This is a story about how NerdIt got started, so unfortunately my first post will be about myself (ill-advisable according to the internet nerds), although, I think you could relate to it too. Hopefully by the end, you’ll find something useful to take away.
You should probably know that I’m living in Cyprus, home to less than a million in population, where the summers are endless and grueling, and winters are oddly cold for such high thermometer readings. And here I am, an almost thirty-year old just about to finish her PhD, already weighed down by the prospect of being unemployed in a few months. As I’m looking for jobs, the thought of working in retail again, or moving back into my parents’ place, makes my heart skip a beat. And not in a good way.
So, how does a soon-to-be new Dr. go about looking for a job in a tiny island in the far end of the Mediterranean? Jobs fitting your background may be limited, and jobs outside of academia are definitely not tailored to your skills set, but could be a nice challenge. Still, such a move could translate to kissing your academic career goodbye. Then, what’s left? Well, only a million other universities and research institutions spread across the globe. You only need to be prepared to become a nomad for a little while and leave this pale yellow-green dot you call home.
Truth is, if you’re absolutely determined to become a scholar, you have to remain flexible when it comes to job prospects. Staying in a different country for a few years to get the experience you need may be unavoidable, especially if the experience you’re after is highly specialized and could make you an expert in the field. But how cool does it sound? Travelling around, gathering knowledge, tools and contacts, and eventually returning home ready to hatch your own plans. But don’t just take my word for it, you can find plenty of true stories where travelling, in spite of its many challenges, is described as a rite of passage to a successful academic career, like this Global Jobs article on Nature.
To get back to the title of this post, after discovering that there are indeed a few postdoc jobs abroad that could suit my resume, came the realization that competition for one of them is lofty. One of these jobs shines through for me, and I do tick most of the boxes. There’s only two obstacles: a language barrier (thank you Duolingo) and a published sample of writing for a broader audience. Now, it’s August when I see this vacancy and I’ve been waiting on comments for a thesis chapter, two manuscripts and two unrelated projects (which, ironically, I opted for to keep busy during summer vacation), for a couple of months now. Eventually I realize things are not moving as quickly as I’d like them to, and there’s not enough time to write and print something in a newspaper or the likes.
And there is the origin story of this blog. I need to be as competitive as possible, and also, I’m bored out of my mind. They say that the simplest solutions are often the best, so instead of waiting around for possible publishers and raising my cortisol levels day after day up to the deadline for this vacancy, I filled in my empty hours by starting a blog. What’s more, by the time my prospective employers see this, there will be more than one writing sample to choose from. NerdIt is an experiment, which will hopefully help me land a job some day (I’ve already added WordPress to my CV), but also offer a platform for others wanting to experiment with this type of writing.
At the end of the day, if life doesn’t give you lemons on time, plant a lemon tree and get your own. It’s convenient to lay back and wait on others to act, but taking control of your own time and how you’re spending it, is much more satisfying. Trust me, I’m almost thirty.