A reflection on 2018 and prognosis for 2019

It’s that time of year really. You start to think about the shape of the year to come, are somewhat resolved (resigned) with how the previous year has finished, and there has been a precious window for recuperating. I found myself looking at forecasts for 2019 and thought that I would write up what I already know is mine, change. This is not surprising when thinking about how 2018 ended professionally.

Reflecting on last year, I have seen out my second year at Deakin and gained immense experience working within a School and assisting (I hope) in the redevelopment of a masters program. My contract was literally to act as a safe pair of hands during a period of transition. This links to my perception that my job niche is as “the wolf” aka the fixer who comes in, removes the dead bodies and puts things on track. In academia, it shouldn’t be surprising that this movie character is so apt.

I’m very grateful for the two years of accelerated learning, teaching experience and so forth. However as I hit the third and final year, I can already see that I need the time and space to publish, wrap up the research not done & build new collaborations. I know that doing so will bring me my next professional steps.

While I’ve worked hard to do what I do, there has been little sense of being valued or supported for this. The contract I am on is a stripped back version that limits reciprocity from the school I work in in some very real and disadvantageous ways. After having applied for a continuing position in the school during 2018, I already know that I’m not considered a “fit”, and the feeling has become mutual.

At the end of 2018, when burnt out and exhausted, the terms of my job scope were changed without consultation. I am now in a teaching intensive position, that I did not apply for or sign on the dotted line for. This opportunity serves very little advantage for me. Yes, a salary is awesome, but there will be limited time for me to publish and progress my research.

Whilst money in the short term is attractive, I know that doing this work without seeking alternatives will limit me at a pivotal time when I am ready to expand. So, change, destabilisation and risk/opportunity it is for 2019. I’ve done it before and that has gotten me this far. So it can’t be all bad. Amidst a disheartening throng of academic “quit lit.”, and “belt tightening” discourse within the university sector, I wonder what my options for 2019 will be.

And so I turn once again to the consultancy concept. Being a digital social thinker, I’ll need to be entrepreneurial in how to position myself. The one thing I know is that the phenomena I study are very relevant across many sectors. Being a professional writer and creative thinker is also an asset. I’ve got this far on my professional journey and know I’ll work things out. But what to call my consultancy?!

So many unanswered questions that move between the high points and low points of 2018. Heading to several conferences and connecting with my fantastic peers has truly been inspirational. Working with my students and seeing them integrate and translate knowledge into their own practices has been very rewarding. Writing and building collaborations around my area of research into the digital frontier has been fascinating and encouraging. Grinding through challenging aspects of my profession has been”character-building”. On that front, I’m glad and lucky that academia has not been my only career and that I have many resources, people and skill sets to draw on to keep the wheels from falling off. Stress management, life skills and good friendships have been very important for me in 2018. In 2019 I hope to see all that personal support good people in my life have shown me move from holding practices to something more constructive and celebratory.

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