A week in the life of a modern academic
The first thing I would like to say is that I didn't choose academia, it chose me, and I absolutely love every aspect of it. I was simply a passionate and hardworking student who studied law, and when I graduated, there was a part of me which wasn't convinced that my learning journey had ended. After completing further study, it still wasn't enough, and it suddenly dawned on me that I never wanted to stop learning. During that realisation, I had already started teaching university students, and there was just something about sharing my passion for learning that I became addicted to.
The first thing you should know about academia is that no week is ever the same. For me, each week will consist of learning, reading and researching; or marking, teaching and mentoring students. There are weeks where the teaching timetable will stay the same, but at no point during an academic year or semester does one's routine stagnate. There is also no possibility of me ever becoming bored, and I am the type to get bored easily, so I often enjoy a change in scenery or a change work routine.
In terms of work, my week is structured to include class preparation, teaching, research, of which I am continuously learning and I will also have marking to complete on a regular basis. One of my favourite parts to the week would have to be the people I get to engage with on an daily basis. There is nothing better than walking into a classroom and being able to have a class discussion on legal issues and problems with my students, yes of course, in some weeks my classes will be quieter than others, however there are always smiles, laughter and insightful comments. I am also fortunate enough to have great discussions with other academics, and more often than not, they're experts in their field.
Another fantastic part to my week is that my schedule can be quite flexible. Of course, I have set teaching each week that rarely changes for that semester, however I am fortunate enough dictate where and when I complete other tasks during the week. This is quite beneficial since I have the tendency to be an owl most evenings, often staying awake until 1am researching or reading. So I generally don't get out of bed before 9am most mornings, which is undoubtedly a luxury. There are also days where I am quite happy to get up at 6am.
Even though each week will be full with several tasks, which will take up 80% of my working week, academia also gives you great freedom, as long you meet deadlines, there is the possibility to work from home on some days. Many of your meetings will be done at a cafe enjoying lunch or just a coffee. Academia and coffee go hand-in-hand, which is probably why you'll see me wandering the campus, or walking into a class with a coffee in hand.
Due to having great hours, I have a great life outside of work. I have the luxury to spend many evenings cooking for my family and extended family. On other nights, I have the privilege to go out for dinner and tickle my tastebuds with delicious food Melbourne has to offer. Sometimes you might even find me out a cafe that's open until late at night, sipping on a weak mocha or camomile tea, marking papers or researching for my next potential publication. On weekends, I can be found reading or researching, or if the whether is nice, you can find me out of town enjoying the fresh air in my vintage car.
If you love learning, researching and writing, academia may be an option for you, regardless of your area of expertise, whether it be history, law, molecular science or nutrition. At school, when it came to selecting a 'career' or what you wanted to study at university, although so many options were available at the time, whether that be a lawyer, an accountant, or an engineer, at no point did someone say, 'if you study and love it, you can actually make a career out of it'. So, every part of me is thankful that academia found me.
Academia for me has provided balance and freedom, I'm always surrounded by people that I can learn from and have great discussions with, and finally, I have the time to indulge myself in life's little luxuries. My week's are busy, but I rarely feel like I am working, that's probably the best part.