Picture your career

Posted on: 15 March 2024 by Dr Elizabeth Adams (Number of words: 424; Read time: 2 minutes, 7 seconds) in Blog posts

Portrait of Elizabeth Adams
Dr Elizabeth Adams

Dr Elizabeth Adams, Career and Leadership Coach, explores the career-impacting power of creative collaging.

When I look back, I can remember some of the first careers advice I ever received (mainly from family members). Some of it was explicit (e.g. creative subjects are for hobbies and need to get a ‘proper job’) And some of it was implicit (e.g. get your head down and work hard but also be prepared for redundancies and be flexible in how you apply your skills).  

As with any advice, some of it was good, some bad. But until I started working in career coaching, I didn’t realise how I had internalised some of these ideas, without examining the assumptions being made or their validity in the current climate. Sometimes you need to be removed from your normal work-space in order to slow down, gain perspective, and really notice your beliefs, and how these can be either empowering or actually limiting your options.  

Creative approaches to career thinking are one way of doing this for me. Whether that’s journalling, going for a walk and using nature to stimulate my thinking, or getting out the scissors and glue to do some crafting.  

This June, as part of Making an Impact 2024, I’ll be running a workshop inviting researchers to use collage as a way to access how they really feel about careers. The things that make them come alive, the values that need to be present in a future job, to really enable them to feel positive about it.

The process can be restorative and empowering. Where academic careers can feel pressured, competitive and sometimes a bit toxic, the chance to slow the pace and do something with your hands, in the safety of a peer group who want you to succeed, can help you reconnect with your purpose and confidence.

My own process of making a collage on ‘what I want from running my own business’ still hangs on my wall as a reminder of how I want to maintain a strong connection to mountains, as well as feelings of purpose (the spotlight) and that I need to actively build a community (as I’m not really a solo worker).

A collection of images from magazines depicting Elizabeth’s career thinking.

I never saw myself as creative (another belief that I’ve carried around since 2nd year Art class) and these workshops aren’t about producing a work of art. They’re not just for people who think of themselves as creative. By externalising some of the things you’re feeling on the inside, you create a reminder of the direction you want to go in, which can help with motivation in your next job-hunting steps.  

Come join us! 

'Unlock your career potential through creative collage coaching' is taking place on 10th June 2024, 14:30-16:00 BST in person at the University of Liverpool. Find out more and reserve your place here:


About the author

Dr Elizabeth Adams is a coach with over 15 years’ experience working in researcher career development. Her passion lies in helping build academic cultures where individuals and creativity thrive. 

Further Reading

The creative collage coaching technique was developed by Andrea Watts. Find out more from her website and book at UnglueYou: https://unglueyou.co.uk/