When you’re at the very beginning of a research programme, it can feel like there’s an overwhelming amount of stuff that you are encouraged to engage with (including induction and Welcome) on top of getting started on your research.
My advice? Prioritise the activities that will help you build relationships with people. Yes, sometimes even over your research activity. It’s the people around you who can make all the difference to your PGR experience.
The PhD process has been amazing in so many ways. What nobody can prepare you for however, is how much it challenges your mental health.
Eight months in, I attended a session for PhD students at a conference, delivered by the amazing Beth Patmore, about mental health during your doctorate. I could relate to so much of what she was saying, but I never really associated it with poor mental health. Procrastination, strange sleeping patterns, putting on weight, overeating, feeling guilty for having a day off… in my group we all agreed that we could relate. As Beth read out some of the signs, ripples of agreement travelled through the room, some uncomfortable laughter, nodding, awkward silences. Even at that stage, the signs were there but I brushed it off… “I’ll be fine”.
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.