I recently wrote about my personal career story for AcademicTransfer. Writing advice, and looking back at my journey, is always a bit tricky.
But I realized that the most important reason why I’m still at TU Delft, and am tenured there as an assistant professor, is that I had all the support from my colleagues. As such, I recommended the readers to focus on their personal relationships.
“But Eva”, you may say, “shouldn’t I be productive instead, and spend my time writing papers and grant proposals?”. Well, you need those papers and funding in the first place. But once you’ve passed the barrier of a certain level, what matters is your network.
In my exceptional case of trying to move along the tenure track on a part-time position and living in a different country, I need others to defend me in the System. The support of my colleagues, and the fact that they consider me part of the group, is what makes me love my position in Delft so much, as well as what helped me get tenure.
So, remember that people are always a good use of your time. Build strong relationships with your colleagues and your peers.
During your PhD, you will need your peers so that you don’t get isolated. If you get along well with your labmates, get to hang out for a beer on a sunny afternoon, or can turn to them for advice and consolation in difficult situations, you will feel much more supported.
You may feel bogged down by deadlines, but remember to make a priority of the “important but not urgent” task of building relationships with others. So find the time to grab a coffee with your colleagues and to go for lunch – it will make your experience so much more pleasant.