Pursuing a Career in Academia

The reason why many people write about themselves is to satisfy an inner desire to reflect and perceive their thoughts better. Indeed a certain tell tale sign of a blooming novice writer is the subtle reflection of autobiographical accounts in his or her work. And there is no obvious fledgling slave of the pen (or rather a keypad) as I am. The reason behind this often utilized technique is that it gives a tangibility to our otherwise visceral thoughts, just like saying something out loud makes it a ‘happening’. Thus it was with apprehension and mild irritation that I wrote the title for this post given my history of career hopping and the tremendous pressure of standing on my own two feet. Besides the odds against settling in a career of exactly your own choosing are exceptionally high. Am I really going to make it?

For those not well versed with the job description of an academic allow me to elaborate. In its essence an Academic is anyone engaged in higher education and research at a University or other institution with the ultimate objective of becoming a master in the chosen field. Lecturers, professors and the entire spectrum of people with similar titles fall under this profession. Now when we talk about academics we picture hunched back bald men wearing cheap tweed jackets raking of moth balls and pipe tobacco. People we have grown to despise and made fun off since primary school and It is with some chagrin that I admit to being party to some dreadful practical jokes on my school and college lecturers.

However you might be quite surprised to know that college and university professors earn a decent living especially those who are young and on top of their game.  International travel, publicity, fame and prestige, money, flexible working hours etc are some very attractive aspects of an academic career. That and knowing that the work you do contributes to the advancement and growth of society as opposed to sweating it out in an office cubicle makes it a wise career choice.

But as with any other profession it takes time to build. Reputation and personal branding are a very important aspect of the game besides keeping very up to date with developments in the field. People take years to realize these goals. But of course nothing worthwhile is achieved without chopping out a limb (metaphorically) and chewing up some grey matter (not so metaphorically). So as I spend my time these days in front of the computer, reading as many relevant journal articles and books as I can, scrutinizing over government reports, media texts and maintaining a correspondence with industry veterans in my quest to perfect my PhD proposal I too find myself faced with doubts whether I have enough optimism and charisma left to finish this great task.

I had mentally prepared myself for this gruel as I was heading back to Karachi; days of freely roaming the streets of London to converse with intriguing authors, starting the day with the weather report, catching up on the news in the tube amid people of assorted colors, shapes, sizes and I daresay looks, yes its quite refreshing to exchange an innocent flirty smile with a beautiful women during the morning commute gives a certain oomph to the day. All that is in the past now, its back to Karachi…

*Peep *beep *beeeeeeepppppp

Abay ghoor kia raha hai … agay bhar

Bap key road hai kia…


But despite these shortcomings of my home city I can’t help but think about the conversations with people on this subject; living in Pakistan you have time on your hands and when you are not constantly engaged in making round the clock living you can spend time planning and getting inspired, that dreaming big is the only way to dream but most of all instead of looking at this phase with bleak, uncertain and morose eyes one should look at it as raw, uncertain and full of opportunity. I stand firm.



Pff. Youtube is still banned! I might have to fill this space with a soundcloud plugin. Standby mates.


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