Jenna Condie is a doctoral candidate, a part-time researcher at Salford and PsyPag Information Officer; she tweets as @jennacondie and is interested in entrepreneurship and intrepreneurship. She has been at Salford since 2007 and works on ‘How people make sense of - and negotiate living in - ‘disruptive’ places, with focus on living near railways’
“I first came to the University of Salford in 2007 to work as a research assistant for SHUSU, Salford Housing and Urban Studies Unit. I assisted on a number of social research projects focused on the broad bases of social exclusion, community cohesion and community engagement. Much of this work involved working with ‘hard to reach’ and under-represented communities such as Gypsies and Travellers and migrant workers from Central and Eastern Europe.
“SHUSU then collaborated with the Acoustics Research Centre on a DEFRA-funded project exploring how people respond to vibration in residential environments from sources such as railways and construction activities.
“I was the research assistant on the DEFRA project when the opportunity came along to do a PhD attached to the project. I had graduated with a first class honours in Psychology from the University of Huddersfield in 2005, so the timing felt right to start my postgraduate studies. In July 2008 I started my PhD on a DTA (Doctoral Training Account) funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). My environmental psychological research is exploring how people make sense of and negotiate living in ‘disruptive’ places, specifically focusing on living near railways.
“As soon as I started my PhD, I realised the opportunities being a postgraduate offered. Alongside my postgraduate research, I lectured at both the University’s School of Social Work, Psychology & Public Health and the University of Huddersfield.
“I am a committee member for PsyPAG, a national organisation for psychology postgraduates in the UK. I have represented postgraduate issues on the Qualitative Methods in Psychology (QMiP) Section of the British Psychological Society (BPS); I have also represented PsyPAG’s for the North West of England Branch of the BPS, and am now PsyPAG’s Information Officer. Involvement with these committees has broadened my knowledge of how higher education works, of the current issues facing psychology as a discipline, and has also provided me with plenty of opportunities to create, collaborate, make contacts, and strengthen my network.
“I’ve also found that the postgraduate community really embrace the concept of the modern researcher with new ways of carrying out research and engaging with people. At Salford, I have been encouraged to use online technologies to spread the word about my research and to manage my online presence. I have set up a blog through the university’s Virtual Doctoral School and have joined the tweeting academics on Twitter (@jennacondie).
“Studying at the University of Salford has also sparked my interest in enterprise and academic entrepreneurship. In 2010, the university secured ten places for Salford postgraduates to attend the North West Enterprise School. Along with nine other Salford postgraduates, I attended the four-day residential course and cannot stress enough how much the enterprise school changed my outlook and approach to research and my future career. I was part of REDS (Researcher Enterprise Development at Salford) who ran a series of events in 2010-2011 to encourage and develop entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial skills amongst Salford’s early career researchers. The REDS team also established the ‘Salford PhDs’ Facebook community. A fellow postgrad student and I – with the help and support of University staff - have also set up a company, an academic and commercial portal that provides access to specific skills, knowledge and expertise.
“I’ll be honest and say I often find myself outside of my comfort zone – presenting at conferences, pitching ideas, organising events and workshops, a blog post today and a podcast tomorrow. Doing a PhD and all the other activities you get involved in is all part of a massive learning curve.
"I feel very fortunate to have had supportive supervisors who recognise that it’s not all about the PhD – it’s about ensuring you are employable once it’s complete whether that’s in academia, industry, or maybe both.”