Have you considered moving to support/admin roles (Hourly paid tutor here)

(21 Posts)
Larrythecat Fri 25-May-18 21:22:47

I'm on my third PhD year and I have been working as Hourly Paid Tutor for four years at different institutions with considerable marking. I've been trying to write articles on the side, with no luck, but I've put the work and one or two might end up as book chapters. I'm struggling with work-life balance, though, specially with lack of sleep and stress. So much that my children and husband are complaining, and my health has taken a turn to the worse. The specialist agrees my lifestyle is to blame and if I don't take it easy, I might end up having an important surgery. I'm wondering if I'm pursuing a dream that will make me ill and not sustainable in the long term. I can't continue to sleep 5h a day to get things done, work seven days a week, stress continuously, etc. I'm considering whether maybe working in a support job for a while (instead of teaching) will give some better life, a chance to heal, etc. I also like admin and I'm wondering whether I should look at this as a career change for health reasons.

Does this sound reasonable? Have you moved from teaching / research to support / admin? I'm really exhausted (and scared of making myself more ill)

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NevermindMyMind Fri 25-May-18 21:37:29

I'm not a PhD graduate but I was working a deputy manager role, I took a lesser job for more money a couple of years ago. I hate the organisation now and would consider admin for decent pay. As long as you can afford it nothing is worth your health, in my opinion. We work to live, not live to work.

If you take care of yourself, you will have time for your articles in years to come.

Larrythecat Fri 25-May-18 21:56:04

I could probably earn more in admin than teaching at the moment, as once I take into account preparation, delivery, emailing students and marking (specially marking), I'll probably really earn £10/h or less, because marking takes me 3 times longer than they calculate and students seem to want replies 24/7 ... sad
Hourly paid rate is £30 at my institution but includes holiday pay and is only paid for actual teaching hour, so it includes preparation, marking, contact with students, admin, etc.

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Thespringsthething Fri 25-May-18 23:23:18

I wouldn't keep going as a Tutor, any benefit for your CV has happened by now and having another year of it won't make any difference. I'd get a part time job doing something else less demanding and better paid and concentrate on saving yourself for that final year or two of PhD.

SparkyTheCat Sun 27-May-18 12:37:15

OP you are wise to be considering this now.

I'm a PhD graduate working in HE admin, and it's great. I'm in an area and at a level where the work is interesting and relevant but not too stressful, and I can put it down at 5pm, and go have my life. The salary's quite good, and a perm contract is not to be sneezed at in our world. As a member of university staff I have full library and JSTOR access, and can go on training courses. I keep my hand in on the research front, but on my terms, and am a fairly significant player in my field. If you're clever about it, working in admin can provide you with a platform to 'be' an academic without all the crap which comes from 'doing' it for a living.

Of course all the above assumes you still want to stay in academia in some way. You may be utterly sick of it by now! In which case - if you have the skills for it - admin/management is a good route out while keeping in, iyswim.

In my admin job I often find myself comforting very senior profs who are literally weeping with the stress of it all. Sometimes I wonder who is the clever one...

Please do pm me if you'd like to chat some more, and best of luck with the PhD.

WaitRun Sun 27-May-18 18:27:07

I have considered this but not had much luck in securing a role. I would happily switch over. I also think it is a smart move, especially for women, with potential maternity breaks it is very hard on temporary jobs.

Larrythecat Mon 28-May-18 14:40:29

Sorry, I somehow missed the last messages!

Thespring, I think that's where both my heart and mind is at the moment, I'm just feeling slightly guilty as if I should just keep going... But I know I should not!

Thank you, I am feeling slightly less anxious about applying for support roles, I was feeling a bit like a failure for considering it! I found very interesting, SparkyCat, that you have moved to admin roles and still do research, I think it's perfectly compatible and I'm relieved to hear that you've made it work!
Waitrun, that's part of my concern too, to not being able to get in. I'm looking at level 4-5 for admin, despite doing level 6-7 for lecturing, I'm not sure I could aim for anything higher as admin, but I have no clue really!

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flumpybear Mon 28-May-18 14:47:41

I moved from academia (4 years post doc u oversight, year In Industry and lecturing as locum) and never looked back- work in HEI senior management now - love it!

