Haloooooooo! Omg It has been ages since my last post…I apologise. Been having too much fun!! Theres so much I have discovered in the last few months..these are just a few -:)
So I am now 7 months into to my PhD.. oh my days, what a journey so far!!!
I have discovered however there are a list of things they really do not tell you before you start. Like really try and utilise your first year..especially if you are trying to complete in three years..( and a bit!)
One thing I have tried to do since starting (aside from googling PhD advice for first years lol) is to try and identify with someone who has a similar academic interest to me. Someone I can identify with when I feel backed into a wall or I’m having a rough week of research. You need to identify with someone who will offer you support when you feel like quitting…I have heard its normal to feel like the latter btw.
Earlier this year, I got talking to a lady who has just completed her PhD in London. She doesn’t know this but I really really admire female academics. I think it’s because they motivate and remind me that this CAN be done. It’s not really often you hear women doing doctorates and even now, every time I tell people what I’m doing, the response is usually along the lines of “You’re still a student?”/ “Why you doing a PhD for?”/… And wait for it, “You’re a woman, you should just go and marry”. It’s so disappointing that people are so ignorant!!!!
Anyway, I’m glad that I got emailing this lady. I reached out to her a few weeks ago because I had identified her as a potential mentor; best decision! She gave me a solid piece of advice..”find your voice”. I didn’t really understand what she meant at first..but this PhD is a journey of many things. It’s :Academic improvement; Self Discovery; Cultivating Your Independence; Standing Firmly On Your Own Two Feet and Prioritising Properly. I really do advise you to have a mentor that you can lean on for support..trust me, you will need it.
2. Supervisory Relationship
The relationship between you and your supervisor is very important. I mean you will be with this person for the next three years or so. S/he is like your mini God. I’ve been really lucky with mine because he taught me during my masters so I was familiar with him when I started. Also, he is very supportive and encouraging with the way I want my thesis to go…a friend of mine also doing a PhD..his supervisor..an absolute nightmare. Apparently told him to drastically change his topic and has a I-didn’t-have-support-with-mine-so-neither-will-you attitude. Worst!!!
The importance of a good working relationship between you and your supervisor cannot be emphasised enough. The last thing you want is to spend the next three years attending meetings with a supervisor that you cannot stand and offers no support at all. Obviously you don’t want s/he to hold your hand the entire journey; one of the characteristics of a PhD is that it gives you the independence to to write on something that you enjoy..and by yourself. But support is equally important.
3. Financial Stuff
You may have been successful enough to get a studentship from your University..if that’s the case, it really does reduce your financial worries a bit. It is however very easy to then think you have some extra cash and spend it all at once…DON’T!!!!!!!
During my undergraduate days, I had a student account and because my Uni was in Regent Street, a lot of my ‘study periods’ were spent at Topshop and Selfridges. Those were the days! Anyway, I used that same account through to masters and back now at doctorate level. That’s how many years of Interest Free?? Thank you Jesus -:)
4. Online Presence?
I had so many questions before and during my PhD and I obviously I still have more. I have been hearing from so many people the importance of having an online presence…um what?
There was a blog I read a few days ago, which discussed the importance of being, and I quote, ‘Googleable’. It makes sense though because even I know (from personal experience) that potential employers will google you. Whether it’s to see how much of an expert you are in your chosen field or out of pure curiosity, they WILL google you. I think it’s also to make sure that apart from work, you actually have some sort of social standing/life. I mean really, who wants to employ someone who is married to work 24/7? If you don’t have facebook or twitter..biko, go and join!!
Jokes apart, being able to search for you is important. So I suggest things like LinkedIn, Academia.edu and ResearchGate. Almost everyone has a Facebook account..don’t get left behind.
5. Networking and Conference Attendance
Networking is major. It’s ok if your not really the outgoing type..that’s why technology has become amazeballs. It is ok to use email as a medium to reach out to people. Saves the awkwardness in public. In your first and second year, try and network with other researchers..either at your Uni by going to events to going to conferences. At Brunel, we recently had like a Researchers evening where people from different schools met with other researchers from different departments. I met with a few people through this and I have no complaints yet..mingle, mingle and mingle!
If you are considering a career in academia, publications DURING your PhD is imperative. Almost all post -doc researchers have at least two or three publications under their belt. A PhD thesis is by no means enough. To put it bluntly, you need to be bringing something else to the table. You need to have opinions on other matters..whether born out of your project or not. Something different. Don’t forget that the year your graduate so does how many other PhD Students. So I guess in a way, your publications and other work will define you and make you stand out from the next person. So…..get on with it!!!
7. Have Fun.
I have said in my earlier posts I’m really not your conventional student. First and foremost, I am a minister of enjoyment. Obviously your doctoral studies will undoubtedly take over a large part of your life. But you should already anticipate what you are signing up for to be honest….I know I did. It’s not going to be a walk in the park but you need to be able to strike a balance between having fun and your work life. A friend of mine does not do any doctoral studies on the weekend and I adopted that approach from him, especially during law school. Although that was probably because clubbing was always better on Friday nights in Abuja. Really, who wants to be reading Introduction to Corporate Law when they are playing Afro-Jamz in Play & Cubanna. ( They are clubs by the way..not fruits!)
Yh seriously, strike that balance between work and your social life. For me, the weekends are strictly ‘ Finding Fola’. That translates into ‘chilling out’. I have cut all my hair off (Repping #TeamShortHair currently…well actually, #TeamAlmostBald. RE: picture below ) so no hairdresser bants. So I spend weekends shopping or sleeping. Either way, no researching on the weekends!