The virtues of planning ahead!

This week I have been working on my career plan for the next year, five years and ten years! This might sound a pointless exercise but I have been thinking about how useful this is and would recommend it to all, whether you’re just starting out in your career or are more established.

REF planning.

My head of department has already asked me and my colleagues to provide information on our proposed publications between now and 2012 and to highlight which pieces we think will go forward to the submission. And this is before we even know the final format of the REF (hinging on the issue of ‘impact’) or the number of publications each scholar will be required to submit.

Thinking ahead and making long term career plans can help with tasks like this. When I had written down on paper what I hoped to do in the next 2 years I was astonished at how productive I am going to be! I was also a little daunted, knowing that I will have to really push myself in order to achieve my publication goals. But at least having this aims defined allowed me to judge what is possible and what is too over ambitious.

Personal Development.

The REF is not the only reason for a scholar to indulge in career planning. If you hold a university post, no doubt you will be encouraged to take part in a staff development exercise at some point. This involves outlining your career aims for the next year in all areas of your work: research, publications, admin and teaching.  You should also have the opportunity to discuss issues such as promotion prospects as well.  It is important to go into these meetings well prepared so this is another reason to plan ahead and work out what it is you want to achieve over the coming year.


About Catherine Armstrong

Dr Catherine Armstrong is a Senior Lecturer in History at Manchester Metropolitan University, specialising in North American History. She is a former teaching fellow in History at the University of Warwick and Oxford Brookes University. Catherine was also Director of Historical Studies in the Open Studies department at the University of Warwick. Her first book ‘Writing North America in the Seventeenth Century’ was published by Ashgate in June 2007. As a long-time jobseeker for an academic role herself, Catherine is in a unique position to understand and offer her knowledge and experience to those developing an academic career.

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