Building a Supportive Network

In this post, Yaru Chen, a new UoB PGR in Corpus Linguistics, tells us about an event on “Building a Supportive Network” she attended in the College of Arts and Law on Wednesday 15 January 2020.

What was “Building a Supportive Network” about?

This event, organised by the Postgraduate Student Experience Officer (a recently graduated PhD from CAL, also a trustworthy person from whom I always seek advice) in the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, was designed to help us improve our networking skills and develop our supportive networks. These supportive networks are not only beneficial in offering us emotional and academic support during our PhD study, but are also helpful for giving us career support once we have graduated.

Yaru's Supportive Network, showing her supervisors in the centre and others (including family, friends and UoB staff) offering different types of social support
Yaru’s Supportive Network

Continue reading “Building a Supportive Network”

In a post-submission “lull”?

The Research Student Administration team find they are at their busiest for thesis hand-ins at this time of year. This post explores some options for what to do next.

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Travel photo created by bedneyimages – http://www.freepik.com

Congratulations!  At long last you have submitted your completed thesis to Research Student Administration (RSA), perhaps after attending a Thesis submission event.  What happens now?  Patter describes this period of time as “hand-in limbo”.

First of all, take a break.  Away from your thesis, and away from your research.  This well-earned holiday is both a chance to reconnect with yourself as more than just the author of your thesis, and to reconnect with family and friends that you may have been neglecting recently.   Importantly, this also gives you a new perspective on your thesis  for when you return to it to prepare for the next milestone in your journey, namely your viva. 

After your break, here are some practical tips on how you can fill the post-submission lull productively.  Continue reading “In a post-submission “lull”?”

Don’t ‘plan,’ just ‘do’: how to let your career find you during your PhD

This post, written by our very own PGR Careers Advisor Holly Prescott, was previously published on the FindAPhD blog.  It follows on nicely from Shana’s posts before Christmas (part 1 and part 2) on her “extra-curricular” activities.

In the autumn of my second PhD year, after 3 glasses of 99p wine (stipend-allowing), I reluctantly agreed to help a friend out running campus tours at the University’s Postgraduate open day. I knew I’d have to walk around on the day with a lime-green, plastic ‘here to help’ sign, like a weird student-recruiting Lollipop Lady. But… my hob was broken and there was a free dinner in it for me. So I said yes.

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A University of Birmingham Open Day

The truth? Green lollipop aside, I actually sort of enjoyed it. I enjoyed the simplicity of being helpful. So for the next year, I carried on helping with campus tours and advising at open days and other events. It gave me a break from my niche research. It gave me perspective. It even gave me a few extra quid to get my hob fixed. Continue reading “Don’t ‘plan,’ just ‘do’: how to let your career find you during your PhD”

The thesis is not enough… (part 2)

In the second and final part of her post, Shana Gander-Zaucker, a current PGR in Psychology, shares her experience of being involved in wider non-research-related aspects of University life.

Representing the University as a Postgraduate Ambassador

One role I have had is that of Postgraduate Ambassador. You might think that as a Postgraduate Ambassador during open days you mostly stand outside holding an umbrella when it is windy and rainy waiting to provide directions to potential students. Although this might be part of the role it is also a great opportunity to meet new people. As a Postgraduate Ambassador you get the chance to meet and advise prospective students from a variety of disciplines on open days and other University events, which can be very rewarding. Continue reading “The thesis is not enough… (part 2)”

The thesis is not enough… (part 1)

The pressure of submitting a thesis might be overwhelming and some PGRs might feel guilty about spending time on social or other activities. In this two-part post, Shana Gander-Zaucker, a current PGR in Psychology, explores these matters in greater detail and shares her experience of being involved in other aspects of University life.

When starting my PhD at the University of Birmingham I remember going to a Careers Network event during which one of the attendees stated: “try to gain as much experience as you can in different fields at the University while doing your PhD as it will help you obtain a job afterwards”.

Shana Gander-Zaucker RPC 2016
Shana presenting her poster at the RPC 2016

My first reaction to this was a feeling of slight anxiousness as I felt a little overwhelmed by just beginning a PhD and I didn’t want to add more to my so-called ‘to-do list’. However, since then I have obtained some work experience in different capacities and have been involved in a variety of social activities. They have greatly helped me in my development as a researcher. In this post I will talk about how focusing on more than only your thesis could help you not only while you are doing your PhD, but also afterwards. So what types of roles have I been involved in? Well, they have been varied. However, while reading this you should recognize that this is not a comprehensive list and that each PhD journey will be different with its own valuable and unique opportunities.   Continue reading “The thesis is not enough… (part 1)”

Welcome to the University of Birmingham!

Recently, Melina Delmas, PGR in Modern Languages, was giving advice to a friend of hers who is starting her PhD this September. Melina shares her helpful tips with all of us as a welcome to our new PGRs.

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! Continue reading “Welcome to the University of Birmingham!”

Rewards from Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

In this post, Walaipun Puengpipattrakul, a PGR in CAL, shares some of her academic and personal development experiences during her PhD study, both part-time/distant learning and full-time on-campus.

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Faculty of Arts Buildings, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok.  Photo credit: Peerawat.b

Change is inevitable in life and often perceived unfavourably, since it frequently takes our lives out of our comfort zones.  I used to perceive change as previously mentioned. However, I started to alter my perception of change to be rewarding, particularly when it takes me out of my comfort zone, after a decision to pursue my PhD study here, at the University of Birmingham.  I have had a good opportunity of being back to the University campus again after my first Master’s degree from here, but this time, as both an alumnus and a PhD candidate.

I must admit that studying a PhD together with working as a full-time lecturer is a decision which took me out of my comfort zone indeed. Continue reading “Rewards from Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone”