This year, at the University of Bristol Business School, I organised a series of career development seminars titled ‘The Third Way’, aimed specifically at colleagues on a teaching and learning pathway (P3) contract. The intention behind this seminar series was to inspire career development for the colleagues on education pathway and to learn about various professional journeys and strategies to develop as an academic on the education track.
Four fantastic speakers presented in the seminars. We had Professor Sally Everett from Kings College London, Professor David Boughey from Exeter University, Professor Kathy Daniels from Aston University and our own Associate Professor Wayne Holland.
The challenge with the “third way”, is that it is relatively new. It has only been around for about 10 years or so. Each university adopted its own interpretation of the pathway and created its own set of criteria for success. Indeed, gaining promotion on any pathway is never easy, yet, at least on teaching and research path, the expectations are overall clear. However, when it comes to progression on the education pathway, the expectations seem to be a lot less consistent across the Higher Education sector in the UK.
The discussion that emerged from the Career Development Seminar Series were broadly based around the elements of the education triangle.
It seems that although one might mainly specialise in one major aspect of the triangle, there needs to be a balanced portfolio of activities across all three elements. Teaching itself, education leadership and pedagogic scholarship and knowledge dissemination.
Further to this, it’s a matter of providing a coherent narrative, being visible and proactive, getting a mentor and knowing the promotion criteria.
Below is a summary of my key takeaways from these excellent presentations.
Do what you are passionate about and think about your direction.
Where are you heading and why? If you want to become a professor in education – what do you want to “profess” in?
Know the rules of the “game”.
Know the promotion criteria and be instrumental in approaching your promotion application and ticking all the right boxes. But also, don’t wait for 100% perfect or 100% ready. Perfect doesn’t exist. Finished is better than perfect.
Get a mentor or mentors.
Mentor (whether internal or external) is usually someone who is more experienced and is in a similar career path. They have been there and can offer a wise advise and guidance. Mentor can also see things from a different perspective and help you gain that clarity.
You never know where potential collaborators might find you.
Keep track of your achievements.
Keep updating your CV. Keep a plaudits file with all the positive feedback and comments you received.
Be curious and open to opportunities.
Sometimes things appear serendipitous. But often, in reality, opportunities arrive to you because you showed up, because you were in the room.
Consider joining Professors in Preparation network (#ProfsInPrep), look into the Aspiring National Teaching Fellows and the Certified Management & Business Educator programme.
Finally, if something doesn’t exist – create it. Pilot it!
It was truly inspiring hearing about these excellent colleagues’ career development journeys and learning about their top tips and advice. I am so grateful for their time and energy presenting on the seminar series. The seminars were very well received, and I am planning to run another series in the next academic year.
Currently, there are no full professors on the education pathway at the University of Bristol Business School, although we have a few profs on the P3 track in other schools in the university. One of the guest speakers in the seminar series said that having been one of the first professors in the country on the education path they now deliver career development talks in various universities across the country.
My hope is that the next 5-10 years will see more clarity in the career development requirements on the education track with more education pathway colleagues getting promoted to the associate professor and professor level across the higher education sector in the UK.
If you are interested in obtaining a recording of one of these seminars, please feel free to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org