Lots of academics mention luck as being key to getting them where they are today.
They’ll say that the right job came up just at the right moment, or a friend or colleague just happened to mention a Fellowship that they’d seen advertised, and suddenly everything fell into place. However, I’m a firm believer that, to some extent, you make your own luck. By making sure that you’re in the right place when that job comes along (a place where you’ll get noticed for all of the right reasons) you can make sure that you’re in the strongest possible position to take advantages of the opportunities as they arise.
This idea that you play a part in creating the opportunities that come along also features in a recent Inside Higher Ed blog, where the blogger talks about the opportunities that have come up as a result of him ‘putting himself out there’ (he’s American, remember). It’s an interesting read and a reminder that even in academia, there’s a real element of marketing yourself involved in getting an academic job. Read the full post at: http://www.insidehighered.com/advice/tyro/essay_on_the_role_of_serendipity_in_academic_careers