Personal and Professional Development as a Researcher

Whether you are just starting out or you are a mid-career researcher, progressing in your career could be really bothersome but it is highly rewarding. Successful researchers analyse carefully their skills, objectives, and the areas they need to develop. It is high time you managed your personal and professional development. Here’s an overview of the core processes required in guiding your development.

Have a Self-Evaluation

It is very important to be clear about your current situation. You need to assess yourself—your values, goals, and progress—by asking yourself a series of questions:

  1. What do I enjoy about my career?

  2. In what part of my current role am I experiencing difficulties?

  3. Do I wish to continue in this present role and at this current organization? (Give your reasons.)

  4. For those that have previous work experience,

    a. What did I enjoy most about the previous work? Why?

    b. What did I enjoy least about the work? Why?

  5. What are my strengths?

  6. What are my weaknesses?

  7. What are my short-term and long-term goals?

Self-evaluation helps you to understand where exactly you are in order to be able to move forward.

Look into Your Future

You need to move forward from understanding your current situation to understanding what you really want to be doing.

Evaluate your personal growth and development. Pay attention to yourself and find out if you have developed new interests or if you have interests that you cannot pursue in your current position. This is important in order to find ways and opportunities to achieve your goals. In the end, this may require you to opt for a different role within your organization, move to another organization, or in fact, change your career.

Evaluate your professional growth and development as well. You need to find answers to these questions:

1. Is my current job fulfilling my expectations?
2. Have I been able to meet all the goals that I earlier set for myself? If not, why not?
3. Are these goals still applicable for my career?
4. What am I doing now?
5. Am I happy with my current role? Am I still motivated to carry out this role?
6. What skills have I obtained in this current position?
7. Are these skills important for my career especially in the near future?
8. Do the organization’s goals and beliefs (still) match mine?
9. Do I want more responsibility?

Finding answers to these will help guide you toward a role and an organization that best fit you. Do not opt for just anything; go for what you love.

Work on Your Goals

Once you have been able to identify your strengths and weaknesses, the skills you want to learn, and your perfect role, you can now write down your long and short-term goals.

Having clearly spelt out your goals, explore ways to achieve them. Create an action plan regarding how you intend to achieve your goals, the expected outcome, and how long it should take. There may be additional skills you need to consider to meet these goals, like professional development, management training, and leadership.

It is important to think carefully about your possibilities as you pursue your goals via a good self-evaluation, foresight, and deliberateness in following them through as you progress into the next phase of your career.

Best of luck!

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