Rosalind lectures at the University of Birmingham where she completed her PhD in the English Department...
I decided to do my PhD after completing an MA in Applied Linguistics and TESOL, which I did at the same time as teaching English abroad.
During my MA, I particularly enjoyed a project to analyse text messages, and I saw a gap in this area of research and decided I wanted to investigate further by starting my PhD 'A Corpus Linguistics Study of Text Messaging'. Looking back, I did not make a conscious decision to follow an academic career, but was predominantly following my research interest.
After completing my PhD, I worked for two years as a lecturer at the Open University (OU) and gained experience there before returning to Birmingham in my current role as a lecturer in English language studies.
I saw the job advertised and specifically they were looking to recruit someone with research interests in new media. As my PhD was in texting, I'd come to be seen as a new media expert, which put me in a strong position to get the job. It also helped that the department knew me from my PhD days and that I'd gained experience at the OU.
My time at the OU helped to prepare me for the varied role of a lecturer, because working closely with colleagues taught me a lot about my subject area and how to juggle demands on my time in a busy role. This was a useful learning curve, as I don't think your PhD fully prepares you for handling a role where you need to fit your research in around other activities.
A working week typically involves time in the office preparing classes, marking and moderating and doing activities related to research such as bid writing, putting together an edited book, writing or post-production tasks on books and articles being published. Most weeks there are meetings to attend and classes about three days a week. I enjoy this variety, and whilst research is my main focus, I also like the interaction with students and colleagues. I also enjoy the flexibility and responsibility; for example, we have a lot of control over how we manage our time, although this can also be a challenge. Securing funding is the most difficult aspect of the role!
I would like to develop my career with a focus on research, getting involved in research projects and publishing my research. I'm also currently doing a certificate in postgraduate teaching in order to join the Higher Education Academy, which is obligatory for my probation, and I can see myself applying for senior lecturer in due course, although this is not particularly an ambition of mine. I want to ensure that any future role continues to allow me to research things I am interested in. This is one of the best things about working in academia and I love the idea that we are paid to listen to other academics talking about their research.
If you have a PhD and want an academic career I think that contacts are important, as is enthusiasm and willingness to learn from others. Luck can also play a huge role, for example what jobs are available when you need one and who else is applying. I feel I have been very lucky, being at the right place at the right time.
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