Photo by Civic Soup CIC
Over the past week, I have begun meeting postdoc staff to explore what influences their wellbeing and resilience. A key area that I have picked up on is the importance of communities within and outside of the university.
Line-managers and other research staff in the department understand the pressures of academia so they are perfect for getting support and advice. For many postdocs, realising that senior staff face the same issues and have been in similar situations as them has helped them realise that they are not alone! Great ways to build relationships within the university include getting involved in sport, conferences and societies.
SS note: Don’t forget our Research Staff Societies as well – this is a way to build a community around your needs and interests. If there isn’t a society in your School we can help you set one up!
Getting involved in the larger community can also be beneficial for wellbeing and academic development. Whether this is starting a new hobby, charity work or public engagement events, you will meet many new people and have a break from your research environment.
Public engagement is a brilliant way to…
- Gain perspective on your own research by taking a step back and thinking about which elements will be relevant and interesting to the public
- Meet a new network of people, who may come in handy in the future!
- Gain confidence and skills by communicating with a large range of people
- Create new ideas about possible applications or directions of your research
- Improve funding possibilities! Some funders may ask for lay summaries, have non-specialist interviews and place high importance on impact.
There are lots of opportunities for public engagement. For example, many primary and secondary schools would be happy for researchers to lead a one-off exciting lesson. There may be barriers for this though, such as PVG requirements.
At Edinburgh we have the wonderful example of the Festival of Creative Learning, where anyone can apply to run an event linking to learning in new ways. Past events include the application of Artificial Intelligence in Law, creating an art/office space for a community and a workshop for children to express their musicality. If you would like to put on an event, there are funds and support available.
Furthermore, every August the Fringe invades campus, what a perfect opportunity! The Beltane team at IAD run the Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas , which is a great chance to meet new people and do something new.
Over the next few weeks, I will continue exploring this idea that talking to people can be a great way to improve your wellbeing and resilience! If you would like to chat about your resilience as a researcher and what helps you, please get in touch.