Friday, October 5, 2012

Things I have learnt about surviving in the post-academic workplace

1. Don't be shy. Say hello to everyone, no matter who. Being shy will only make people think you should be avoided.

2. You don't have to try so hard. Sure, you need to pass your probation period, but generally speaking, NOTHING you do is going to require the work ethic that surviving adjunct-land requires.

3. Learn how to make small talk. Academics are notoriously bad at this (in my experience anyway!).

4. You don't have to pay attention to what EVERYONE is saying. This will be especially useful in meetings. Unlike class, you don't have to worry about supporting and encouraging everyone in the room.

5. Prepare for meetings in advance. Know what you want to acheive before going into a room and you will be ten steps ahead of everyone else. This is somewhat like class and a good skill that post-academics already have.

6. Learn when less is more. Another thing academics are bad at. Sometimes, it really doesn't matter if someone is talking a pile of crap. Let them carry on.

7. Pick your battles. You are now working with an entire organisation. You are not solely responsible for everything that happens (ok, maybe if you run a small business you are).

8. Don't get involved in workplace politics. Who cares if one department isn't talking to another because of something that happend ten years ago? Don't play those games. They're not helpful to anyone.

9. Develop a poker face. If someone throws a curve ball at you or is stamping their little feet over something, stay calm and focus on the task at hand.

10. You don't have to eat ALL the free food.


  1. Great tips! I already recognise some of what you're saying here in my new job. In particular, I like the last point, number ten. Establishing a good poker face means you can at least look like you're in control.

  2. Oh dear yes! Point #2 only clicked for when I passed my first performance review. "Your professional achievements this year were really above and beyond our expectations for your position, BUT I'm really sorry. I just can't convince management that you deserve a bonus in these tough financial times." Then get reprimanded for not using my annual leave.

    And goodness, #3 can be tough! How to engage when colleagues talk at great length about packing school lunches etc on a daily basis? Academia has instilled within me a fear of motherhood, or more specifically, the gaping hole it can leave in one's list of publications. I just don't know what to say in these conversations!

  3. I am also finding that number 6 "less is more" applies to putting in effort! I find I can accomplish a lot more than my colleagues in less time. If you're not at a job where you care a ton, then definitely use this to your benefit and put in less time/energy/effort! :)

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