Where am I now? – Where do I want to be? – How do I get there?
Working as a researcher under short-term contracts with short-term goals, it can be difficult to forge a long-term career path. Instability causes anxiety and can affect all aspects of our lives. But it is possible to minimize these issues by maintaining a vision of where you would like your future career to go. Creating a vision of your future is a simple process that can help make sure you are maximizing your potential within the confinements of a short-term contract.
First of all you need to make an honest assessment of where you are now: what skills and what achievements you have to date. Having a performance and development review is a good way for this to happen, since your supervisor is likely to be in the type of position you would potentially like to be in in the future. If not, you can do this yourself by asking:
1. What have I achieved so far? (e.g. publications, outreach, teaching, collaborations, grants – however small)
2. What skills do I have? (e.g. experimental, analytical, IT, supervisory)
3. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
See issue 17 of INCITE for a detailed article on how you can develop your long-term vision.