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Crossing continents

How to build your academic career halfway around the world

In Europe and the United States, job openings for professors are scarce. In developing countries, on the other hand, there is a high demand for academics with PhDs to strengthen universities.

When my husband (from Ecuador, with a PhD from the USA) and I (Belgian, with a PhD from the Netherlands) were looking for a place to settle down, we thought our options through deeply.

Ecuador was an attractive option. The new rules for higher education institutions include, increasing the number of faculty members with PhDs at the Ecuadorian universities.

If you are a biologist, Ecuador is heaven for field work. The Galapagos, Amazon jungle, sweltering mangroves of the coast, and the snow-capped peaks of the Andean mountains host a variety of fauna and flora that make every biologist’s heart sing. It was not such an obvious choice for a structural engineer, never-the-less, I’ve found ways to advance my career, so here are seven tops for starting afresh in South America:

1. Pioneer

Don’t expect to find established labs. Instead, be prepared to pioneer and develop your own labs, fund your software licenses, and start your own ties to the industry. Learn to be the entrepreneur of your research career.

2. Teach beyond your university

Share the knowledge you obtain abroad. Offer to speak at industry events, to the broader public, at schools and at other universities. Bring attention to tpics that may be lacking in popularity, to raise concern.

3. Give back to local communities

Use the skills you learned during your studies to give back to your community at large. Volunteer for causes, with your technical knowledge – it is an element that is important for thee evaluation of the universities.

This is an excerpt of Seven tips for academics moving to Ecuador, originally published 22nd January 2018 on the Global Academy Jobs Blog.

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