At the turn of the year, I thought I would write a quick blog reflecting on the year that has been and the year that is to come.
The start of 2015 was marked by attending the annual AGCAS Heads of Service conference in Warwick. At the conference I met Charlie Ball (who writes the excellent High Peak Data blog) and we discussed graduate employment, mobility and DLHE (destination of leavers from higher education) data. Following that conversation I gained access to the DLHE data for graduates from Orkney and Shetland for five years, which suggested some interesting patterns and avenues for further research.
In February I was invited to Holyrood to discuss social mobility with key figures from business and industry along with Annabelle Ewing MSP. This was my first visit to Holyrood, and a bit of a foray into politics and policy discourse – something I hope to do more of in the future as my ideas continue to grow about how policy can support the careers needs of rural communities.
In March I delivered my annual video-conference session to the QCG (Qualification in Career Guidance) course at Napier University on rural and remote guidance. I always love this session – working with the guidance practitioners of the future to raise awareness of rural and remote issues and to discuss ways of overcoming geographical distance in the delivery of guidance through the use of technology.
At the beginning of the year I had only really just started my data collection for the PhD – the survey was still open, and by May I had started interviewing students from Orkney and Shetland. This was probably the highlight of the year – such a lot of interesting conversations! Also in May I attended the Orkney Research in Progress conference run by the Heritage society, which was a really fun conference with such a disparate group of speakers all researching aspects of Orkney. I loved hearing about research from completely different disciplines to my own including archaeology and cultural studies. I also published my first peer-reviewed journal paper on island careers in May in Shima (the international journal of research into island cultures).
Then in summer I attended the RETI conference (held in Orkney, hosted by the Centre for Nordic Studies), and the ECADOC summer school in Paris. Both of these were great, and gave me the opportunity to meet so many interesting people from the island studies and careers guidance research communities. By the time I was in Paris I was heavily pregnant and beginning to struggle with day to day activities, thankfully my partner came too – the joys of being a PhD spouse! – and helped with everything from carrying bags, to cheering me up when the temperature hit 40 degrees and I couldn’t sleep in our non-air-conditioned apartment…
The final few weeks of July were focused in a mad transcription-frenzy, to get all the transcriptions of the interviews done before finally little baby Alexander-Hume was born in late August. Since then I have finalised a paper for Graduate Market Trends on the destinations of higher education students from Orkney and Shetland (published in October) and have submitted another paper for the Island Studies Journal (based on the paper I presented at the RETI conference in June). I have also started to plan for my activities next year, submitting a couple of abstracts for conferences and preparing the survey to send to my research participants in January.
So what will 2016 bring? I hope more conferences and fortuitous meetings – and hopefully a trip down to the International Centre for Guidance Studies at Derby University at some point to meet my supervisors. By the end of 2016 I should also have finished my data collection, so by this time next year I hope to be in the full-on analysis phase of my research. I also hope that I will find ways of balancing my work and studies alongside raising a one-year old!
So that’s my 2015 and hopes for 2016, I hope you have all had a happy and productive 2015, and that 2016 brings lots more good things for us all 🙂
Happy New Year!