Before the complaints come rolling in, the title of this blog post doesn't refer to the socially unacceptable activities that are often attributed to men in raincoats, rather it refers to the practice of getting one's name out there and becoming known within the department.
The importance of exposing oneself throughout your academic career is something that is only appreciated when you see the result of this exposure. This result can be very satisfying, as people will typically look at you in a very different way after you have put some serious effort into exposing yourself. Obviously exposing oneself comes with risks, but I am of the belief that these risks are far outweighed by the long-term benefits. I think that many students don’t expose themselves enough, so I thought I’d offer some thoughts on how best to go about exposing yourself:
Exposing yourself is really quite simple, but requires a bit of courage. It is all about getting involved in the department and the research area in which you contribute. Whether this be at a low level by introducing yourself to the senior academics that you may come into contact with (your lecturers), or at a high level by presenting your work at conferences where you will no doubt rub shoulders with the great minds in your field, exposing yourself is all about creating a presence and making yourself known.
I know of undergraduate students that are exposing themselves already, even without having reached postgraduate study. Whether it be by doing research assistant work for any number of academics, or acting as student representatives (and sitting on committees with senior academics), these practices get you known as a ‘somebody’ in the department. Some students even have the courage to attend conferences, even without having work to present. The more of this you do, the more you come to understand what being an academic involves, and the more opportunities may open up.
As a final point, and hopefully to drive home the importance of exposing yourself throughout your academic career, I once heard a senior academic frame the benefits of exposing oneself in this way:
“If you were looking to hire a new researcher and had two resumes on your desk which were identical in every way, but you knew one of the applicants (and liked them), which applicant would you hire?”
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