HDR Career Conversations

Supporting research student career development and employability at UOW

August 3, 2020
by whitneys

Missing the Monkey: The Post-PhD Blues

Intro: I have known Dr. Conor West, as a HDR student, a project collaborator and now we are lucky to have her as a UOW colleague at Learning, Teaching and Curriculum.  I love this honest account of her experience and feelings when finishing her PhD and working out what to do next. I think most readers will relate in some way…

Like many of us, the doctoral-shaped monkey on my back seemed to gain weight as the years of my PhD passed by. By the end, it was only my innate stubbornness and fear of disappointing others that kept us together.

I spent much of those four years riding waves of passionate curiosity and troughs of seething disappointment. Not that it mattered, as regardless of how I was feeling, my monkey always required something from me. Time away from it filled me with guilt. I convinced myself that a break could wait until the tables had been re-formatted, a new article annotated, or the next page of feedback was applied. Life happened in the space it left; I always gave my monkey the attention it screamed for. Until, unceremoniously, my monkey was gone.

Photo by MESSALA CIULLA from Pexels (license)

It was an ordinary Tuesday, working alone from home when I realised the monkey had run out of tasks to throw at me. I had suddenly found myself looking at a submit button, with my full dissertation attached to the box above it. I clicked submit almost as a reflex, akin to accepting terms and conditions. I messaged family and friends and posted about my almost-completion. In silence, I got up to wash the dishes and heard the ping of an automatic email from HDR administration with their congratulations and estimates for examiner feedback. It was all very underwhelming, as I knew my monkey would be back.  Continue Reading →

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November 1, 2018
by saryan
1 Comment

Exploring your research career – 15 minutes at a time

Introduction: Exploring your future career options can seem like just another item to add to your long list of research tasks – it might be tempting to procrastinate and put it to the bottom of the list. Corinne Green, a PhD researcher in Education and a current student of ‘Career Ready Learning for Higher Degree Research Students’, shows us it doesn’t have to be overly time consuming, by using research career podcasts, one of which she reviews below.  


How much time do you spend thinking about your future career? Maybe it is something that plagues your mind constantly, or something you would rather not think about, or perhaps something you have not yet considered. Whatever stage of your studies you are up to, it can be valuable to consider what is coming next and how you are going to get there.

Earlier this year the ‘15 Minutes to Develop Your Research Career’ podcast Continue Reading →

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June 27, 2018
by saryan
1 Comment

Beyond research: essential skills you learn in the PhD

Guest post by Dr. Katharina Freund

Introduction:  There are an increasing number of opportunities for Higher Degree Research graduates to use their skills and understanding of Higher Education and research to work across a range of professional units in Universities.  I’m delighted to have an input from Dr. Katharina Freund, UOW Digital Media and Communications PhD graduate and Senior Learning Designer at ANU to give us a thorough overview of how valuable her research skills and training have been to her career.  Over to you, Katie…


While I was completing my PhD study at UOW in Media & Communications, I was sure I was going to become an academic. Absolutely positive. I was working as a casual tutor at the time, and the course I was teaching in required me to join Twitter. It was through Twitter that I became exposed to many of the broader issues in higher education: an increasingly casualised workforce, limited research positions, precarious working conditions. I saw many friends and colleagues struggling to balance family life with contract work and publication deadlines. I read a lot of what is commonly called “quit lit”, and was inspired by alt-ac (or alternative academic) career paths. Very rapidly I realised that what I wanted, more than being a researcher, was job stability. And that I would have to look beyond the confines of academic positions to find it. Continue Reading →

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