At the beginning of the current semester I was asked to welcome our new PhD arrivals with a basic orientation to our department’s program. Since those PhDs have been briefed by our faculty and received lots of information about the program, so I thought it would be better to give them a few pointers on how I see the PhD journey. I sat down to write quick tips for PhD which some PhD students aren’t always aware of when they start off the program.
(photo adopted from the wonderful "I did a PhD and did NOT go mad")
So this is what my presentation included…
- Publications are your top priority for entering the job market, not your thesis (edited : management field, that is).
- Publications are tough.
- Publications take a LONG time.
- You’re likely to fail more than succeed.
- Start thinking about it early.
- Use your courses to build your submissions.
- Collaborate with professors, join their projects, discuss authorship. They know their stuff!
- Connections are important, not only inside the department/university.
- To have one, as early as possible.
- To be able to communicate and understand each other.
- It’s meant to help you build up skills, not overload you. Not all students and professors understand that.
- You can probably change till quals. If you do – do it tactfully.
(side note : our department has a mentoring system encouraging students to work with multiple mentors before settling down on an advisor after quals)
- There is usually funding for conferences and research, but it could be tricky. Talk to your mentor about it.
- There is usually a pool UG students available for surveys/experiments every year. If you’re micro OB – use it!
- Classes are what YOU make of them
- Prepare for class AND quals.
- Participate in group discussions.
- Knowing what professors in your department do is important, especially in your own area.
- Visiting professors are an asset and an opportunity. Make the most of it.
- School “gossip” does matter…
- Talk to other students.
- Talk to your mentor.
Not everyone graduates
- Not passing qualifying exams.
- Not showing progress in course/research.
- Quitting due to over-pressure.
- Deciding research life isn’t for them.
- Deciding this university isn’t for them.
Better make sure you’re none of those as early as possible.
Absolutely critical for PhD survival
PhD ain’t easy and takes a long time. So…
- KEEP A BALANCED LIFE
- Eat well.
- Sleep tight (7+ hours).
- Find a hobby.
- Do some sports.
- Leave campus often.
- Make friends.
- Share your life with your loved ones.
- Most important : HAVE A LIFE THAT’S NOT SCHOOL.
Scared? don’t be…
- It’s a rewarding journey.
- You learn a lot.
- You get to do top work with excellent people.
- It does get easier with time.
Got any other general tips worth sharing?
Good luck with your studies.