Reflections from 2017 CAPHIA Teaching & Learning Forum: Tips for early career academics (and arguably not so early career ones too)


A couple of weeks ago Kate Kersey and I attended our first CAPHIA (Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australia) Teaching & Learning Forum in Sydney, Australia:

This was an inspiring event.  The presenters had engaging content but more than that, the forum effectively created a sense of community; an open and warm collegial spirit. The sessions were all held in the one room and so everyone had the opportunity to listen to all the scheduled speakers, unlike the bigger conferences where parallel sessions means you spend your time darting between session rooms, making difficult choices, or opting out and choosing the city sights instead. This forum was different.

One of the highlights (and there were many) was a lunchtime seminar from Associate Professor Joe Negin, Head of School, Associate Professor of International Public Health, School of Public Health at the University of Sydney.

Joel shared with us his top tips for early/mid career academics, woven through his story-telling of his circuitous path to academia.

This is my recollection of his top tips:

  1. Be present – turn up, attend meetings, be seen around the place.
  2. Be the person to make the first draft – although daunting offer to start the first draft. That way you’ll make your mark on the project/document etc
  3. Be opportunistic.
  4. Be bold.
  5. Be global.
  6. Suck up to people we admire, such as authors – read a great article? email the author. Tell them what you think. May lead to new and important connections.
  7. Gain methodological expertise – a transferable area of expertise
  8. Think multisectorally – life doesn’t exist in silos, get out there and mix/mingle across sectors/faculties
  9. Work with people you like rather than people with shared areas of interest or expertise – working with people you like means you’ll enjoy work more, plus will lead to more creativity and more cross-discipline research, greater likelihood for innovative collaborations.
  10. Be organised – just helps a lot!

For me the key tip was choosing to work with people I like – more fun, more productive, more interesting outcomes. I look forward to doing more of this!

What’s your favourite tip…or do you have others?

Thanks Joel 🙂


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