"Who am I? Navigating Professional Identity as an Ethnic Minority Early Career Academic


  • Kiu Sum


Finding the answer to my academic identity and a sense of belonging is something I have questioned since I just started my doctorate journey. It has been a question lingering in my mind with no clear answer where one will go after a few years of completing a PhD. Yet, without a doubt, the challenges I experienced demonstrate that constructing my identity in my discipline and the wider sector will be much more challenging than one would have hoped.


This reflection article aims to share a personal account of a doctoral researcher transitioning to an independent professional. Key aspects, such as their experience constructing their identity in their field, the professional developmental support as a doctoral researcher in preparation and during that transition, and the challenges with employment opportunities for the wider doctoral graduate community will be discussed. In addition to drawing on previous literature, provocative questions will be shared with the higher education sector to consider what more we can do to support the lives of postgraduate researchers after their doctorate to support their sense of belonging.


Championing that early career professionals need to have the graduates' attributes to make it in the "real world" is one thing. But the support to meet individual needs is another. Having the right skills and experiences is difficult and valuable. Yet, do we know if our graduates are fully ready to become independent professionals in the real world?


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How to Cite

Sum, K. (2024). "Who am I? Navigating Professional Identity as an Ethnic Minority Early Career Academic. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 5(2), 13–23. Retrieved from https://sehej.raise-network.com/raise/article/view/1197

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