oh dear I think I may be too old now...

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======= Date Modified 14 Aug 2012 17:50:42 =======
======= Date Modified 14 Aug 2012 17:50:09 =======
Dear friends,

I have had a long PhD journey - I'm part-time and have juggled demanding teaching hours at various unis throughout my PhD. When I first began this journey, I was in my late 30s, but various events mena that I didn't actually start the PhD until I was just 40... I am now 43. There is light at the end of the tunnel in termsof the PhD work. I have written almost half of it and my work is now of the right standard. I have an excellent supervisor who is right at the top of his tree - and very encouraging. Of his 18 past PhD student 12 have academic posts. Apart from my age I would feel quite good about things, as good as anybody can do at present. However, I will be at least 44 when I finish. Yes I will have loads of teaching experience and hopefully the beginnings of a good research profile, but I will be into an age bracket that means I can't really hang around at all, whatsoever. I'm applying for organisational and admin roles in universities now, just because I am so tired of the instability and sheer man hours for no pay of lecturing. But the idea of an office based job makes me go aaaarrrrrgggghhh, it's everything I've ever wanted to avoid. I'd really love to go to Australia but I don't know if it would be too late for me by the time I finish.

I suppose this is a crisis brought on by the end of my PhD beckoning. Reality bites. Any thoughts?


I was just thinking on similar lines myself. I've just submitted and will be 46 next month. I would like an academic post and have a lot of teaching experience, which is what I enjoy most, but I haven't got a great research profile or much published so think it may be too late to get a 'proper' academic post as there will be younger people with more experience, and people my age will probably already have an established career. I know age shouldn't matter but it does. I've decided that teaching is what I enjoy and I am teaching for the OU and hope to get more teaching at other unis (see my other post). I am happy doing this in conjunction with museum work which is my other passion.
If you have the opportunity to go to Australia and there is work there then I would say go for it.
Being in your forties isn't old really - at least another 20 years until I retire and more for you. That's a long time!


As I've gotten older (although I'm only early 30s I hasten to add) I've gone for the "well, just try it and see" approach. I've had a lot of self doubt about things over the years (am I good enough? will I succeed?) but as I've got older I've just thought, well, what's the worst that can really happen?

So you've identified something you are interested in doing - moving to Australia. Have you looked at the opportunities and feasibility? Or is it just a passing dream still?

It took a lot for me to shift my view from "Can I do it?" to "I can do it" (ugh, I know, so cheesy) but I'd say just try and erase the doubt that your age may be against you, and just pursue the opportunities you want regardless.

Sometimes luck can be on your side as much as anything. I say this - 3 months ago I was in a job I was fairly unhappy with, that didn't offer what it promised, and wasn't ever going to. But I earned a decent amount, life was generally okay and I just carried on. Off the cuff, I saw an advert for a job on one of those annoying banner ads (see right for example). Sounded too good to be true. Interviews, job offer, settled... so much happier. A lot more money, responsibility, getting to do research type work and my work hours are a lot less. But it was just having that "well, I've got nothing to lose..." approach that helped me through!

(Sorry for the ramble, am in the middle of moving and have half packed boxes all over the place)


I think your age might not be the issue you think for academic jobs if your cv is good. After all they'd get over twenty years work out of you! The question though that seemed to hit the more mature PhD students who I know, was whether they were prepared to uproot and move long distances for even short-term contracts (which tends to be the reality of ann early academic career) - many just couldn't do it for varying reasons so unless they were unusually lucky and a position opened up locally in their specialism they were stuck.
I think you're absolutely right to look beyond hourly paid / fractional contract teaching as it really isn't a sustainable longterm way to earn a living if it's your only source of income. But if you do pursue admin roles I just wanted to suggest that there's admin jobs and admin jobs in the university. If you went for widening participation, international office, careers or even marketing roles, I think it would be less office-based than say the registrar's office.
And like the others, why not Australia? Were you thinking of emigrating or a gap year type thing? Go into all the options and then at least you'll know you gave it a good shot if it didn't work out. What about applying for a postdoc there?

Avatar for Eska

Thank you all for you lovely responses, very helpful and encouraging, as usual.

I would like to go to Australia for my academic career, so a post-doc would be great. I think it's the place to be for new academics.

I agree that I have a lot of years left, I would like to work until I can't any more - like my dad who still works at 71 and going strong, but am not sure if employers will see it that way...

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======= Date Modified 14 Aug 2012 19:42:20 =======
Another double posting! Soz