Week 1: The Beginning

First week of PhD, thoughts on Remote Start. Software Nightmare. and Academic Career Progression

“Welcome to UCL” – 10 online induction courses (no kidding!) but I doubt I’d remembered a lot from them. Possible true that it is to leave a gist, an impression of what the college values: fire safety, implicit bias, data security… All is well! Changing jobs are never simple, and doing this in a remote-working era makes it … a bit weird? But I presume it is something for all of us to get used to.

The plus side of everything going online is that, I get to attend A SWARM of online talks, seminars and groups. It does feel a bit overwhelming to start – my schedule is quickly populated with scheduled meetings and invitations, there are always this prominent speaker coming, that core training one cannot miss – can’t help but wonder – will I ever attain this wisdom to determine which talks are the truly good ones I should listen? Would be a thing to reflect perhaps a few weeks down the line..!

A Virtual Office (Unsplash)
Office. Photo by Laura Davidson on Unsplash

Software Nightmare

The excitement of starting at a new post was quickly overtaken by the frustration of – you guessed it – installing the relevant applications and softwares on my laptop! Numerous emails, calls and remote access sessions but still not able to get all I need. There must be more flexible ways for colleges to adapt to this fast-changing landscape of software development! Take Python as an example, the only version that is easily installable via college software centre is version 3.6.4, which failed to satisfy a lot of the dependencies of many recently developed softwares. Guess it is always this tug of war between data system safety & integrity vs freedom & flexibility…! Hope they all get sorted next week!

Imagining an Inclusive Academia

UCL provides a clear guidance on career progression – the Academic Career Framework (see below) – with a comprehensive list of things one is expected to achieve at UCL Grade 7 and above. This is something I have never heard of! It provides a substantive structure into what is needed to progress at UCL, in other words, things that are (currently) valued by the college.

4 Components of the Academic Career Framework (UCL)

It is said that contributions to all 4 categories is necessary to measure one’s achievement. I appreciate the attempt to provide clarity on progression, and I can see a wider potential of these frameworks to revolutionise academics’ roles in society – As Dr. Nadia Islam rightly put, a community-focused collaborative role needs to be more heavily emphasised in academic research. This would be a part of a change I would like to see, and contribute to in academia in near future!

I think this pretty much wraps up week 1 – excited to continue to embark on this journey, and hope that you will be adjourning with me 🙂


Author: joseph lam

On a Part-Time PhD Journey. Reflection on living Academia into a better place. 🇭🇰 Migrant in 🇬🇧

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