Hope you are all well and looking beautiful 🙂
In my second to last post titled ‘A list of things they forget to tell you….PhD’, I discussed briefly the importance of mentorship for phd students, especially first years. I was invited to a programme organised by the ‘African Diaspora Academic Network ‘ , an organisation which is specifically aimed at African Researchers in UK universities. The aim is to build a network amongst this ethnic group or if you like platform for these academics to meet with each other, organise workshops to present their papers and so forth.
I am trying to move away from being fashionably late, but I am not quite there yet. Call it a work in progress..! I didn’t book my ticket on time and being me, I wanted to do last minute.com and book a coach to leave an hour after I decided to stop procrastinating. VERY lucky for me, my friend that I would have stayed with ended up being in London and was going back to Nottingham the following morning. I swear, God works miracles even I don’t believe at times. So that’s how I ended up on a road trip to Nottingham at 6.30 this morning. Oh my days what a drive yo! It felt like the road was never ending..it was just long and long and LONG! But I haven’t had that much fun in ages. Thanks Anike!!
The programme was supposed to start at 8.30 and I got there around 9.30. Not cool but what can we do? I hate to say this but it the Nigerian in me…but we are working hard to adjust this. Everyone else who was coming from London mysteriously didn’t come so I assume it was probably the unwillingness to catch the 6.05 train or some other legitimate reason. Can’t and won’t blame them lol.
Before I go further, Nottingham is Lovely and so so green. Like seriously, all I saw was GREEN!! RE: Pictures below.
Anyway, so I came in right in the middle of presentations (I’m really sorry to whoever I interrupted!) And oh boy. I haven’t presented any papers myself just yet and I am a bit anxious, I won’t lie. I will bite the bullet and do it tho. The way my mind is wired, I may be scared initially but I will eventually convince myself that those who have presented didn’t die as a result if it and thus I have no excuse to fear.
At the end of the entire presentations collectively, I can only summarise like this: Professors will CRITICALLLLLLY CRITICISE AND EVALUATE YOUR WORK!!! Don’t be scared though. This is a GOOD thing. You need this kind of critique for your work..you need someone to poke holes in it so you yourself can identify where you are going wrong, if you are at all. If you don’t feel you are, it is still an opportunity to take the comments back to the drawing board and see what sense you can make of it. That’s what makes the better research project. What you DON’T need is someone to give you cookies & jam and tell you that you’re work is perfect. Look guys, this is a learning process and you never stop learning. There will always be something to say about your work – good or bad so take it on board. These student workshops are good for the above reasons and it also helps you to build your confidence for much larger audiences. Today’s workshop we were about 30 students in the morning and about 50 for the mentorship scheme in the afternoon. Some of the questions that the presenters were asked today will go on to help them shape their work…it will go on to help them prepare for future presentations and have an idea of what to expect as a result of some of the tough questions they were asked today.
All the presenters were at different stages of their research – some have presented before, others this being their first time. A massive well done to them all…its not that easy listening to people fire you with a million questions at your work and it’s even worse if you haven’t thought about your research in that direction and in turn have absolutely no idea about the response to give.
As I mentioned, the aim of this programme was to bring people together from African origins and devise a way of mentoring them. I can say I was REALLY delighted to see so many African people who have distinguished themselves in their field or are in the processes of doing so. Honestly it was really nice. If you are a researcher ans interested in joining, allow me to direct you to their website. Feel free to mention me, I may earn brownie points (lol I’m only joking o..) 🙂
The Journey back home
London really is beautiful at night. But I say this as I’m on the coach back from Nottingham. First stop is London Victoria and then a change to another coach going to Stratford. Olalala. Now I could have easily took the train but I hadn’t pre booked and I wasn’t about to give East Midlands or whatever they are called £81 for a single home AND I actually enjoyed the car journey back so I figured what the heck. I have to say thanks to my oga at the top though because without him I may have been spent the night there lol. Sooo, this really has turned out to be a long day shift and a half. A journey that started at 5.30 ( getting up, slapping on the M.A.C and all) till 00:03 as I’m walking through my door. As with every event, we were provided with a light lunch and I took the liberty of buying subway again on my way back… (diet pending lol), But I got very thirsty when I arrived at Victoria and the shop there tried to sell me a small bottle of lucosade for £1.89. I have never felt so violated before. As in ehn… £1.89?! No chill whatsoever. Obviously, Fola went to the nearest Saninsbury’s local near the station where I gladly purchased a LARGE bottle of this very same lucosade for £1.00. Ah ah. I know you guys are trying to pay your rent but please excercise some small chill na. £1.89 for what na?! Biko.
A brief summary of what I have taken away today:
1. This event has highlighted the need for a mentor. This person doesn’t even have to be in your research field, it can just be someone to offer you solid advice as to your PhD journey and things to consider.
2.Planning ahead. This is sooo important I cannot even being to stress it. It’s all well and good that you have you complete your PhD, but let’s be frank, so will how many other people in your department? The key question after you answer your research question is ‘What’s next?’ This network group event today really made me think beyond that more than before.
3. Learn to ask questions. There is no harm and no one will shoot you for asking. The worse they can do is to ignore you. If they do, suck it up and keep it moving love. Today, I found out that my trip could have been funded by my department. Tut tut. Whilst I am happy most times to fork out myself, please let’s maintain decorum. It is good for your university to exercise its duty and assist you with trips if it’s within their budget.
4. Mingle, Mingle and Mingle. I know I have said this in my previous posts but really, today has really buttressed that point for me. If you’re a shy person and you have decided that you want to go down the route of academia, try to break out of this shell of shyness. Break the ice by attending things like this or other networking events..This will ease you into it slowly. The academic world seems big but it’s actually kind of small in reality. Everyone seems to know everyone so don’t look at it like a big challenge.
5. Get a mentor!!
A few pictures from Nottingham for your pleasure.
Stay beautiful Xxx