Q&A: What’s your average work day like?

There are never really average work days because there is a good number of tasks I need to cover as part of my job. That said, I do have a job that is 95% not field-based.

I have always been a very early morning person (one of the reasons I love Finnish summers is that it gets light very early and I can cycle to work at 5-6am wearing sunglasses), so I tend to show up to work early but also leave work early – my brain needs a long break after 3-4pm. Although I can connect into my work system remotely and we can always connect into meetings remotely, I tend to prefer going into the office as I find it helps me keep a better work-life balance.

At work I could be doing quite a few things – catching up on emails (I try to always have fewer than 10 in my inbox), reading literature to build up parts of articles, working on my models, meetings, administrative tasks, grant writing to get more funding. Mainly though I try to keep it to (slowly, I am so slow at this) building up publications, working on my models and exchanging ideas with colleagues. My field work requires me to go meet with companies and discuss with them to see how I can make my models better to help them achieve sustainability and find ways to bring in added value to their products.

Of course, as a scientist, you are also expected to participate in conferences and symposiums, contribute to peer reviewing and even eventually sitting on editorial boards or organising committees. One of my previous jobs also included teaching and student supervision, which I enjoyed greatly, and I am hoping to add some teaching/supervisory tasks to my current role in the upcoming months. On the side I also work with outreach programs to encourage girls and women to join STEM fields and to bring scientists into classrooms to show students of all ages that working in a scientific field can be fun and rewarding.

I tend to try to and keep most work-related things to what I call my “working hours” (roughly 7am-4pm) but it’s not always possible. There are times when I do need to finish an abstract or article during my holidays or the weekend, there are meetings that are scheduled during the day in other parts of the world (therefore evening/night for me) and so I will have to participate from home, there are work trips that do not follow a strict schedule. Those things happen but since changing jobs I have tried my best to finish things before deadlines (the first deadlines, never hoping for extensions – 27yo me would be so impressed) and to tie all loose ends before the weekend hits.

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