Episode #221

Career Stage 3: Planting Your Flag

Welcome to episode three of my podcast series, The Real Stages of the Academic Career. Today, I am discussing the ‘Planting Your Flag’ stage closely linked to tenure. 


Planting Your Flag is a crucial stage because it revolves around declaring your academic mission and showing why you’re indispensable to your institution. This stage can be high-stakes and nerve-wracking, but it’s also empowering as you refine the articulation of your work and academic voice.


In this episode, I advise how to approach different aspects of academia, such as writing, research, and time management, in the Plant Your Flag career stage. I also discuss what relationships should look like and ways to shift partnership dynamics that no longer contribute to your growth. 


Remember to tune in next week as I unveil the next academic career stage: ‘Building Your Legacy.’


What is the ‘Planting Your Flag’ Career Stage?

The third academic career stage is ‘Planting Your Flag.’ Closely linked to tenure, this career stage is focused on proving your indispensability to your institution and as an academic in your field. You are working independently from an advisor or mentor and are now teaching and mentoring a team of your own. A finalized academic mission statement is crucial at this career stage.

How to Approach Different Aspects of Academia in This Career Stage

Writing Practice: Instead of falling victim to the scarcity or “more is more” mentality, believe that curating publications based on your academic mission is more impactful. Part of telling the story about your career is being selective about what you publish. So, carefully consider the message you put into the world and always align your publications with your mission statement.

Research: Your research should be clear and easily articulated. At this stage, your academic mission statement is solidified and is the sole guide of your study. 

Time Management: Time management strategies must be adjusted as you progress in your career. Consider new, up-level time management strategies that allow for work-life balance and a fluid publication pipeline. 

Grant Writing/Funding: Apply for grants that support your academic mission statement. Do not waste time trying to secure funding that doesn’t align with the focus of research and publications.

Relationships in this Career Stage

Advisor: The most important relationship is the one with your inner mentor. Foster self-trust by listening to your gut, believing in your inherent value, and being confident in your academic voice. If you maintain an advisor/advisee relationship with your mentor, it will eat away at your self-trust and hold you back. Now, it is necessary to be completely independent from your former advisor.

Mentees/Students: Think of building a team as you mentor and teach. At this stage, your work is rippling out and affecting the people around you. It is crucial to allow and encourage people to buy in and support your academic mission. Embrace that you are changing the lives of others through their work with you.

Colleagues/Peers: You should have a core group of colleagues and peers you want to work with. These should be fruitful and nourishing partnerships. Do not tolerate co-authors who are not pulling their weight.


What most people are worried about in the Planting Your Flag state is numbers. You are worried about the mysterious number of publications that will get you promoted. But, your energy and effort would be more usefully placed in really understanding your academic mission. Focus on who you want to be, what you want the world to know about you, and the mark you want to make on your field and publishing things related to that and only related to that.”


When you’re thinking about your writing during the Planting Your Flag career stage, really think about curation, think about selectivity, and think about writing an academic mission statement and then publishing things that support that statement. Then your publications will tell your career story.”


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.






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