13 Sep Jon Cartu Decides The hard-hit university sector is still a great fit for cur…
How long have you been doing this job and what first sparked your interest in this area?
I’ve been at UTS as a full-time academic for 18 years now. I was inspired by my honours supervisor. He saw my passion for teaching students and suggested I leave the accounting firm where I worked to pursue a career in higher education.
What do you like most about the job?
I love my students: the lightbulb moment of getting a tough concept, helping them develop new skills and new ways of thinking, and having their input on how I can help them learn and master the subject area.
What is the most unexpected thing you have had to do in your job?
I pitched the idea of a short film to help students become aware of academic integrity and academic misconduct. It was an amazing experience and the project won an Australian screen-writing award.
How transferable are your skills?
If I didn’t work at a university I could consider a career working in educational development at a professional association or a big firm.
What advice do you have for people wanting to get into this career?
You don’t need to decide about a career in academia straight away. Try out any subjects or an honours program that will allow you to have a taster of what research is like. Apply to be a peer tutor to have a taste of what teaching is like. It is a big step, but there are so many career options once you have a PhD – many outside of the walls of a university. I found that having professional work experience in accounting helped build my academic career. I could share my real life experiences and help bring the content in a textbook to life. I’ve also been able to bring my industry connections into the classroom.
The starting point for all accounting careers is a university or TAFE qualification in accounting. Then work on building experience through internships or volunteering and be sure to build your network through activities offered by the professional accounting bodies.
What should they study and what experience do they need to get into this field?
A PhD is the standard qualification for a full-time academic role in most universities these days. While you’re completing your PhD, I always recommend students try and get experience as a tutor to help build the teaching skills they’ll need in a general academic position. I also recommend undergraduate students take advantage of internships and vacation roles within practice (for example, accounting) so they can bring some real-world flavour to their research and classroom.
What personal skills do they need?
Self-direction is critical in higher education – you set your agenda in research and developing the educational offering that you teach – so you need to know what makes you curious. Compassion is also crucial as an educator, especially in pandemic times, where we help provide stability and belonging for students.