Are you a new postgraduate researcher at the University of Birmingham? Do you feel a bit daunted at the thought of starting this new adventure? If so, fear not. Lucky for you the University of Birmingham has lots of resources to help you. Here are a few tips to start you off on the right foot!
- Get acquainted with Westmere.
Westmere House is a dedicated postgraduate hub. I would suggest that you go to some of the Welcome Week activities organised there. Insider Secrets for PGRs and PhD Chat, for instance, are great to ease the nerves of any new research student. It’s also a good opportunity to meet people and make friends! Free wellbeing activities such as yoga or arts & crafts are also offered on a regular basis. Make sure to check their event calendar.
- Take part in some workshops.
Once you will have started your research and filled in your Development Needs Analysis (DNA) according to the RDF, you might find yourself wanting to improve some of your skills. Library Services offers some helpful workshops on various topics ranging from productivity to working effectively with your supervisor. This will help you gain new skills and feel more confident in your abilities to complete your course. Check out the full range of opportunities across the university via the training skills and development page.
- Go to some Shut up & Work sessions.
Shut up and Work is the best! Seriously. Here is how it works: you set out some goals for the day and start working on them. For each hour worked, you get a 15-min break to socialise with the other PGRs present. Plus, need I say free biscuits?! It’s a great way to feel both productive and social. Here is the list of this year’s dates. Don’t forget to register!
- Find a community on social media.
By following the University Graduate School and Westmere’s accounts on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll be aware of what’s happening at the university for PGRs. Additionally, there are lots of accounts on Twitter dedicated to helping research students. Here are a few that I find particularly useful: @PhDForum is a platform where you can ask all your PhD-related questions, and get some support from fellow students. @AcademicsSay & @PHDcomics are great for some humorous content on the trials of academic life. Finally, @ithinkwellhugh, @WriteThatPhD & @researchwhisper are good resources for tips on methodology and organisation.
- Check out societies & clubs.
Giving your brain regular breaks is essential when doing research. The university’s clubs and societies offer lots of activities for free or very little money. For example, the PGMSA (Postgraduate & Mature Students Association) is dedicated to postgrad students, but there are many others. Explore the Guild’s groups page as there truly is something for everyone!
Most importantly, don’t worry too much as you will soon feel part of the UoB community!
Do you have other tips for new PGRs? What helped you the most when you started your own programme?