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A day in the life of a Assistant Professor in Turkey
Since before my time at York, I always loved History so I guess I was always going to end up as an historian, exam grades permitting of course.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work at Bilkent University, Ankara, Turkey. It is an English-medium university, and was the first private university in Turkey,
What do you do?
I lecture in European History, especially medieval history.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
Since before my time at York, I always loved History so I guess I was always going to end up as an historian, exam grades permitting of course. My being in Turkey was partly practical (there was a job in Medieval History advertised) and personal (I had taught myself some Turkish and Persian a few years earlier).
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
Describe your most memorable day at work
I'm not sure there's a single "memorable" day. I did work for almost 10 years, additionally, as the library director at my university, though I'm now back 100% in History; and the library was an interesting and very different experience -- a lot more based on meetings and people than lecturing and researching. I even spent a fair amount of time on the roof, dealing with leaks!
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
As a professional historian, I need to continue researching as well as teaching. For my research, which relates to medieval and early modern Britain, I need to spend time in archives during the summer.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
Very relaxed. As a "prof" I have a lot of leeway in designing my courses and pursuing my research, I can go for a whole day without seeing anyone (which is sometimes good, sometimes not!). At my university, we don't have many committees etc., which I know in the UK are more common for academics and take up their time.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
To be honest, I worked hard on my courses every day, but my extracurricular activities were mostly non-academic (focused on music and beer).
What would you like to do next with your career?
Generally, I am happy in my position and am not planning a major career change. Promotion is something I should perhaps be pursuing more. Also, as my daughter may be going to university in the UK soon, we are considering whether it would be better to relocate to the UK ourselves, particularly in these difficult days of COVID-19.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
My advice, which I always give to my own students, is to consider both the personal and practical perspectives. Imagine a 65-year old version of yourself and how s/he may feeling looking back on their life and career -- will s/he think that you made the best choices, or will s/he feel regrets. Now is your chance to make sure that future you will feel positively about your decisions. Try to balance what you enjoy and what motivates you, with the more practical but still important considerations such as money.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
Anything really... though I may not always give an answer! ;)
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