Where and what is your current position?
I work at the University of Bristol as a Senior Teaching Fellow in the School of Experimental Psychology. My main responsibilities lie in teaching and administration.
Is your current career path as you originally intended?
I have ended up doing more teaching and administration (relative to research) than I had anticipated, but this aligns well with my strengths.
How does this job relate to your graduate degree?
I teach social psychology and research methods, which are directly related to the knowledge and skills I gained in graduate school. I also maintain a research program, which can be traced back to the research that I conducted for my MA and PhD at UBC.
What motivated you to pursue graduate work at UBC?
I was drawn to the quality of the university and faculty at UBC, as well as the city of Vancouver. The supervision I received (from Mark Schaller) was pivotal in launching my career.
What did you enjoy the most about your time as a graduate student at UBC?
We had a close-knit community of graduate students in my department, and I enjoyed spending time with my fellow students.
What are key things you did that contributed to your success?
I made sure to pace myself and to keep moving forward, even when progress seemed slow and incremental. I put a lot of effort into acquiring the skills (e.g., research methods, statistics, writing) that would launch and sustain my academic career.
What is your best piece of advice for current graduate students preparing for their future careers?
Learn to write well.
How did you find out about/obtain your current position?
I found my current position through an online advertisement. I was acquainted with one of the faculty members here, which may have helped (networking is important).
What challenges did you face in your graduate degree, or in launching your career?
During my graduate studies, the biggest challenge was obtaining external funding. It wasn't about the money (because there were alternative internal sources of funding), but the external recognition is important, and I never succeeded in getting it. Upon completing my PhD, I couldn't find an academic job in Canada, so I broadened my search, and I ended up in Europe (first in the Netherlands and now in the UK). So my life took a big turn, but this has worked out well, personally and professionally.
How are jobs normally posted and filled in your organization or industry?
Links to online advertisements are often disseminated via websites and even social media, so there can be benefits to staying on top of Facebook and Twitter. For a given position, a handful of candidates are invited for job interviews, where they usually have to give a short talk. Making a good impression during the talk and the interview is obviously important.
What do you like and what do you find challenging about your current position?
Academics essentially come up with their own curricula and need to update them every year, which is both fun and challenging. More generally, I really enjoy working for a university. It's impressive that such a large institution with thousands of people operates relatively smoothly year after year. Some administrative duties require learning lots of things about the university's processes in a short span of time, which can be challenging. So even though my job may appear the same over time, I am often doing very different things from one year to the next.