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Dr. Linda Sheppard – University lecturer

Dr. Linda Sheppard moderating a panel

Company: University of East Anglia/Hallowed Histories Project

Title: Doctor of film studies

Industry: Higher Education

Function: Lecturer/Founder

Education:

BA-Modern English Literature, New York University

MA-Cinema Studies, New York University

PhD-Film Studies, University of East Anglia

What is your daily schedule like?

I’m up at 6:30 to make breakfast and get my daughter ready for school. Then, I  come home and from about 9:00 to 3:00 I grade papers, write and edit essays for publication, and watch films for my work while doing household stuff. Then, I pick up my daughter, get dinner ready, and spend time with my family. Of course, my husband and daughter help with watching films and the cleaning and cooking, too. We make a great team, I’m really lucky in that regard.  

What is your favorite part of your job?

I really value being able to inspire students to think and grow.

What were the steps you took to get your job?

Study, study, and study. And when I was done, I studied some more. I am a lecturer at the university where I did my PhD research, so I was able to show my superiors that I am dedicated and a hard worker.

What is your best piece of advice for girls interested in this field?

Just keep at it.  

What inspired you to pursue this career?

Family, friends, and mentors.

Career Snapshot

As a lecturer, Linda teaches film studies to undergraduate and graduate-level students at the University of East Anglia in the UK. In the United States, her position would be understood as a professor or assistant professor of film studies, but in the UK most university teachers are known as lecturers. In addition to teaching, she is the founder of a local event series called “The Hallowed History Project,” which is a podcast, film series, radio play, and writer’s event focusing on the myths, lore, and legends of the area.

Lots of people think that teaching is an easy profession because you get summers off, but it comes with a lot of challenges. A big part of working in higher education is putting yourself out there for publication and having your work peer-reviewed. According to Linda, this can be soul-crushing because the reviewers can sometimes be harsh, which causes you to question if your ideas are valid and even if writing about film analysis is a worthy profession. But it is a worthy profession. As a film studies lecturer, she considers it her job to teach people to think critically about the world around them.

The Career Journey

When she was an undergraduate student, Linda discovered that you could study film on an academic level and decided to pursue that as a career. She started the masters-level film studies course at NYU and began working at The Brooklyn Museum as an assistant film curator. She thought everything was on track; however, when she was finishing her masters degree, she applied to the NYU doctoral program and was rejected. Shortly after that, her job was defunded. A career in academic film studies or film curation were her two top choices, and both felt as though they had fallen through her fingers.

It took about three years to get over this colossal disappointment, and she spent that time working in retail and had her first child. At this point, she got a job as an archivist for The Andy Warhol Foundation cataloguing their press materials and later a job as a development assistant for the feminist film distributor, Women Make Movies. But she still felt drawn to get back to teaching. She applied for a film studies teaching position at a local community college and continues to teach online distance learning courses with the school. In 2013, she decided to finally pursue her doctorate, and that brought her to the University of East Anglia where she met her husband who is the co-founder of “The Hallowed History Project.”  

Advice

Linda’s advice to girls looking at any profession is to be open to new experiences and not limit yourself. She said, “don’t beat yourself up if you do not get what you want right away,” because life will never go the way you anticipate and no matter how old you get there is time to live your best life. “I have my PhD and am finally teaching at a university, but it took a circuitous path to get here. Sometimes it surprises me that I persevered and achieved my dream. I guess the moral of the story is do NOT put all your eggs in one basket. Unless you like broken, messy baskets.”

She also said that you don’t have to have everything figured out when you get to college or even when you’re much older–no one else does. “I am just a 16-year-old trapped in the mask of a responsible person. I still call my mom when I have a problem and don’t know what to do.”

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