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Academia and Industry: The good, the bad and the ugly Dr Jenny Summerville.

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Presentation on theme: "Academia and Industry: The good, the bad and the ugly Dr Jenny Summerville."— Presentation transcript:

1 Academia and Industry: The good, the bad and the ugly Dr Jenny Summerville

2 A Brief History…  Left QUT in July to pursue private consultancy opportunities  2003 – July 2008 worked for Centre for Social Change Research and School of Design  held a range of casual & part-time academic & research positions  Enrolled in my Phd in 2000 – finally got it in 2007

3 My journey from PhD to academia…  More of an iterative process than a smooth progression from one to the other  Took lots of opportunities to get research and lecturing experience  This is also the reason it took me six years to finish my PhD!

4 Disclaimer: My current role in industry would not be possible without ten years of experience in academia While there are some significant differences between academia and industry, the two domains cross over in a number of ways I am a private consultant and there are major differences between running your own business and working for an organisation (academic or industry-based)

5 Academia and Industry: What’s the difference? Some common assumptions:  Academia is more flexible  Industry pays more  Academia provides more room for intellectual autonomy  Industry is more practical  The only people in academia are those who can’t make it in industry  Industry-based professionals do not have the same level of insight into complex problems as academics

6 Myth or Reality? Academia is more flexible On the whole, academia does provide more opportunities for flexible working hours and autonomy in deciding where and how you work Things to note: It’s great to choose how you work, however there is a fine line between flexibility that helps you achieve a better work/life balance and flexibility for work to creep into every aspect of your life

7 Myth or Reality? Industry pays more I’m not convinced – this tends to depend on: a)The employment market, skills shortages/surpluses, etc b)The knowledge market relative to your discipline and specialisation c)Salaried versus specialist contract/consultancy work d)How well you can sell yourself and your skills

8 Myth or Reality? Academia provides more room for intellectual autonomy Intellectual autonomy is one of the key reasons why many choose to pursue academic careers. The tide may be changing, however, as universities become more geared to industry-driven research and commercialisation opportunities.

9 Myth or Reality? Industry is more practical Industry is oriented to achieving practical outcomes in the short-term while academic work tends to have a long-term view

10 Myth or Reality? The only people in academia are those who can’t make it in industry and Industry-based professionals do not have the same level of insight into complex problems as academics Load of rubbish!

11 So what’s the main difference? CULTURE!

12 Academia…  ‘slower’, casual & flexible atmosphere  intellectual autonomy  greater freedom in determining your job role & tasks  disagreeing with the boss or the university’s ‘corporate line’ is considered par for the course BUT…

13  Can spread you too thin – teaching, research, publishing, service  Can experience frustration because ‘impact’ is not immediate  Ability to pursue research opportunities is frequently dependent on funding  Flexibility can turn into the flexibility to work more

14 So what can you do to prepare yourself? Whether you are headed for academia or industry, there are a range of opportunities you can take now (in academia) to prepare yourself Taking a strategic approach to what opportunities you take and when you take them is important

15 What to do?  Identify the kinds of generic capabilities that will help you secure your desired position  Identify the key things you will need to say on your CV to demonstrate that you have these core skills  Identify the people, networks and places that you need to be linked in with to get the opportunities you need

16 What counts on your CV  Qualifications  This is why you shouldn’t sacrifice your PhD for the sake of other ‘opportunities’  Short courses useful additions  Awards  Scholarships, etc.  Top-up scholarships from industry and institutes  Many conferences have an award for the best post- grad paper

17 Research and Consulting Any experience counts – usually begins with casual or contract work as a research assistant  RA Work is usually secured via word of mouth  Identify some key researchers in your faculty and let them know you are looking… then keep reminding (presence is everything)  About a month before ARCs and NHMRCs are due is a good time to give reminders!  Don’t be too picky to begin – use the opportunity to prove yourself and get ‘in the loop’  Remember that an Early Career Researcher is not expected to have bucket-loads of experience

18 Research cont… If you are headed for academia, the long-term goal is to become a Chief Investigator, Post- doc or Research Associate (you can create your own job!) In terms of how your CV is read/evaluated by others, the things that typically count include:  topic investigated (obviously contextual)  Size of the project (frequently judged by $$)  Funding Body (Industry, ARC, NHMRC, etc)  Who else is on the grant (track record, disciplines, expertise)

19 Research and Generic capabilities…  You often don’t highlight these kinds of generic capabilities on your CV, however they are important and can be learned through research experience:  How to design a project  How to develop a budget  How to manage a project  How to secure/sell a project (get money!)  How to sell yourself

20 Teaching  Tutoring & Marking, lecturing and unit co-ordination  Warning: teaching is time consuming – students often don’t respect the fact that you have work other than them  If you want to get lecturing experience ask to do a guest lecture  TIP 1: Teaching in the same subject once is often as good as teaching it year after year  TIP 2: Try to secure teaching work in the same area as your PhD (or partner up with an academic to develop a new unit)  Teaching in academia sets you up well for private industry training opportunities

21 Publications  Refereed (peer reviewed) publications are the only ones that have considerable weight on an academic CV  Can use your PhD as a basis for publications (either by thesis-by-publication or publish as you go)  Can turn around research reports into publications (the CI’s will love you)  If hired to write a publication, make sure you are clear on whether you will be an author and order of authorship  In the long-run the aim is to have your work published in ‘high quality’ journals (if academia is your goal) or industry publications (if industry is your goal)

22 Networks are the key  Start with your supervisors  Don’t be afraid to contact other academics to discuss opportunities  Ask around at the relevant research institutes (ISR, ICII, IHBI,ISI), cooperative research centres and research centres  Be flexible (but not at the expense of your PhD)  Be VISIBLE!!


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