Philippa’s Blog – 14 July 2014

On Success

So after months and months and months of continual grafting with little sense of progress, within five days at the end of June 2014 my life just fell into place. I was awarded my Ph.D. in my viva on Thursday 26th June and had an interview for my ideal research job on Monday 30th June, finding out that I had been unanimously selected for the position that very afternoon. Whilst I’m still waiting on HR to formalise everything re. the job, after these five intense and exhausting days two major things that I’d been working towards for months had been accomplished.

Obviously both of these things were brilliant news in their own right and I’m excited to finally be moving on with the next chapter of my life. If there’s a lesson in all of this sudden success, it is perhaps that achievements happen after you’ve put in the hard work (and perhaps endured the months and months of little apparent progress). In my job interview, I was fairly surprised by how smoothly it all went. I wasn’t ‘flummoxed’ by any of the questions and I had lots to say about everything they asked me. This was a contrast to a few previous interviews, where I’ve felt like I’ve been scrabbling around for answers at times and have had a few moments of panic.

In the car on the way home I was thinking that perhaps I’d just been lucky this time, but then it occurred to me that it might actually have been the cumulation of a lot of my hard work, the opportunities I’ve been given (and have taken), and the training I’ve participated in. Lots of thanks are therefore due to the people who’ve helped me along the way, including: the Manchester University School of Law Scholarship that funded my Ph.D.; my Ph.D. supervisors Jon Spencer and Jo Deakin; my brilliant Masters supervisor Mary Bosworth; the multiple Manchester Humanities training sessions that I’ve participated in (particularly the fabulous sessions on ‘Writing Proposals for Fellowships’); Emily McIntosh who was a wonderful coach, introduced me to planning and steered me through a point of Ph.D. crisis; Elizabeth Wilkinson who provided a very helpful mock interview in 2013 (even though I didn’t get that job); and Margot Brazier, who ran a Law training session on something like ‘Careers in Academia’ and posed the inspirational question ‘in an ideal word, blue sky thinking, where would your career be in three years time?’. So the lesson is therefore: go along to things, take opportunities and try. It might take AGES to work out, but opportunities and support ARE available to help you identify and subsequently achieve your goals. Now I just hope that I can fulfil the all goals I wrote in my ambitious three year research plan by 2017…..

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