University of Sussex
Our annual MeCCSA Postgraduate Network conference took place in July at the University of East Anglia. The focus of the conference was on the future career prospects for postgraduate researchers. At a time of transformation in Higher Education, many postgraduate researchers are concerned about the prospects of an academic career. The UEA conference committee hosted a programme of papers; roundtables and training that inspired us to innovatively think about building our career prospects.
Often the dominant advice to postgraduate researchers hoping to pursue a career in academia is to ‘publish early, and often’. However, the conference had a refreshingly positive outlook that focussed on different ways that we can develop skills and build upon experiences that will prepare us for what is likely to be a challenging job market.
The opening plenary ‘From postgraduate to professional: the transition’ initiated discussions around constructing your own academic trajectory and how we may incorporate additional experiences outside of academic institutions into our academic narratives. The conference included training on the power relationships in interviews, working with archives, teaching and engaging the media and creative industries. The conference also explored alternative modes of presenting work, for example ‘speed-geeking’ and ‘lightning talks’ where researchers had to stay focussed and make their arguments in 6-minutes!
Natalie Fenton closed the conference with her keynote on ‘The Neo-liberal University, Media Studies, Marketisation and You’. Fenton’s keynote was a call for collective action, for strong research to be conducted that challenges the neo-liberal agenda both inside and outside academia.
During the conference a new committee was elected for the academic year of 2013/2014. We would like to thank the UEA conference committee for hosting an excellent conference that has inspired many of our plans for the postgraduate network. In particular, we have now launched a MeCCSA Postgraduate Rep Scheme. Postgraduate Network Reps will be a point of contact for postgraduate researchers at their universities. During the conference, there was a request for more opportunities to network in person. So this year we hope to implement more regional events for network members to engage in current debates, participate in training and build stronger working relationships with network members. If you would like to be more involved in the MeCCSA PGN, for example as a PGN rep for your institution, please do get in touch with Emma Duester, our Outreach Officer (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank our predecessors for their work on the network. We wish Ruth Sanz Sabido, Xuelian Jin, Patrick Bingham, David Smith, Adam Scales and Matthew Freeman all the best in their future endeavours.