Focus. Discipline. Passion. Those were the 3 traits highlighted as crucial to construct a worthwhile career in academia through Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, all through her address to University of Cape Town (UCT) postgraduate students.
From across the college, the college students amassed within the Baxter Theatre’s Concert Hall on Saturday, three August to listen to Phakeng proportion wisdom and insights from her personal career.
She took a warm, mild-hearted approach to a topic that frequently weighs closely at the shoulders of aspirant academics, and her target audience responded with laughter and pleasure.
Many grabbed the opportunity to invite a few heartfelt questions – from how to cope with negativity and grievance, to know whether or not to pursue further research abroad or plow know-how returned into the area people.
Some had long passed the proverbial more mile to wait for this special lecture.
Able Benson Lungu, finishing his MSc in task management, was this journeying all of the ways from Mafikeng in North West for the weekend.
“It’s exciting to have any such passionate vice-chancellor who enjoys being attractive and interacting with college students,” Lungu stated.
“She’s an excellent orator, and I love to pay attention to her speeches online. I discover her to be very inspiring and relatable. So, once I heard this lecture became occurring, I made a factor to attend.”
Career versus task
Phakeng started her lecture by advising the scholars at the price of making a clear differentiation between their profession and the various positions in which they’ll discover themselves working during their lifetime.
“There is a massive distinction between a profession and an activity: A job is what you do for someone else. A career you do for yourself,” she stated.
“A profession is a whole lot bigger than your process. If you’re lucky, your job is a subset of your career.”
She delivered that it’s far useful to think about the two as current as concentric, intersecting, or maybe separate circles – as long as it’s viable to differentiate between them.
Having a clear vision of what students would love to acquire of their careers will help them make a number of their most critical lifestyle choices: which possibilities to accept, which to turn down, and for what they ought to sacrifice their very own assets.
“At the instant, I’m Vice-Chancellor. It’s a 5-year contract. In my view, this is my activity,” Phakeng said.
“But my dream changed into now not to be a VC. It turned into to be the top education in my area. That’s my profession.”
Your profession is your business.
Once they have got mapped out what they’d like their career to appear like, the difficult work begins, she advised her target audience.
“If you move into academia, don’t anticipate this stuff to be organized with the aid of someone else,” she warned.
“If you’re going to have a career, it’s your enterprise. You take the fee of it, and you need to be the only one doing the paintings.”
Phakeng added that even as academia requires long hours and lots of multitasking – dividing time among teaching, studies, management, and many others – it is also one of the maximum profitable careers for everybody with a curious mind.
“Here, we’ve got an open area of thoughts. For me, that became the enchantment to academia: being able to pursue the questions which you are passionate about and [which] are of precise significance to society.”
Setting essential benchmarks
Measuring private development – or lack thereof – is of the maximum importance in carving out a hit profession. To do that, she said, every younger instructional needs to have a fixed of private benchmarks.
She indexed the following as the benchmarks she used to a degree her own growth:
Achieving a PhD.
Getting published in superb journals.
Successfully applying for studies presents.
Supervising masterʼs and PhD college students.
Affecting network, training, and improvement.
Invitations to give a keynote or plenary lectures.
She emphasized that each younger academic’s set of benchmarks must be crafted in line with their non-public career desires instead of being informed or limited through any out-of-door expectancies.
She brought that many humans would include receiving a name that includes “senior lecturer” or “professor” as a benchmark. However, because there is no familiar set of standards for bestowing these titles at universities, they can be misleading.
“Be positive to focus on benchmarks that aren’t depending on your group.”