Dr Jayne Glass
My past and my present
I chose to study at UHI in 2007 because I wanted to live and work in the Highlands and develop as an academic at a well-regarded research institution. I had a conundrum before starting my UHI degree: I really wanted to live near the mountains (I am a keen rock climber and my husband is a Mountain Instructor) but couldn't imagine how to pursue a rewarding career away from the cities. This may have been because a lot of the career guidance I have received in the past from other institutions (particularly at undergraduate level) focussed on graduate jobs centred around private and public industries often located in urban areas. Taking a research degree at UHI has enabled me to live where I want to while working towards a career-developing qualification in a high-class research environment. Throughout the PhD, I presented my work at conferences, engaged regularly with other researchers and stakeholders, and undertook training courses that gave me a well-rounded set of transferable skills.
I received my PhD in the summer of 2011 and I’m now employed at the Centre for Mountain Studies as a full-time Research Associate. I’m writing and editing a book about land ownership in Scotland’s uplands, which is compiling the work done by myself and colleagues at the Centre. I’m also enjoying being involved in knowledge exchange activities, feeding back the results of my work and other research to stakeholders and the wider public. Over the next couple of years I would like to develop as a researcher, as well as gain more teaching experience. I’m becoming more and more interested (and passionate) about public engagement in research and more generally – this is an area of research that I plan to pursue in more detail through my work and teaching at UHI.
I had always been interested in doing a PhD and following an academic career but the right opportunity had not come up (mainly in terms of the lifestyle that I wanted to lead, as I mentioned earlier). Being accepted as a PhD student and carrying out my research at UHI confirmed that I would like to follow this career path and I am regularly required to think about how my work, training and other activities may contribute to my overall plan.
When I started my undergraduate course at another university (in 2000), I wish I had known about the wide range of interesting and exciting careers that can be followed in rural areas. This may have encouraged me at an earlier stage to explore these possibilities and "think outside the box" a little more when making earlier career decisions.
I would encourage people to think about what motivates them the most and then seek advice/look for ideas about how they could translate that activity/interest into a career path. It’s great that the UHI Career Service understands the dynamics of the careers that could be followed in the Highlands and Islands and other areas and encourages students to "think outside the box" rather than follow what might be described as "normal" careers. There is so much more out there than the obvious!