"I've had some interesting discussions with other former postdocs colleagues recently. They both come from a scientific background, transitioning from academic posts heavily focused on research and laboratory work. The shift to a non-academic post within the higher education environment was a significant change for them.
Similarly, my own journey led me to transition from an academic post to a Researcher Development role at a UK university. After a few months in my new position, I had the opportunity to reflect on what I missed and what I didn't. While I can still engage in research by delving into books, I do miss the dedicated time and headspace I had for research in my previous academic role.
My academic work centers around individual research with books, which allows me to maintain a personal connection with the material at my own pace – something I truly value. Writing and dedicating time to research are still within my control. If I need access to a rare book, I can simply take a day off and visit the library.
The change from my PhD to my first postdoc position was significant, especially considering the differences in education systems and expectations between Italy and the UK. Taking some time off between my PhD and postdoc allowed me to assess my true desires for an academic career and what I didn't want to compromise on.
As my postdoc journey concluded, I found myself open-minded about my next steps. I began exploring non-academic roles within universities, such as alumni fundraising, where I believed my communication skills could shine.
Choosing to apply only for positions that aligned with my interests and goals was a privilege, and I had the emotional and financial support of my family and husband, which made this decision possible.
Although uncertain about the exact path my career would take, I was determined to find the right fit for my passion and skills. Continuous development and engagement in activities I loved became my priority.
Throughout my career, I embraced transitions as a natural part of growth and development. While change never caused me anxiety - though I'm not saying it's always easy! - I understood the importance of settling into new roles before making impulsive decisions, approaching each transition with calm and reflection.
As my story continues, each chapter represents a new adventure, a fresh opportunity, and the pursuit of my true calling. My passion for languages and research will be my guiding force as I navigate the ever-changing landscape of academia and beyond.
Over time, my professional identity has evolved, and I've come to appreciate a broader perspective on my career options. Teaching and interacting with students during an Italian language teaching stint in Australia opened my eyes to new possibilities.
I’m continuously reevaluating my priorities and interests, that change with age, life events and evolving passions. While research and writing still hold a special place for me, I'm open to exploring diverse avenues beyond traditional academic roles. Some aspects of academic positions in the UK, like heavy administrative and pastoral responsibilities, might not align with my preferences.
Throughout my journey, the combination of my background, experiences, and the unwavering support of my loved ones has shaped my path. Embracing a diverse and flexible professional identity has shown me the potential for growth and fulfillment beyond the confines of a binary academic or non-academic trajectory.