Your Writing Roadmap®

All career stages

12-week online program

Navigate helps tenure track womxn and nonbinary professors double their publishing output in a year by implementing 10 essential time and project management/productivity systems with weekly support/ accountability of coaching and peers.


Scholar’s Voice Retreats

All career stages

Virtual (full-day/6 hours) or In Person (2 Days)

Scholar’s Voice Faculty Retreats is a professional development experience designed to inspire womxn and nonbinary faculty with the mindset and strategy to take control of their time by centering their writing and publishing.

Episode #190

The Stages Of The Academic Career (They’re Not What You Think)

The perceived stages of an academic career are very linear and do not capture the responsibilities, workload, or goals within a professorship. I have worked with hundreds of professors, so I have a unique perspective on the academic career. So, in today’s episode, I explain the REAL stages of a professorship.


Tune in as I compare and contrast the perceived stages of an academic career to the real stages. My goal is to shift your perspective about how you think about your professorship. After this episode, I hope you can check in with yourself and see where you are in your academic career and where you want to go. From there, you can see what you can check off as already done and where you need to put more energy, focus, and development to have the academic career you desire.

The Perceived Stages of an Academic Career

While the perceived stages have different names around the world, they all follow this checklist style of academic positions:

  • Doctoral degree
  • Post-doctoral degree
  • Tenure-track professorship
  • Tenue professor
  • Full professorship

The problem with using these perceived stages is that they do not relate to most academics’ real work or career journeys. As a result, it is easy for professors to become overwhelmed, over-committed, and ultimately lose sight of their academic purpose.

The Real Stages of an Academic Career

#1 Learning/Apprenticeship: During this stage, you are learning about your field, applying to research programs, and working with other faculty or mentors.

#2 Stepping Into Your Own: This is when you step out from under the wing of your advisor to create your work in your field.

#3 Planting Your Flag: As the most critical stage, this is a crucial time. You will declare your line of research and define what makes you valuable or unique to your institution.

#4 Build Your Legacy: Now, it’s time to multiply your efforts through the mentorship of faculty and students. You want to build structures that support your work and amplify impact within your institution.

#5 Enjoy Your Legacy: Ensure a sustainable future for your work.

Changes to Expect As You Move Through Career Stages

As your professorship progresses, you can expect to experience changes in the following areas:

  • The purpose and quality of your writing practice
  • Your relationship with mentors, students, colleagues, and peers
  • How you manage and prioritize your time
  • Your relationship to research
  • Your connection to grant writing

In many cases, academics are worrying about the wrong things. Use these markers to check in with yourself and the skills you need to develop for a sustainable career.


“The names of the track could be assistant professor, associate professor, tenured professor – there is a path wherever you are in the world. They might have different names or different ranks but truthfully these are just socially perceived. These are not the actual stages that people go through and not even in terms of the name of the job. So many people do more than one position. For example, some will be full-time researchers before they get a tenure track position. Many, many different things can happen and the path is truly not the same for every academic.”


“The reason to replace the perceived stages with language about what I consider to be the real stages is to talk about what’s happening. Because just saying which of the received stages you are on (early career, tenure, etc.) does not help us to identify the real work of those stages and that’s why I want to propose what I think the stages of the academic career actually are”


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.





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