During an important career focused panel session one day at the EAA Doctoral Colloquium in Valencia this year, I found myself thinking “how does a PhD student from the University of Graz navigate himself to become an Accounting Professor?” The path is not always clear and there is a great deal of competition, but this Colloquium was fundamental in starting me on the right path. I am quite sure that I wasn’t the only person in that room thinking this and since that day a lot of great things have happened to me. For this reason, I was asked to write a short blog about my experiences. I don’t know exactly what the future holds for me, however, I can see more clearly now how things may unfold and I have gained a great deal of confidence on how I can be successful in pursuit of my goal.
The first step was my application for the EAA Doctoral Colloquium (see for details http://www.eiasm.org/frontoffice/event_announcement.asp?event_id=1306). To receive an invitation to participate in this highly selective Doctoral Colloquium is in itself a signal about the high quality of your work and adds tremendously to your academic CV. More importantly, the chance to spend a couple of days in such a stimulating research environment comes with several great opportunities. Firstly, you can present your research idea to at least three senior faculty members. The time slot for focused discussion of your paper is over an hour! Your own presentation-time is about 15-20 minutes, which leaves ample time to benefit from the comments of your Colloquium colleagues and those of senior faculty members, all of whom have carefully read your paper. Keep in mind that you will receive comments from researchers who are editors of the top journals in our field and that all the other talented students in your group will have come from a different background and see your work from a different angle. Incorporating their comments will add another layer to your work of which you may not have previously thought about. This in the end will help you make your research more attractive to a broader audience, which in the long-run will increase your chances to publish in a high quality journal. Secondly, you will have the opportunity to contribute to other young scholars' works by providing feedback to them. It is important that academics surround themselves with like-minded people and the more value added comments you make in discussion sessions about a fellow researchers’ work, the more valuable you yourself are as a researcher. At the colloquium, you have the chance to convince people that you can be an important asset within the research environment. This is a quality that, if made visible, will probably greatly improve your career opportunities.
The colloquium did not only offer individuals the chance to develop their research network within Europe, but also beyond that. For example, a fellow PhD student and good friend of mine received an invitation from a senior faculty member for a research visit at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill due to his performance at the doctoral colloquium. I was also very fortunate and was selected to represent the EAA at the Doctoral Consortium of the American Accounting Association in Dallas, which was another great experience. Prior to these two events, I did not have any international research connections and completely relied upon the network of faculty members at my home university. Since then, I have managed to organize two research visits at renowned US-schools, which will hopefully further expand my network and bring me another step closer to my goal of becoming a successful scholar.
Maybe the greatest thing about my overall experience during these two events, however, was the relaxed and friendly atmosphere throughout. All of the participants - be it faculty members or PhD students - were really open and approachable during research sessions, panel sessions and social events. I was able to engage in a lot of interesting and inspiring conversations that have really motivated me to pursue a career in academia. So, what should you do now to help yourself become a top-scholar in the field of accounting someday? Of course, I am still trying to figure out the answer, but I am convinced that participating in the EAA Doctoral Colloquium is a huge step in the right direction.