Wednesday, 7 March 2012

A full time part-time job

Posted by Bronia Arnott

You may think that the title of this post is an oxymoron, but sometimes I do feel as if this is an accurate description of my job. Many years ago an ex-colleague told me to never go part time. "There was no such thing as a part time job in academia – even the part time ones are full time", they said. Needless to day, I didn’t listen.

I have chosen to work part-time since I returned from maternity leave just over two years ago and I am currently employed three days per week as a Research Associate on the Reflect project. I enjoy working part-time and being able to balance the needs of my family with work. I have found employers to be very accepting of flexible working requests and I have found part-time job opportunities available.
Part-time clock
However, there are a number of drawbacks to part-time research. Some of these are probably common to all professions.

I am not allowed to attend meetings on a pro-rata basis. If only I could get up and leave after 40 minutes saying sorry that is my 0.6FTE. I can’t just write 60% of a paper and submit that to a journal with a note to the editor that I haven’t written the discussion or conclusions because I only work part-time.

Also, there is a perception among some that by working part-time you somehow aren’t as committed to your job as someone who works full time. Thankfully, I think that this attitude is dying out.

Working as a part-time researcher has taught me three important things. Firstly, I am passionate about my work and I want to spend time doing what I am passionate about – even if I am only paid for doing it part-time. No-one could be in academia for the money. Secondlly, it isn’t about how many hours you work, but what you do when you are working (orsupposed to be working). Finally, you get out of research is what you put into it. I know that many of my full time colleagues work more than their contracted hours. It isn’t just me who is working ‘out-of-hours’.

But the most important thing that I have learned is that part-time working works for me.

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