tutor, WEA – I have taught World Literature for the WEA for over two years and it has provided me with invaluable experience in the classroom as well as in course development, lesson planning, student assessment and module review. These are all skills that are transferable to academic posts.

Early career fellowship, University of Warwick – I was fortunate to be awarded an Early Career Fellowship from the Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) at Warwick which began on the day of my viva. This was an immense relief, but it also put extra pressure on me as it was dependent on receiving no more than minor corrections. Luckily, all went well.

The IAS Early Career Fellowship is 0.5 FTE (Full Time Equivalent) and its main aim is to give new researchers time to advance the development of their research career by:

  • Writing research publications
  • Compiling and presenting conference papers
  • Applying for jobs and postdoctoral fellowships
  • Engaging with IAS activities

Conference Organisation
During the course of my IAS fellowship, I organised the following events:

  • Publishing your Thesis in the Humanities
  • African Languages and Translation
  • Between Utopia and Dystopia: The Afterlives of Empire, The French Institute, London

I am now organising a further conference at the French Institute on behalf of the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies. This is called The Postcolonial City and will be held in November 2011.

The events I organised enabled me to discuss potential research projects with academics in related areas such as African Languages and Translation and also Francophone Postcolonial Studies. As a result, I have put together a three year research project.

Engaging with IAS activities
Whilst working at the IAS, I attended a number of skills sessions, research seminars, publishing workshops and events organised by members of the Sub-Saharan African Research Network (SSARN). It was great to have access to both the skills workshops as well as research events, which allowed for continued professional development following achievement of the PhD.

Applying for jobs and postdoctoral fellowships
During the course of my Early Career Fellowship I applied for a number of jobs and postdocs, which can be a full-time job in itself. It can be very difficult at times to remain enthusiastic and continue to give every application considered attention following any rejections. Having said this, I made sure I put great effort into each application, preparing for interviews and listening to any feedback, and this paid off in the end.

Final thoughts
It has been an exhausting year. When I finished my PhD, I am not sure I realised the hurdles I would still have to jump before attaining a full-time post. Having said that, I have thoroughly enjoyed the variation of jobs I have had the opportunity to do, I haven’t been without work and I am very excited about the pathway that my academic career is taking.

Next steps
I hope that the skills I have gained over the last year as well as my Teaching Fellowship will provide me with the experience needed to gain a permanent position.

Content from Image Georgina Collins e-portfolio

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