Building a portfolio academic career

This time of the year I am always contacted by the International Baccalaureate Organisation and the AQA examining board asking me if I’d like to do some summer marking for their history qualifications. This is a reminder of the days before I got my lectureship when I had to take on jobs like this in order to pay the bills. Today I want to look at how to use jobs like this to build a portfolio career.

In this blog and in many others, academics often comment on the problems associated with the increase in temporary and part time working (adjuncts in the US). While this way of working suits some people, many members of academic staff undertake these jobs because they are trying to find a permanent position and such jobs are seen as a step on the ladder.

Scholars will be stuck in these jobs for years not months as the level of hiring is increasingly uncertain because of the changing economic fortunes of universities. So, by doing jobs such as A level or Baccalaureate exam marking it is possible to earn some much needed cash and to enhance your CV.

Exam marking is intense and an acquired skill, so it will require a real commitment on your part. However, it is fairly lucrative but also gives you a real insight into the education system outside the university sector. It shows you the stage of learning your students go through before they reach you. It can help you to see the common pitfalls students fall into, and the skills that they have and that they need when they get to university. So pedagogically, making school exams can have a real benefit and enhance your own performance as a university teacher. Not bad for a job taken to make a bit of spare cash!


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.

One Response to Building a portfolio academic career

  1. Belle says:

    That’s the best answer by far! Thanks for cobrginutint.

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