Apologies for the inactivity, but i’ve been spending all of my time finishing off my Graduate Certificate in Research Commercialisation and doing a Latin unit at the same time. Sum fessus! But as of last night, I am pleased to announce to myself and anyone else out there on the interwebs who may be reading, that it’s over! The topic of this post, as promised, is a reflection on what I think i’ve learned from doing this graduate certificate. This is a hindsight exercise, and includes a large amount of reflection on what I have learned about myself. So here goes, as a list (I am something of a list tragic, so you will have to forgive me).
- I can multitask – This may sound trite, but I never considered myself the organised type. In fact, I am quite convinced that I wasn’t the organised type. I probably spent my whole senior school and bachelor’s degree floating around grazing the rich pastures of knowledge, but without any idea of where I was going. In this graduate certificate, I had to submit at least three major assessments a week for the last five weeks or so, keep studying my Latin, juggle my other commitments, and although I felt the strain at times, I actually enjoyed it! So yes, I can multitask, and this is something of a revelation for me. An empowering one for a PhD student, I think.
- I can use what i’ve learned – I have found some really strange ways of using what i’ve learned in this graduate certificate. For example, I have started coming up with some new ideas about the Philosophy of Water from reading sustainability theory, and have come up with some nice influences for my theory chapter. It isn’t where you take it from, after all, but where you take it to!
- You can’t escape pitching your ideas, so be good at it – these days, one has to learn how to present a value proposition for research to a bureaucrat, even if we believe that art has no enemies save ignorance. I recently discovered that even my local faculty has to present a business plan to the university, so it has infiltrated even my corner of academia. You know your discipline and are proud of it, so why not learn how to make people who don’t value it on their terms? To my mind, it is possible to keep ‘the man’ happy, which then gives you the resources to keep yourself and your colleagues happy.
- I am proud of my discipline – this sounds odd, but I didn’t really have a clear idea of what made my discipline unique until I moved outside it. The risk of staying in your own discipline is that you are subjected to an ‘echo chamber’, a space of homophily in which everyone agrees with you on the fundamental issues. By comparing and contrasting your discipline with others you can know, and be proud of, what you do in a whole new way.
- Graduate Certificates and other smaller qualifications are useful and fun – I think that I perhaps viewed them with some disdain in the past, but I really enjoyed doing this little taste of a different set of skills. I may have to do it again in the future!
I think that I will cut off my musings right there. If there is anything that I would like my readers to learn from my experience overall, it is that one should have the courage to apply for things that sound interesting even if it seems like a long shot. Everyone else who saw the call to apply for this course in my discipline dismissed it as something ‘not for Humanities students’, but I discovered once I joined that the course coordinators were very keen for people from all disciplines to apply, and the coursework was explicitly structured to make it applicable to all researchers. So give it a try, whatever it is! You may be surprised at what comes out of your decision.