Being Stepping-Stone Smart


This blog is dedicated to careers development of postgraduate researchers (PhDs), who often are on the move, crossing different countries, potentially multiple Higher and Further Education registry offices, away from their home countries, pursuing SOMETHING SOMEWHERE ELSE…

Sometimes you know clearly what THAT SOMETHING is. At other times the glaring distant object has moved far beyond the horizon, leaving you with no direction, or ANY DIRECTION to face towards. And finally, there might be too many directions you could go, and maybe you are in each of these, and perhaps that is not good enough either.

In this blog I will supply fresh ideas, support and guidance to your doorstep on possible postgraduate researcher transitions, migration,and above maintaining own well-being through all of these experiences.

What can you find here?

  • MY FOCUS to SUPPORT, EMPOWER and ENERGISE postgraduate researchers facing personal and professional transitions

  • Daily updates on my own transitions due to my most recent change of countries & migration for LOVE from the UK to Belgium

  • A reminder about one of the most important parts of pursuing a doctorate and careers afterwards – a personal well-being and looking after oneself! 

  • TIPS & RESOURCES for your professional and personal life transitioning across countries and careers (with some decisions as quick as jumping off the plane, and others taking a little bit longer, e.g. as long as climbing up a mountain…)

  • Latest news on graduate labour market situation in post-Brexit UK and beyond (oh Canada, Justin Trudeau and recent intensive PRO-immigration politics…)

  • You can share your migration |career directions here – HOW you got to where you are, risks you took and fears you faced, ups and downs…

  • Contact me to receive my personal support and guidance in your migration, mobilities and careers whereabouts

  • …you can also just say hello!





How it all started

I was on this space once before, just after I completed my doctorate in Human Geography, titled: “Stepping-stone migration: Polish graduates in the UK”. 

The aim of my doctoral research was to deepen the understanding of what happens to individuals who graduate in their home country and move to another, within the the post-2004 EU on the example of Polish graduates who migrated to England.

The research was undertaken in 2011 and is based on 40 in-depth interviews with Polish graduates of their home country universities and aged between 22-35 years old. In general terms – Millennials on the move across Europe and beyond and diverse HE institutions along the way.

The study shows that graduate migration to another country leads to differing approaches to career and life trajectory development after migration.

Although, graduates’ transitions from university to employment are individualised, it was possible to identify patterns in the ways in which they approached and negotiated their career progression.

I conceptualise (Szewczyk, 2013) these using the following typology: ‘Continuers’, ‘Switchers’, and ‘Late Awakeners’  with dynamism and slippage across the groupings. Such typology may have wider resonance to other graduate migrant cohorts in Europe and beyond.

A few references below.

Szewczyk, A. (2015) ‘European Generation of Migration’: Change and Agency in the post-2004 Polish graduates’ migratory experience’, Geoforum.

Szewczyk, A. (2014) Polish Graduates and British Citizenship: Amplification of the Potential Mobility Dynamics beyond Europe, Mobilities.

Szewczyk, A. (2013) Continuation or Switching? Career patterns of Polish graduates in England, Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Szewczyk, A. (2013), Stepping-stone migration. Polish graduate migrants in England. Doctoral thesis at Loughborough University

Szewczyk, A. (2012), New and Old Middle Class Polish Graduates’ ‘Brain Training’ in England, Studia Migracyjne – Przegląd Polonijny, PAN, z.3 (145), 151-166

My experience of working within the area of Researcher Development 

After my PhD at Loughborough University in the UK, I worked at the University of the West of England as a researcher in geography department, followed with professional roles of strategy and planning officer in careers office, where I continued conducting research on students and graduates’ careers.

Following that, I became appointed to the role of a researcher development manager at the University of the West of England. During that time, I experienced first handed the needs of diverse cohorts of postgraduate researchers (e.g part-time and full-time) in terms of skills training, as well as need for one to one support to help them balance study-work-life patterns, and do not loose sight of their well-being.



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