Look who has popped in for a return post

I sat down on my computer this morning and decided to shut down this site.  But when I logged in I found that it is still receiving hits, probably more than my other (professional) website.

I suspect the whole PhD journey thing is still touching nerves.  As a result I might leave this alone for a while and, hopefully, it is helping those still in the midst of academic hell.

Where am I nearly 12 months since I last logged in?

I’m in new places and old places simultaneously.

Rereading my last post that pondered my future, I’m happy to saw one big goal I had has been achieved.  I am now a sewer. In January I started a beginners sewing course and I am not making (still fairly basic) #memade clothes for my wardrobe.  A lot are misses, but some are hits, and I’m loving learning a new skill.  One thing that has flourished in the past 12 months has been my creativity.  I’m cooking, sewing and even crafting in ways I never had before, inspired by the lovely Melbourne community I met working in the arts sector in 2016.

My academic progress is probably what some readers here care more about.

That has been hit and miss too.  I haven’t, as yet, published.  This is largely due to my own laziness (and fear). I have 2 papers in draft form, one about 80%/one about 50%, that I’m hoping to send off before year’s end.  I never went forward with the book idea, trade or otherwise, as I didn’t feel confident in my own ability to write it.  Maybe I’ll revisit it, maybe not.

I have, however, immersed myself in the university system in another way – tutoring.  I picked up a few classes in arts management and more in the faculty of business and economics at University of Melbourne in February. This has proven to be a fantastic learning exercise, a reasonable wage, and a lot of fun.  Added to that I’m running a subject at a private college that teaches entertainment management and casual marking at Deakin University. I’ve actually had more work than I can handle at times.  I do miss research, but as a lifestyle it’s been great.  I know I have a large break at the end of the year (before I head to Africa for some travel) where I can work on the papers and fitness level!  There’s been some discussion of research work coming my way in 2019, but we will wait and see about that.  I suspect semester 1 2019 is going to be insanely busy with classes, so I need to be judicial in my decisions.

Of course, being me, I worry about getting stuck in the casual academic ghetto.  I’d really like to have some published papers and maybe some more arts work under my belt.  But being paid well to do something you really enjoy and having summer off (though I can do summer school) isn’t the worst life?

It’s worth mentioning post-PhD PTSD (as a few friends call it).  The 12-18 months after submission are really hard.  Psychologically you lose your identity, have no idea what you will do next and feel completely at a loss.  I was lucky to have one friend who was on a similar timetable to me so we spent a fair but of time drinking wine and worrying together.

Even now I still feel pulled in different directions (I’m writing a proposal for AIMAC 2019 today even though I was 100% not going to go. Why bother if I’m not going to be an academic? But then I feel FOMO and it’s in VENICE!) I also know that I am much luckier in many ways than if I did this at 30. If I still had a whole career thing ahead of me I’d be panicking about gaining a foothold in academia when I actually recognise the competitiveness is not for me.

Overall life is good.  Do I regret doing the PhD? No.  Has it made me a better person? Yes.  Has it created a shiny new career path? Absolutely not. I hope those reading this are going strong.

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Endings and beginnings

I might start by answering my last question. Things started to get better, or different at least, about 2 weeks after my last post. After falling into a heap I headed to Hobart for my mother’s birthday and while there I gave myself a metaphoric slap and decided to get moving at finding post-PhD work regardless of results. I rewrote my resume and started reaching out to contacts.

Two days later my results came through.

They were pretty much as expected, if a little better. Theoretically there were minor changes to do, but editing wise I was thoroughly spanked. I can’t disagree, as it really was a bit of a mess. In retrospect I should have put the thesis down for 2 months, gone off on holiday, returned and rewritten it. Convincing myself to do this, however, would have been a challenge.

It took about 5 weeks to address all my feedback, then it was all signed off in 24hours. Now, 3weeks later, I’m awaiting official conferral of my degree. Then, after 4 years, I will be Dr Goodwin.

What next?

Well I’ve agreed to a few research projects at Deakin, not really providing the income I’d like, but interesting nonetheless. Who knows where they will lead academically. My reaching out to my old HR sector has proven frustrating, as though the initial response was positive when I’ve actually tried to get work I’m treated like my last 6years in the arts and academia were a stint in either a coma or jail. Somehow the 15 years of work experience I have was not enhanced by a PhD, but eradicated.

Academically, on the other hand I am still massively under qualified. Even with 2 years of masters level teaching, without publications and a local record I can’t get a look in as a tutor here. In the past 6months I’ve been rejected for more jobs than I have in the rest of my life. It is a humbling experience. There’s a blog post on Thesis Whisperer today that also speaks to this challenge.

I vacillate between anger, frustration and the desire to forge a new path. That new path may involve writing a book, ideally non-academic, developing some consulting projects and a bit of academic research and writing. And learning to sew. For now I’m drafting a book proposal, some journal articles and meeting with organisational design/effectiveness consultants to learn. I keep one eye on the job market and another open to research roles. I am trying to enjoy the freedom, not getting bogged down with the fear of unemployment.

The PhD has changed me, partly for the good but also it has made me much more critical of things. As much as I’d like a real salary again, I’m not sure I’m really the corporate person I was 10 years ago (and I wasn’t particularly corporate then.)

Is this my last post? PhD 2017 has been achieved but the journey is not over yet. Instead of taking this down I think I’ll check in periodically to let people know what life post-PhD looks like. I may include my new website (under construction) and book ideas. Feel free to ask any questions.