Yesterday I finished my second chapter, which is the third chapter that I have finished (I don’t do linear). After submitting it was time for me to think about the next chapter, because that’s how things work. Luckily I have multiple chapters still to write, so I’m not out of work just yet, but, what is more, I also have another kind of chapter to start thinking about: the chapter that comes after finishing my PhD. What do I want to do next?
Last week I had a meeting with the PhD Careers Adviser, mainly because I was interested in what she would have to say about my open attitude towards both academe and ‘industry’. We have booked a follow-up appointment and I have some standard things to do, but the main message was: you have values and preferences. Preferences can be compromised on, values cannot. I really don’t mind working in either, as long as I can contribute to making a difference; whether that’s in a research centre at a university, or in the public sector. All I know is that I want to help people, and that my 3 years so far, thinking about and working on this project focusing on unemployment has made me realise there is so much to do in this field. These realisations have become part of my values. I don’t want to contribute to the status quo, nor do I want to be(come) a silent facilitator. I want an active job working with or in communities that need help.
So today I sent in an application, and I am excited! Even though I still have a few months to go on this Ph.D. I am excited to combine it with starting a new chapter if the right opportunity arises: as I said, I don’t do linear, and can work on multiple projects at the same time without compromising quality (as I have combined a year of my degree working 24 hours a week on weekdays while also doing a committee year for my student association). I enjoy the full schedule, it is something that I have missed a lot during my doctoral research working mainly from home, and that I am ready to pick up again.
All the things I encounter, including interesting job opportunities (even though not all of them are the right fit) teach me something about my project, and make me remember how important this project is. Not just to me, but hopefully for the community I have worked with as well. Dealing with their stories, and learning to get out their stories has been invaluable, and I would like to continue that long after I have handed in and defended my thesis, but would like to begin this in the last phase of this journey, as I feel (no, know!) I am ready for my next chapter. Chapter three of my thesis (which will be the fourth chapter) as well as the next chapter in my life. That is why I have just sent out an application for an amazing opportunity, with the bonus that it is in South Yorkshire, ‘my community’, my community that needs some new chances when it comes to employment.