Academic Careers Advice: Dr Lily Canter, Principal Lecturer
Dr Lily Canter is a Principal Lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University. What attracted her to become a lecturer was the flexibility, before this she was a full-time journalist. Becoming a lecturer in journalism allowed her to research, teach and practice journalism - the best of both worlds!Transcript
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About this video
Dr Lily Canter is a Principal Lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University. What attracted her to become a lecturer was the flexibility, before this she was a full-time journalist. Becoming a lecturer in journalism allowed her to research, teach and practice journalism - the best of both worlds!
Watch her video as she talks about what attracted her to this career, a typical day in the life, top career tips!
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Hello. I’m Dr Lily Canter and I am a principal lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University.
What attracted me to this career was really the flexibility. I previously worked as a full-time journalist and I moved over into academia, but because I’m researching about journalism and teaching about journalism, it also means I’ve got the ability to practise journalism.
So I’ve kind of got the best of all worlds, but I’m able to research on topics that I’m interested in, focus on writing the journalism that I’m interested in, and working in a very collaborative environment
that is also very autonomous and allows me to pursue my own interests.
In terms of what I do on a typical day, to a certain extent I don’t have a typical day. Each day is different, so some days I’ve got a heavy load of teaching, other days I am very much on the computer, doing research, writing up research. Other days, I’ll be attending conferences, collecting data via interviews, content analysis. Other days, I’ll be writing
journalism articles, I’ll be blogging, I’ll be networking. So there’s a whole variety of things that I do. I also manage a team. So there’s lots and lots of different elements, and that’s what I like about it, is every day is different and there isn’t really a typical day, but I can structure my week around those different activities.
My top career tip would be – know how to sell yourself. Know what your strengths are and don’t be afraid to effectively show them off. So that might be when you go to a job interview – take examples of your work, speak very honestly, enthusiastically about everything you do, use a blog to promote what you do, network, use social media, be used to promoting the big and the small.
And really don’t be afraid to sell yourself, because at the end of the day, employers are looking for someone who’s confident, who’s going to have high impact on the work that they do, and who is able to get their work out there to the wider world.
The best bits about my job is very much the autonomy. So I can research areas that I am interested in - if I start looking at a particular area like social media, I can decide – right, I want to do research on Twitter – but then that might spiral into something else.
If I decide I want to focus on journalism education, then I can then do research in that. So there’s kind of endless possibilities to pursue your own interests, but then also build that back into your teaching
and use that to enthuse your students and so they’ve got a real grounding that you know what you’re talking about and that it’s based in your own research and in your own interests, and it’s very much set by your own agenda, and you have control over that research environment.
I guess the thing that surprised me the most about my job is how much, in some ways, it differs to working as a journalist in a newsroom, where it’s a very fast pace, deadline after deadline. It’s about knocking out copy.
Being an academic is very much a different pace of life, different types of pressures, different deadlines, but actually I’ve used those skills in journalism to cross over into academia, so I’m still very much someone who likes to work to tight deadlines, likes to
turn out my papers quickly. I don’t like to procrastinate for too long. I know how to get stuff out there and promote it. But in some respects, it’s nice to have a bit more time to think and to consider things, and to follow my own interests, rather than always being dictated to by the general news agenda.
At the start of my career, I would have told myself that you can do it – you’ve got something unique that other people don’t have, and would have had perhaps more belief in myself, and I think that comes with experience, but everyone has their own specialism – particularly after you’ve done a PhD, you are the expert in that particular field and you really need to grow on that and build on that, and remember that you are the expert and that no-one else is in that very
niche area, and you’re very valuable and you should never undersell yourself in any way.
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