Larrythecat Mon 28-May-18 15:34:58

I'm so unfamiliar with the application process, though. I've been applying for teaching for so long, that I'm very unsure what kind of skills I should showcase. I do read the desirable and essential description, but some wording is quite vague!

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kathhere Mon 28-May-18 15:41:37

Level 5 admin here (not an academic though). Have you talked to your faculty admin staff about what might be coming up/ useful skills to emphasise? We’ve recently had an ex academic move across to our area and it’s been fantastic, they’re used to dealing with other academics so have those negotiating/ communication skills and an understanding of the wider academic world that sometimes I miss. Go for it!

Larrythecat Mon 28-May-18 15:51:15

That's really good advice! Thanks!

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NotDavidTennant Mon 28-May-18 16:37:34

Are you doing the PhD full time? Trying to hold done a job while doing a full-time PhD is a fast way to completely burn yourself out.

Larrythecat Tue 29-May-18 00:40:23

I am, but would consider going part time if I get a full time job, or trying to find a part time job in order to keep the PhD full time. I feel I was doing everything full time before! :-/

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bibliomania Tue 29-May-18 14:11:04

Yes, I work in uni admin and am completing a PhD. It's a relatively specialised role, so the work is interesting and the pay is reasonable if not spectacular. I'm not yet sure of my next step once the PhD is over with, but certainly as an interim arrangement, it has worked very well for me.

Larrythecat Tue 29-May-18 16:58:20

I thought I was going to be the odd one thinking of moving to admin and dropping teaching 😅 thank you so much. I've missed a few application deadlines with all this "should I, should I not" but there are a few openings still at the moment. Off to check jobs.ac.uk again!

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bibliomania Wed 30-May-18 10:28:21

No, you're not alone. In all honesty, depending on the nature of the admin role and the institution, it can sometimes feel like a step down rather than sideways, but if you think strategically about what matters to you (work/life balance over status), it's not such a bad bargain.

It can be quite fluid - it's easier to move departments as an admin than an academic - so there's more scope to find a role/team that you like.

Larrythecat Thu 31-May-18 09:00:27

I think that's it, looking at it from a work/life balance, it's a much better position for me. I won't have the flexibility to work from home outside student contact hours, but to be honest at the moment I'm around my kids neglecting any attention because I have a lecture to prepare, readings to do, marking to complete, emails to send... So I'm not seeing any advantage to being home. I somehow had thought that I could have more time at home with the kids because I could work from home... But that is not the case, the time we spend together is not quality time at all but a struggle between them asking for my attention and me dismissing them because I have work to do. I'm always trying to catch up with everything and I'm just questioning why I am doing this to myself at the moment!

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weekfour Thu 31-May-18 09:14:35

I used to work in HR for a University. My advice is to read the essential and desirable skills and write a statement to match them. Don’t over-do it- however much temptation there is.

The easiest way to get into the ‘interview pile’ is actually to write a sentence about each essential/desirable skill. Whoever is taking the first look at CV’s will use the same matrix you have been given and will simply tick to say you’ve mentioned it. It really is a game and trying to make everything equal and fair has lead to simplified processes that a child could manage. I used to love it when people kept it in the same order... tick, tick, tick... in you go!

Larrythecat Thu 31-May-18 09:33:27

Thank you, the suggestion to keep the order is good. I usually attach a table with their requirements and how I match them, but don't go over all of that again in the cover letter, I think I should if you are looking at that for the criteria!

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freegazelle Sun 03-Jun-18 15:10:44


Can I ask how you still manage to do your own research stuff with a full time 9-5 job?

Going into uni admin while keeping up your own project sounds great in theory - just wondering how it works in practice.

SparkyTheCat Thu 14-Jun-18 20:40:40

Sorry @gazelle, only just seen your message because I've been massively busy writing and reviewing journal articles, giving talks, being secretary to an academic organisation and negotiating a book contract. Which kind of answers your question! I manage because I like being busy, by being very organised and focused on both work and academic fronts, and being picky about what academic projects I do. If it's going essentially to be a hobby, I have to enjoy it. It also helps that I work in a support service which deals with research and researchers, and have managers who appreciate the skills and experiences I bring (not least the ability to cat-herd academics!) I probably have sacrificed most of my promotion prospects, but then I hate line management anyway...

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