Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


APECS Panel Tromso 2016During the IGS Nordic Branch Meeting in Tromsø on the 27th of October, APECS Council member Vikram Goel organized an APECS Panel on Balancing work and personal life. It was an open discussion with questions and comments from the attending audience. The event was organized during the lunch break on the second day of the meeting. The panelists included -

  • Dr Alun Hubbard
  • Dr Miriam Jackson
  • Dr Ioanna Merkeraudi

It started with the panelists briefly sharing their career path, along with the developments in their personal life. The three panelists had taken different paths and made very different choices to reach their current stages. This made the discussion all the more interesting, and provided alternate viewpoints to the audience. The discussion touched many sub topics including - setting priorities in work/personal life, working in a different country, work politics and approaches to managing stress.

Some of the key take away points from the discussion are -

  • Different people have different priorities and needs. The work/life balance hence should be tailored to you, rather than following somebody else's path or rules. As most things you get better at it with experience. Also, one should re access their priorities/needs, periodically as they change with time.
  • You cannot say yes to everyone. Some things might pay off in long terms. Investing time in students is usually rewarding.
  • Get a lot of post-doc experience while you can and make most out of the freedom. Such position are well payed and there are not many side tasks.
  • Not get too involved in work politics. Learn to say no.
  • Think strategically about your future. Plan in advance.
  • Research is a flexible job. It provides much more freedom compared to other options. However, we should not get too flexible and let work take over your personal life.
  • Job market is very competitive. However, when in position to decide, pick your supervisor and work institute/country wisely. Consider other factors beyond research like compatibility with supervisor (investigate his nature), language, work-culture and society. Factors that are important to you. Give higher preference to working in Scandinavia over US/UK!
  • Join unions to keep track of your rights in terms of employment and you are aware what to expect from the employer. Specially when you are in a new country.
  • Communicate our personal stuff with our colleagues and don't shy from asking for help.
  • If you don't ask, you don't get.
  • Get rid of rules. Do not need to follow a specific trajectory, find what fits for yourself.
  • We have a tendency to stress on things, which are not that important. Sometimes we associate much more value to things than they actually deserve.
  • Life/death balance. Stay safe in the field. An extra risky kilometer to get that extra measurement may not be worth it.

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