18 October 2020

If not academia then what?

I explained that in earlier post that my job is on the line. So if I lose it, what's next? The situation has not been resolved yet, but it's important, of course, that I have thought about alternatives. And I have!

My first thought is: I am a bit of a language pedant. When I was in secondary school, I always had to work for the sciences, while the languages happened naturally to me (as long as they were Dutch, English or Latin; that is; my skills in French, German and Greek were less stellar, but I didn’t do these for A levels). So maybe I should do something with that talent, plus my experience in science. What I was thinking about this becoming a proofreader, or maybe even a copyeditor, of specifically scientific texts. And I know it's quite a step to go from having no education in that direction, and having no experience either, to somehow get to the point where I could make a living out of it. But I think people do that sort of thing all the time; they lose their job, they decide to take a different direction, just work hard at it, and succeed. And I think I can do it! If someone writes about geosciences or climate science or that sort of things, I know what they're talking about. That helps! And the pandemic doesn’t stop written text from being produced. And a lot of it needs proofreading. I have no idea what my chances would be to get into scientific proofreading early on, but it's good to have a goal. I might have to start on user manuals or something, but I hope to build up a portfolio and widen my opportunities. And I suppose scientific publications are mainly in the hands of few large publishers like Elsevier and John Wiley & Sons, and these are not situated in North Wales, but  I imagine that in this day and age you could agree with an employer to work from a distance. But this is getting ahead of things a bit. Let's start small!

One of the things that I have learned in my time in academia will come in handy mightily here: learning new skills really fast! And yes I know this blog is full of typos but this is a leisure project. I'm convinced that I could brush up my language skills to such a degree that I could do this professionally within too long. And I would have some time before the redundancy money runs out. And start-up costs are not very high. You need the skills, a computer and an office. That’s pretty much it!

Before I manage to earn a living proofreading, I also should be able to get some a sort of short jobs to keep me paying the bills in the meantime. I've seen other people do that; a friend of mine works for track and trace now, after she quit her job. I have had a look at local job sites, and there are jobs advertised in things such as hospitality (!) and delivery driving. I am not above any of that. And I also saw that there is a job site that lets you search jobs you could do remotely. That widens the field! I already saw that there is quite some demand for tutors. This is not surprising given the effect the pandemic has had on education. I already got me an A level maths book to brush up my skills (I did my A levels some 27 years ago!), so I could do maths tutoring if necessary. Again, ways of earning money with as good as no start-up costs! So there are possibilities, and if it's possible then why couldn't I do it?

Another thing I thought about, as a plan B, was that there is a strong shortage of secondary school teachers in sciences in Britain. That shortage is so big that if you have a degree in a science, you can basically retrain as a secondary school teacher, and be paid for it while you are still in training. I know that it's another very stressful job, and that a lot of teachers quit within five years, but then again; if that would keep me ticking over for a few years, then that would buy me time to consider even more options. And I suppose me speaking Welsh would help here. That is something I did get out of this University! I learned the language. But would I find a school to do the training in within commuting distance? But this is only plan B so I don't have to worry too much about this for now.

Altogether I have enough to do for now! I have to explore my options in the proofreading world, and I have my A levels maths to revise. In addition to my already much more than full time job. I won't have to be bored! Not that that was one of my concerns anyway, ever. But onwards! Watch this space for updates on the University situation. These are interesting times…

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