VC’s pinnacle career pointers for postgrads

Focus. Discipline. Passion. Those were the three trends highlighted as important to constructing a worthwhile career in academia with the aid of Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng during her address to University of Cape Town (UCT) postgraduate college students at an event hosted via UCT’s Careers Service. The students from across the college accrued inside the Baxter Theatre’s Concert Hall on Saturday, August, to pay attention to Phakeng and share understanding and insights from her career.

She took a heat, light-hearted method to a topic that regularly weighs closely on the shoulders of aspirant academics, and her audience responded with laughter and delight. Many grabbed the possibility to invite a few heartfelt questions – from dealing with negativity and criticism to knowing whether to pursue further research abroad or plow information lower back into the local people. Some had long passed the proverbial more mile on attending this unique lecture.

Able Benson Lungu, finishing his MSc in mission control, has become this type of, traveling from Mafikeng to North West for the weekend. “It’s interesting to have one of these passionate vice-chancellors who enjoys engaging and interacting with students,” Lungu stated. “She’s a superb orator, and I like to listen to her speeches online. I find her to be very inspiring and relatable. So, after I heard this lecture became going on, I made a factor to attend.”

A career as opposed to the process

Phakeng began her lecture by advising the students on creating a clean differentiation among their careers and the numerous positions they will run at some stage in their lifetime. “There is a big difference between a profession and a process: A task is what you do for someone else. A career you do for yourself,” she said. “A career is lots bigger than your job. If you are lucky, your job is a subset of your profession.”


She introduced that it is beneficial to consider the two as existing 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 like to obtain in their careers will help them make a number of their maximum crucial life selections: which opportunities to accept, which to showdown, and for what they must sacrifice their assets. “At the moment, I’m Vice-Chancellor. It’s a five-yr agreement. In my view, this is my task,” Phakeng said. “But my dream turned into not to be a VC. It was to be the top academic in my subject. That’s my career.”

Your career is your commercial enterprise.

Once they have mapped out what they’d like their career to look like, the tough paintings begin, she instructed her target audience. “If you go into academia, don’t anticipate this stuff to be organized through someone else,” she warned. “If you’re going to have a career, it’s your business. You take pride in it and have to be the only one doing the work.” Phakeng brought up that while academia requires long hours and plenty of multitasking – the dividing time between teaching, research, management, and so forth – it’s also one of the most worthwhile careers for everyone with curious thoughts. “Here, we’ve got an open space for thought. For me, that changed into the appeal to academia: being able to pursue the questions you are obsessed with and [which] are of specific significance to society.”

Setting critical benchmarks

Measuring private development – or lack thereof – is paramount in discovering a successful profession. She stated that every younger academic ought to have a fixed personal benchmark to try this. She listed the subsequent as the benchmarks she used to a degree her very own increase:

Achieving a Ph.D.
Getting published in tremendous journals.
Successfully applying for research presents.
Supervising master and Ph.D. students.
Having an impact on community, training, and development.
Invitations to provide keynote or plenary lectures.
Research awards.

She emphasized that every young academic’s set of benchmarks should be crafted with their non-public career goals regarding being informed or restrained by any out-of-door expectancies. She delivered that many human beings could include receiving a title inclusive of “senior lecturer” or “professor” as a benchmark. However, considering there may be no widely widespread standards for bestowing these titles at universities, they could be misleading.

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