The Newbie Academic: lessons I have learned in transitioning from post-doc to academic

Dr Lezanne Ooi shares with Franklin Women her journey from post-doctoral researcher to academic, and the tips she has picked up along the way. You can connect with Lezanne on Twitter: @NeuralOoi 

Having recently gained my first ever permanent job as an academic in a Science Faculty (at the University of Wollongong) I’ve been reflecting on some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

As a PhD student and post-doc I remember the moments of terror associated with considering a life of short-term contracts and the unease of wondering if I would be able to do this wonderful job of science forever. After finishing my PhD I seriously considered exiting the world of research for a permanent job in management consultancy. Not because I had lost my drive and passion for science but because I doubted myself and my abilities and I didn’t know if I could make it as an academic.

I chose to keep going, to keep chasing the dream and I’m glad that I did. Looking back I think there are many essential traits required for a life in academia that my research training didn’t prepare me for (as well as many that did!). These lessons had to be learned quickly whilst migrating towards the position of principal investigator. The following are some of the aspects that, on reflection, I now consider pivotal in my career and I hope that sharing will help other early career researchers. More...