Episode #220

Career Stage 2: Stepping Into Your Own

Welcome back to the ongoing series on the real stages of the academic career! In the last episode, I introduced the apprenticeship stage. Today, I am focusing on “Stepping Into Your Own,” a pivotal phase where scholars begin to carve out their unique identities separate from their advisors. 


The ‘Stepping Into Your Own’ stage is complex, demanding, and most importantly, your chance to define who you are and what you want to represent as a scholar. I advise navigating the tension between completing old projects and pursuing new directions. I also discuss the necessity of redefining relationships with your advisor, students, and peers. For each facet of the ‘Stepping Into Your Own’ career stage, I share do’s and don’ts and what to expect as you begin to make your mark in your field!


What is the ‘Stepping Into Your Own’ Career Stage?

The ‘Stepping Into Your Own’ career stage follows apprenticeship. It is when scholars step out from under the wing of their advisor and begin following their own academic mission statement. From navigating relationship dynamics to conquering a neverending publication pipeline, this career stage is equally challenging and rewarding.


How to Approach Different Aspects of Academia in This Career Stage

Writing Practice: There will be tension between wanting to finish old projects started with your advisor and a drive to begin new research. To succeed, you must implement systems and processes to avoid a clogged publication pipeline.

Research: Let your academic mission statement guide your research.

Time Management: Acknowledge the workload will be heavy. You are in a new and complex career stage that may feel out of control sometimes. Embrace career seasonality, develop a productive workflow, and learn to establish boundaries around your time.

Grant Writing/Funding: Now is the time to learn how to ask for funding. Underscoring your dedication to the institution and your field will make you successful.


Relationships in this Career Stage

Advisor: Your value is not connected to your advisor. Whether you had a great relationship with your mentor or a tumultuous one, it is necessary to redefine the relationship to be one of your colleagues. Overemphasis on mentorship stops you from trusting yourself. Don’t let your advisor be your crutch!

Mentees/Students: Your relationship with students can (and should) look very different from your relationship with your advisor. Leverage your work with students to align with your academic mission statement. Seek mentees who are invested in your mission. Then, create a nurturing and positive environment. 

Colleagues/Peers: Be highly selective in who you partner with on publications. While credentials are helpful, it is more important to find people who align with and believe in your mission. In addition, consider factors like dependability, timeliness, and work styles.


You might have the belief at the ‘Stepping Into Your Own’ career stage that the reason that you are valuable is because of your connection to your advisor.  I’m here to tell you that is not true. The reason that you are valuable at this stage is because you are inherently valuable, of course, and that your work on its own is valuable.”


There is tension between the old stuff that’s in your pipeline, which is your low hanging fruit, and new things that are more aligned with developing your new identity, which you absolutely need to do in order to get to the next stage. That’s the problem. What often happens is you’ll start to get this pipeline clog or back up because you want to work on the new things that you’re thinking about, but the things that are almost close to being submitted are holding you back. You can do a combination of both.”


We’ve opened the waitlist for our next cohort of Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap®. Check out the program details and get on the waitlist here.



  1. Our 12-week Navigate: Your Writing Roadmap® program helps tenure-track womxn and nonbinary professors to publish their backlog of papers so that their voice can have the impact they know is possible. Get on the waitlist here!
  2. Cathy’s book, Making Time to Write: How to Resist the Patriarchy and Take Control of Your Academic Career Through Writing is available in print! Learn how to build your career around your writing practice while shattering the myths of writing every day, accountability, and motivation, doing mindset work that’s going to reshape your writing, and changing academic culture one womxn and nonbinary professor at a time. Get your print copy today or order it for a friend here!
  3. Want to train with us for free on your campus? Now you can when you recommend our Scholar’s Voice™ Faculty Retreats to a decision-maker on your campus! Download the brochure with the retreat curriculum and both in-person and online retreat options here.
  4. If you would like to hear more from Cathy for free, please subscribe to the weekly newsletter, In the Pipeline, at scholarsvoice.org. It’s a newsletter that she personally writes that goes out once a week with writing and publication tips, strategies, inspiration, book reviews and more.






Stay current in Academic Publishing

Subscribe to our newsletter:

In the Pipeline

writing tips, publishing trends, reading recomendations, free workshops

In The Pipeline Newsletter

Send me Writer's Retreat updates by email!

Send me Writer's Retreat updates by email!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Get Your Cheat Sheet!

Get the PDF Cheat Sheet right to your inbox!

Check your email to find your cheat sheet!

Skip to content
We use cookies in order to give you the best possible experience on our website. By continuing to use this site, you agree to our use of cookies.