As a final year PhD student, I am now having to seriously think about my options for the future. Ideally, I would love to be able to continue working in research. During my time at the University of York, I’ve had the opportunity to work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and have discovered that I love teaching. It would be great to be able to continue doing this too.
The York Learning and Teaching Award
However, delving into a career in academia can be an incredibly competitive process. I wanted to make sure that I was as well prepared as possible. I knew from fairly early on in my PhD that I wanted to pursue a career in academia, so when I saw an opportunity to take part in the York Learning and Teaching Award, I was excited to apply.
The York Learning and Teaching Award (YLTA), is a course designed to support GTAs at the University of York to develop their skills and teaching practice. This sounded ideal for me as a PhD student wanting to continue to work in the academic sector.
I found the course to be really interesting. And it has definitely helped prepare me for the next stage of my career journey. One of the most useful sessions, in terms of career preparation, involved developing an academic CV and taking part in a mock interview for an academic role.
I have also accessed the Careers Service at York for help with refining my CV. This was also very useful. I booked an appointment with a Careers Advisor and sent a copy of my CV by email in advance of our meeting. At the appointment, the Careers Advisor talked through my CV. They gave me some great ideas about how I could make improvements.
Creating a portfolio
The YLTA course also helped me to develop my teaching practice. There is an emphasis on reflecting on your experiences and culminated in the production of a portfolio which is assessed at the end of the course.
The reflective portfolio was structured by six learning outcomes, which linked to the Professional Standards Framework. This meant I was eligible to be an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy once the course was completed. This is a great addition to my CV. It helps potential employers to see the skills that I have developed as a GTA at York.
Each student is assigned a supervisor from a different department to support compiling there portfolio. I am studying in the Department of Education, and my supervisor was from the Department of English and Related Literature.
Developing skills for the future
One of the activities to support the development of teaching skills, was to attend a seminar which was being led by your supervisor. I found it really interesting to go along to an English Literature seminar. I even ended up reading a copy of the book that was being discussed. (It was Mrs Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf, if you were wondering!)
The YLTA course, combined with the support from the Careers Service, was very helpful in preparing me for life after my PhD. I hope that I will be successful in gaining an academic post in the future. I would definitely recommend the YLTA course to anyone who is considering it. It was a fun experience, as well as being useful for future career prospects.
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