As I explain in the ‘About’ section, I’m currently employed as a part-time, short-term researcher at a UK university. Although I feel privileged to have been offered this job at a time when many of my colleagues are struggling to find post-doctoral positions, in the recent months I have slowly come to realise that academia is not for me and that, once this contract ends, I will be departing the ivory tower forever. And I will ‘walk out’ holding my head up high as there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to pursue a career outside academia.
Very few know of my decision to depart academia, which is why I’m posting anonymously for the time being. There are two major reasons for doing so:
1. Leaving is mainly viewed as a failure in academic circles. The few times I have discussed the issue with colleagues I got the impression that leaving academia is generally viewed as a personal and intellectual failure, as if there were no other job alternatives for a PhD like myself besides aiming for a lectureship. I obviously disagree with this and will discuss in future posts why this mentality in academia needs to change if it wants to continue attracting postgrads in the coming years.
2. Colleagues will try to convince me to stay. Those whom I closest to in my Department, those who have become friends through the years, will be sad – I hope! – to see me leave and will try to persuade me to reconsider. They will do so because leaving academia means that, although we will continue to be friends, distance is likely to have an impact on our tie. Our discipline is one that requires us to spend long periods of time away from home so colleagues soon become second family; leaving would automatically break this bond. I also suspect that many would tell me to reconsider because they, too, have thought about leaving, but are scared to admit or do something about it.
I am under no illusion that my transition to the ‘real world’ will be a difficult one, but hopefully being able to prepare the move over the next 12 months will make it that less stressful and daunting. I’m excited to find out what this transition holds for me personally and professionally, and look forward to sharing this roller coaster ride with all of you.