Dr Jonathan Bashi was until recently a Research Officer at the LSE Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa and is now a Lecturer in the Department of Law at SOAS. This blog explores the career journey of Dr Jonathan Bashi prior to and following his appointment at LSE…
Establishing a portfolio
As a Research Officer at the LSE’s Firoz Lalji Institute for Africa, Jonathan wrote policy papers and research articles. In this role, he contributed to the Trade Policy Programme by conducting original research on international trade law, trade policy, and political economy in the African context. The Centre is like an academic department in that producing academic articles is one of its goals. His work experience prior to LSE spreads across various sectors, with roles in higher education, in the private sector, as well as in international development, including more recently as a consultant for UKAid, a private sector development programme in D.R. Congo implemented by Adam Smith International. His research focused on the correlation between international law, regional integration, and development.
Building your reputation
As well as zig zagging across sectors, the shape of Jonathan’s career is also interesting in terms of levels of seniority. He has moved up and down seniority scales while moving around the world. As Head of Department in his University in D.R. Congo, he held significant responsibility, prestige, and position – all of which he exchanged for a role in the UK higher education sector.
Jonathan credits a series of chance events for shaping his career so far. He acted on suggestions made by people he respected and thus gained opportunities to study overseas and to provide consultancy for UKAid. Weaving together key skills, multiple languages, prior experience, and his positive outlook, he was able to follow suggestions which landed him jobs he had not foreseen or even known about. Opportunities came via contacts he had made; people who know the value of his ability and trusted the contributions he could make were willing to recommend and refer him to other people. Additionally, as an international student, Jonathan had to navigate the visa requirements and conventions of the different places he worked. He took opportunities as they arose and continued to build his experience and reputation.
Working in academia
It’s worth noting that the pace of academic publishing is slow, and patience was required for Jonathan to see his PhD project appear as a book 18 months after securing the contract. During this time, Jonathan was also busy attending conferences, building networks, and seeking postdoc positions. All these experiences eventually fed into the applications he made for academic jobs in the UK. Biding his time, his tenacity paid off and he began to make applications that secured him a place on short lists for interview, but the application process also needs learning. Presenting yourself effectively on paper and at interview is more complicated than it may seem, and Jonathan appreciated help with this from a variety of sources. It is a learning process and takes time to make great applications and prepare excellent interview presentation. Academic interviews involve a particular type of selection process and Jonathan’s advice for students is to seek help.
Over to you
Career is a process of learning and adapting. How are you learning to navigate the conventions of the fields you might want to join? How much can you foresee adapting shaping your career?
LSE Careers is here to help…