Postgraduate study is a glorious yet arduous path to take in life, particularly if you expect it to provide a career for you. Hard work, determination, grit, being adaptable, and a bit of luck finding the right 'fit' (for you and employer), among other things, are how you might get a foot in the door. I find not keeping count of rejections and non-responses to job applications helps too. (If you feel like a loser, I don't see the point in quantifying it, just tell yourself there's one less thing to worry about and find out how to improve your chances on the next one.) I am pleased to say that after a year and a half of applying for postdoc and teaching posts, I am about to begin a five-month full-time teaching fellowship in Film and Visual Culture with the University of Aberdeen, and am massively excited about it. I know it will be tough for a lot of reasons, but every module I'm teaching on chimes with my interests - research and beyond - plus I'm vamping up the module I designed under my PhD supervisor's guidance for @QueensUBelfast last year into an Honours course on Cinema and the American Avant-garde. Expect many tweets to come on that.
It'll be a busy five/six months. Having to suddenly organize an unanticipated and welcome success (at my first ever academic job interview that I thought I'd tanked, by the way), I've lost time I'd planned to spend on the book project (Old Borders, New Technologies: Reframing Film and Visual Culture in Contemporary Northern Ireland). Admittedly I have used my natural ability for 'faffing about' trying to organize myself as a lame excuse to not knuckle down. But you know what, last Christmas season - the month I graduated with my PhD - I was working in a supermarket and furiously putting an article together for publication. While working on the thesis in previous years, I sneaked away on Christmas day to do some editing and throw in the odd paragraph. Again, 2012 was a relentlessly nasty year until November, including falling quite ill for about 6 weeks in September/October without a day off between teaching and working in a shop. This past week I've caught up on much needed rest. As I would advise anyone in such a quandary, your work is no good if you're so tired and down you forget who you are, or worse, don't care any more. A new start in a new place will stir new energy. No excuses, just get it all done. Career opportunities do not come to those who wait, we have to put ourselves out there and convince others they need what we have to offer, and have a portfolio of convincing evidence to prove it.
Challenges for 2013
- Channel all of the teaching skills picked up at Queen's into a blinding semester at Aberdeen.
- Re-negotiate the book contract to a more appropriate time-frame bearing in mind increased work load and REF implications.
- January-June must be a time of diligent work, and broadening my cooking repertoire.
- Apply for jobs with more confidence and fervour.
- Deliver 2 conference papers at Queen's in April:
- Contemporary Gendered Performance & Practice
- Cites of Memory: Performing and Media Arts in the Post-Conflict City
- Enjoy the new adventure.