I have always felt very lucky on the journey that I am experiencing as part of my university career. Though I have prided myself on working hard and being committed to my university – I strongly believe that luck (or timing) has always played an important role in success.
One of the things I have always felt humbled by, is the many amazing collaborators that I have worked with. My latest collaboration is with a group of educators from different universities and very different career journeys researching university careers – with a focus on learning and teaching.
In our paper, titled ‘Research into the diversification of university careers in learning and teaching and intentionally closing-the-loop on graduate employability‘, we reflect on universities as a source of employment as well as a mechanism for developing employable graduates. In the research, we were interested in understanding what learning and teaching careers look like at universities, and whether there are occupational patterns, satisfactions and concerns of the staff in those careers.
It was an interesting exercise as we employed an auto-ethnographic methodology based on the experience of the five authors. In so doing, we shared, compared and contrasted our own experiences. This was complimented by a review of six months of university employment vacancies from two large Australian universities.
What did we find? Here are three high level insights:
- The first is that no matter how successful our careers seem from an objective perspective, each of us feels like an outsider – an imposter. This was partially related to our haphazard career trajectories;
- Secondly, we recognise that universities need to intentionally enhance the employability of graduates who pursue learning and teaching positions within our sector; and,
- Thirdly, we, as scholars with a focus on teaching and learning (even those of us placed within the ‘research division’), must be prepared to expand our focus towards roles that may not always be our first priority.
Pursuing a career as an educator is an incredible privilege – especially at an Australian university. However, it is not a career without challenges, particularly when our sector is being disrupted and there are an increasing amount of demands on us. These challenges are most profoundly being felt by the casualised workforce who are often in precarious positions of employment.
As we deal with the changes, we must continue to build structures to support the journeys of the next generations of scholars – and work to find ways to deal with the precariousness that has come to characterise our sector.
The full paper is available to download here: https://doi.org/10.21153/jtlge2019vol10no1art786 – and I would like to acknowledge the efforts of my collaborators: Madelaine-Marie Judd, Shelley Kinash, Trina Jorre de st Jorre and Trish McCluskey.