I did something I have not done in some time at a conference; I took notes by hand during the wonderful “Academic Career Development Workshop for Research Students and Early Career Academics” pre-conference session. I did not want to hear tap tap tap, nor did I want to have the possibility of multitasking, so I used a new notebook I bought during a recent holiday in Paris. The notebook is thick, solid leather with a great pad of unlined paper (though I often prefer graph paper with the boxes), though this is fine, thick paper that was a strange pleasure to write on. Reminds me, I owe somebody a physical letter . . .
The pre-conference sesion was organized by Marcus Foth, who could not attend at the last minute, and Jaz Hee-jeong Choi (who did a wonderful job facilitating the entire session). The 15 or so of us spent the entire day discussing our work, our interests, our questions, our concerns, and our best practices to help one another. An international bunch, I felt quite comfortable with them all after the first round of introductions when it became apparent that my concerns and worries and struggles were often shared by others.
There were other learners who are also considering academe as a second career. Teaching internationally means that the same terms are used, though often in very different ways. Funding is a persistent problem. The importance of building and fostering a network. Even the value of presenting at conferences and then expanding to publish. All valuable for us to know.
Overall, I got what I came for, in that I feel a little more informed and expect that my challenges are similar enough to other early career researcher that my confidence was bolstered. Kudos.