Some jobs in business require or give the opportunity to travel a lot, both domestically and internationally. An internal meeting with colleagues at the headquarters, a course on the newest developments in your profession, a sales appointment with potential customers and a consultation or presentation to current clients are just a few examples involving travelling beyond the daily commuting between home and work. How boring travelling in a traffic jam or a full train during rush hour can be, how exciting a business trip to an interesting place actually is. What about jobs in academia? Well, professors are not only travelling between lecture rooms and their office.
Text by: Bas Dietzenbacher
Although not very frequently, teaching can occasionally bring professors to different places. Next to their regular classes at their main university, they may be hired to teach a course at another university. These professors for instance have a very successful class, or the other university has a (temporary) lack of certain expertise to teach a specific course. Some professors even have multiple jobs such that they are affiliated with more than one university. However, teaching at a different place boils in most cases down to a single guest lecture or a few lectures at a summer school. Summer schools, or spring/autumn/winter schools, are primarily for knowledge remediation or advancement of the participants, which can be students or professional workers of any level.
In general, the travel activities of professors are actually not related to teaching, but to research. I am again not talking about commuting, but about giving seminars, attending conferences and symposia or paying research visits (abroad). A seminar is a form of academic instruction. It usually is a presentation about recent research of the speaker to an advanced audience consisting of other academics, research staff, and postgraduate students. In a sense, giving a seminar can be considered as teaching to professionals. An academic conference or symposium is an event composed of several short seminars in which different researchers in a certain field present and discuss their work with fellow experts. It serves as a platform for exchange of ideas and information between various researchers and may last for multiple days. Whenever two or more researchers have a common interest in a specific topic or idea, they can bundle their abilities and start a joint research project. This can be very fruitful since two know more than one after all. During the several stages of the research, it may be convenient to visit each other for some time. These research visits are then hosted by a university to which one of the collaborators is affiliated.
Although I am not a professor, I consider myself fortunate to have had several opportunities to travel for work. In 2018, my job has not only allowed me to travel to Tilburg, Maastricht and St. Petersburg, but also to Bilbao, Paris, Bayreuth, Glasgow, Reus, Moscow and Rochester – the latter being actually the place where I am writing this piece of text. To me, these seminars, conferences, and research visits are very beneficial for getting feedback on my work and learning from the work of others. Besides, it enables me to meet other people in the field and build an international network, which can be helpful for my future career. Of course, when travelling to a foreign city, I usually exploit the opportunity to combine the formal activities with informal sightseeing, a little bit in the same spirit as the International Business Tour organized by Asset | Econometrics. This year I was lucky to join this trip for the fifth time. Travelling is inspiring and fun!