Creativity, Time Management & Early Career Researcher Life – MYHE 004

Studying for a PhD can be lonely work. When you focus on new research and making findings for the first time, it’s hard to find many people to share your excitement with.

That’s not stopping my guest on today’s Mind Your Higher Ed.

Early career researcher, Rachael Lamb, joins me on the show to discuss not only how she’s being supported in her postgraduate research role, but also how she’s working to help undergraduate students in their work too.

Rachael is looking at creativity in the workplace for her PhD. And she is keen to point out that age doesn’t matter in the lifelong learning process. Being an Early Career Researcher doesn’t always mean it must happen early in your career.

After spending 15 years working in corporate communications, Rachael has returned to higher education and is very happy with her experience so far. In this episode, we discuss what has changed in Rachael’s learning journey, and she helps me get an insight into the joys and challenges in her role at the University of Nottingham.

You can find Rachael at, where she helps students to excel in their study. You can also find her on Twitter, Instagram, and on a brand new Facebook group called Study Write Now.

Mind Your Higher Ed - MYHE

What You’ll Hear

  • What it’s like to return to higher education from the corporate world.
  • Why disciplined time management is a must when you’re juggling research and teaching undergraduates.
  • How academic language can be a beast…and how to tame it.
  • Where creativity and higher education meet up.
  • And much more…

If you can’t see the embedded player, here’s the direct link to the show.

Shownotes & Timestamps

02:20 – What is an early career researcher?
03:40 – Tackling the sometimes lonely PhD journey.
04:50 – How supervisors help when working on a PhD.
05:50 – Rachael works on creativity in the workplace. Does she see many gaps in the current literature?
06:50 – The possibility of universities and businesses collaborating more around creativity.
07:50 – Juggling deadlines and managing time, especially when dealing with students too.
10:20 – Rachael on her website for students (, and how students can find the transition leap daunting. Some aspects of the student journey are different now, but plenty will remain the same.
14:20 – The investment that universities go to providing many useful academic resources.
16:00 – The difficulties of academic language, even when studying for a PhD. Rachael gives a great suggestion for writing a mini-dictionary for ready reference.
17:30 – How have undergraduate students helped Rachael on her own learning journey?
18:50 – Does working on creativity in the workplace improve Rachael’s own creativity? Rachael talks about the joy of studying for a PhD and how she perceives creativity now.
22:20 – To what extent does higher education represent creativity?
24:00 – The support universities give to postgraduates, as well as the areas in which difficulties can arise.
26:10 – When working on the cusp of knowledge, there aren’t too many people to have conversations with about it. Rachael on the highs and the lows of the PhD process.
28:00 – Students are “all in the same boat” way beyond the first year. The common problems that Rachael keeps hearing again and again.
31:20 – Is higher education more competitive or collaborative? Rachael has been especially surprised by one thing in particular.
34:00 – Creativity can come about through both competition and collaboration.
35:20 – Our experiences of Apollo 13. Both the mission and the film.
37:10 – #LoveHE and being an advocate of lifelong learning. How we change over time as individuals. A “constant process of learning and growing as a person”.
40:50 – It’s not just HE policy that the sector has to deal with. Other issues local, nationally, and globally, can all make a mark and require a reponse.
44:10 – “You’re never to old to go back and continue with your studying.”

Music is by “From the Dust” and released under Creative Commons. Check out their music at

Who Would You Like to Hear on the Show?

Whether an Early Career Researcher or a Professor Emeritus, I’d love to know who you’d like to feature as a guest on Mind Your Higher Ed. Be creative!

If there’s someone in particular you’d like to know more about in HE, let me know.

Give your suggestions by leaving a comment or by getting in touch via Twitter. Find me there @universityboy

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I am a writer, who also runs TheUniversityBlog. If that site isn't enough of a clue, I have a love of all things Higher Education. I'm also interested in learning about learning about learning about learning...let's get meta!

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