Hosting a Workshop: Building a CV and Making Impact with Your Work

As part of my role as Research Officer at Swansea University, I’ve been asked to lead a workshop at the Sex Work Research Hub Postgraduate Research Conference 2019. I immediately said yes to the opportunity because I really want to support this conference. I presented at it twice (in 2017 and in 2018) and now feel able to help out those PhD and Master’s students who are where I was back in 2017.

I’m not entirely finished yet with my PhD, but I’ve managed to get myself a job after my funding ran out…and I’m in the middle of trying to find and apply for jobs for once my current fixed-term contract runs out in August. Given this, I think I’ve got some tips to give to people about CVs, and given that my current role is very ‘research impact’ focused, I feel I can say a few things about this as well. What’s quite nice about doing this workshop though is that I am also still a PhD student. This means I know about some of the barriers and benefits we have as PhD students in relation to having impact with our work, and I know what it is like to have to build a CV for a variety of different jobs for after your PhD.

With this workshop, I hope to encourage PhD students to think a little bit about what it is they want out of their CV and research, and to reflexively address some concerns and opportunities they may have. To do this, the workshop will be discursive, will involve lots of small group work, and will be a chance for all of us to learn from one another. I’ve been to a fair amount of postgraduate seminars where they try to tell you what impact is, and about how you have to do a billion different things to have a decent CV – I hope that this workshop will be different. Instead of telling students they need to work 60h a week to be able to pass their PhD in time (yes, I was actually told this by an academic once at an introduction to the PhD dissertation course attended mostly by 1st and 2nd year PhD students! It made me so so angry!)

But well, instead of doing that, I want to encourage people to think more carefully about the opportunities they say ‘yes’ to, and to not be afraid to say ‘no’. The academic job market is (very) competitive and you do need to go above and beyond to be part of that competition, but at the same time there’s not much you can do if you’re entirely burned out after your PhD. So take time, reflect on what you want out of your PhD, reflect on what you want out of the decisions you make to organise events or publish papers during your PhD, and then make an informed decision based on what you want to spend your time on – and this is coming from someone who did way too much during their PhD and really lost sight of what was important (mental health and balance) at the end of her first and beginning of her second year!

Enough about me though.

I’m not going to go into the details of what I’ll address on here, but for those who want to prepare for the workshop or who may have language or other accessibility needs for slide decks, you can download my slides here: CV+ImpactPresentation. I warn you though, I make a lot of use of phdcomics.com, fempower.tech #CHIversity zine pages, and a few other comic strips.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions about my slides. I tend to not put a lot of text on slides, so these might not make too much sense if you don’t attend the workshop. Please do let me know if you have any questions though, and I’ll try to get back to you with as much detail as possible! I’m probably best reached on Tiwtter @tripsandflips_