Interview with Tracy Bussoli: Queen Mary Researchers Career Blog

Last year I interviewed Tracy Bussoli about the blog that she ran at Queen Mary University of London. This was a really good careers blog for researchers. Unfortunately I then lost the interview and haven’t posted it. But, I found it again and put it up. Unfortunately Tracy has now moved on and the blog isn’t being updated any more. But, it is presented here because Tracy’s interview provides some really interesting insights into blogging.

Queenmary

AiCD:  Introduce yourself

My name is Tracy Bussoli and I am the Careers Adviser for Researchers at Queen Mary University of London. I support PhD students and research staff (mainly from the Science and Engineering) in developing both academic careers and careers outside academia. I have a PhD in genetics and was a post-doctoral researcher for a short period. Prior to this post I worked in the NHS as a Genetic Counsellor for eight years as well as doing some free-lance career coaching work. I am also a consultant in a family, property developing business and have worked for Shell and Natwest Bank.

Tracy

AiCD: Tell us about your blog.

My blog was set up shortly after I took on the role as Careers Adviser for Researchers at Queen Mary. I decided to set it up following an inspiring talk from Manchester Careers Service at a Vitae conference. They talked about the success of their postgraduate careers blog and how it allowed them to disseminate information to postgraduates in a style that was separate from the more generic institutional website.

I find that I frequently come across snippets of information or have ideas that I want to disseminate to the researchers that I see. My blog enables me to do this. I use my blog to post career ideas, resources and tools that I feel would be helpful for researchers as Queen Mary. It is essentially an organised ‘brain dump!’

Blog

AiCD: What technology do you use?

My blog uses the WordPress platform. I started off using blogger but I found that I was unable to organise the information in an effective way e.g. there are no tabs at the top of the page on blogger.

My blog also has a twitter feed where I post any interesting jobs that I come across during my research. The more people follow me on twitter, the more encouraged I am to add interesting jobs to my twitter site. The idea is to illustrate the diversity of roles that are available to people with research backgrounds rather than be a dedicated jobs board.

AiCD: How often do you update?

In fits and starts really. As my post at QM is part-time I am often busy interacting with researchers face to face. I do not always get enough time to post all my thoughts, resources and ideas. I often have a list of articles that I want to add but sometimes do not get the time!

AiCD: Who do you think reads it?

Early Careers Researchers from Queen Mary, other Early Career Researchers and Careers Advisers working with Early Career Researchers….probably. From some of the comments left on the blog, other random people also read it from time to time.

AiCD: What are the particular challenges about writing for a high skill audience like researchers

The audience that I write for are highly skilled but I do not feel that this is the main challenge. They come from a variety of countries, are researching across many disciplines and range from 1st year PhD students to more senior post-docs. This presents a number of challenges in terms of what I write about. I try to ensure that the posts have broad appeal, covering career issues that are relevant, irrespective of where people are in their research career. Catering for such a diverse group of highly skilled people is generally a challenge in my work with researchers, in both the workshops that I deliver and career consultations.

AiCD: What is it about you that makes you think people should pay attention to what you blog about

I am not sure if it is me specifically that makes them pay attention to my blog. Having said this, I think that many people start using my blog once they have met me at workshops or at the career consultations that I deliver.

Although I attempt to cover areas related to science and engineering, I think there is probably more of a life-science focus as that is my background and I think that I am naturally more inclined to focus on this. In addition, although I do not feel that you need to have a PhD to offer effective careers advice, I do think that researchers are more likely to engage with someone that has a similar background to them. I probably see more life scientists than other early career researchers and this may be because people know that I was a life scientist.

AiCD: What have been the best things about blogging so far

Having a thought, coming across a resource, attending a talk and then getting this information to researchers quickly before I forget! I also enjoy writing online and it has given me the opportunity to do this.

AiCD: What are the downsides?

The constant pressure to keep the blog up to date!

AiCD: Do you think blogging will ever replace conventional careers advice/education?

I do not think that any online resource (social networking, blogs etc.) can ever substitute for the type of support/help/guidance that you can gain from seeing a skilled careers adviser. If clients see an individual for careers advice/education the service can be adapted and tailored depending on the client’s needs. A careers adviser can offer many things that an on-line service can not e.g. alternative perspectives on a situation, clarity about a situation/dilemma, feedback on skills/ strengths, emotional support ……the list goes on.

I think online resources such as blogs can enhance a careers service. Labour market information, psychometric and careers tools and many other resources are a very useful supplement to a careers service.

AiCD: What blogs do you read?

The other postgraduate careers blogs that are listed on my blog and the blogs on my blogroll. I use these as a source of inspiration and to keep me up-to-date with career resources for researchers.

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