Do you think of a research/expert career? Would you like to learn more about what it means to research? Meet some of the CES Alumni who are now successfully conducting their doctoral studies and who are willing to share their thoughts about it.
Alex Pomiecko from USA, who is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. If you want to follow her steps, we encourage you to check out the specialization: Central and Eastern European Studies: Research Track at CES which focuses on research management and prepares students to act as experts in the future. See how possible it is!
Who is a researcher/expert? What is the role of researchers/experts today?
A researcher is someone who dedicates him or herself to a particular area of interest and utilizes the tools available to them to the best of their knowledge and capability. The role and uses of a researcher are varied; they can be as limited to a personal interest in a specific subject to a consulting position in a company.
How did you discover you would like to become a researcher?
My decision to pursue a research-based field was based on an early personal, academic interest in history. As I continued my university studies, I took courses related to the field and was able to refine my specific interests. Finally, I began to look at career and professional options related to my interests and narrowed it down to a research-based one. It seemed the best suited for my personality, goals, and work ethic.
What are your research areas of interests? Why did you choose those? How do you work on it?
My research focuses on Central and East European history; specifically, Belarusian and Polish history of partisans and guerrilla groups from 1915 to 1943. I knew for several years that I was interested in history in this particular region. As I continued my university studies, I took opportunities that would allow me to explore options pertaining to this type of study, and it is in this way that I was able to determine whether or not a research-related path was the right one for me. In my specific case, this came about through writing research papers, learning foreign languages, working in various archives, as well as talking to people who were pursuing a research-field in history. Lastly, I thought about a topic and research questions that were lacking in the historiographical field. This allowed me to choose an understudied subject that could hopefully be marketable for the future.
What keeps you motivated from day to day?
Ultimately, it is a strong passion and interest in the topic that motivates me. Furthermore, having a dedicated supervisor and group of peers makes the experience more rewarding and enjoyable.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a researcher/expert? What is the most challenging?
The most rewarding part is that I truly get to learn and work on a topic of my interest. Having the opportunity to be able to research and study something is rewarding in itself. In my case, being able to speak with people who are equally interested in similar topics makes it equally worthwhile, as I can share my ideas and many times, learn from others. That being said, there are, of course, many hurdles in the process that make the research challenging. These can be as minor as bureaucratic difficulties in accessing documents in the archives, to dealing with individuals who do not share your views and can be detrimental to your research development.
What kind of skills should a researcher/ expert develop?
Patience, dedication, motivation, and openness are equally important and vital to a researcher. These usually come automatically if someone is truly interested in what they want to study. There are, of course, minor skills that are more tailored to each research project; for example language skills, computer/technological skills, etc. Being able to work both with people and individually is another asset.
What is your advice for students who want to become a researcher/ expert?
I would recommend being flexible with your interests and research pursuits. Taking the time to think about a topic is vital, as in most cases it is something you will be working on for many years to come. Rushing into a project may prove to be weary and not enjoyable. This can be remedied by talking to people in these respective fields or university departments, who are working on issues you are interested in. Furthermore, while the research process itself is narrow and quite subject-specific, will the outcome of your research provide you with opportunities in the future?
Thank you Aleks!