I built my networking skills and it helped me land my first job after the Ph.D.
I completed my studies in June 2015 with great buzz and fanfare. As the euphoria of my accomplishment gradually wore off, a new reality set in; “you need to get a job or start a business” – just do something.
It was during one of those frantic brainwave moments that Stylish Academic was born.
Endless workshops and pep talks hardly prepared me for this reality, though they did build my skills in various areas.
I have since learned that the job search period is unique to everyone.
This is because your job or enterprise of the future is partly a result of the networks and collaborations you invest in today. The certificate(s) and super CV are great, but your networks matter a great deal.
Here is how my network helped me land my first job after I passed my Ph.D. viva:
They alerted me to vacancies
The moment I was in the market for a job, I spread the word within my network. Every professor I had interacted with, every colleague already working at a university, and every friend in the commercial sector knew of my plight. Many times, I got signposted to jobs I had already applied for, but I complained not. What mattered to me was that they had me in mind and were genuinely on the lookout. This was calming.
My network coached me
Senior colleagues coached me – over coffee, over Skype, via email, I got help. I was willing to learn, and they were willing to share. It was not enough to have a great CV and a few publications, I needed the know-how that could only come from someone who had walked ahead of me and conquered.
My network encouraged me
I have heard tales of terrible supervisors. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say they are a myth because all the academic supervisors I’ve ever had from my undergraduate days to date, have been awesome and supportive.
My Ph.D. supervisor encouraged me. I had graduated from the university, but he was still looking out for my career progress. He introduced me to anyone that mattered in the sector, and I kept him abreast of my journey. That support was inestimable. To be regularly encouraged when looking for a job is a beautiful thing.
They were the second pair of eyes – CV & Supporting Statements
After applying for numerous jobs in the space of a short time, one’s creative juices might start to stagnate. You fall into the rote of writing supporting statements that you don’t realise when you are not giving the one before you, your best shot. At this point, you need someone who is experienced and willing enough to give you a read-through.
You would already know that people working in academia are extremely busy, so it’s no mean feat to find someone willing to read your write-up. This is where networks matter. Because you are not just another Ph.D. researcher, but someone with whom colleagues have developed a meaningful professional relationship with, it is a lot easier to curry this favour.
It is important to collaborate with people and build a strong network in the process.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that it involves as much of the giving as the receiving. This means that building meaningful networks is an investment – especially of your time. But the returns on this investment? Even Madoff would doff his hat.
You may also find these interesting…
Networking is still the best way to find a job – Forbes
Networking made easy in 5 dos – Stylish Academic
How to get employed after the Ph.D. – Jennifer Polk
Top Twitter chat tips for Academics – Dennis Relojo
How to improve your CV on your Ph.D. – Furaha Asani