Wednesday, 4 February 2009


As I mentioned in my previous post, the university requires all new (and continuing) PhD students to take a range of training courses, aimed at our development as well-rounded researchers with many transferable skills.

The concept sounds lovely, but as you can imagine, they're all a bit naff once you get down to it. You spend about 3 hours listening to someone tell you things that you are already aware of and are made to do silly group exercises that you'd rather not have to. Whether or not these courses are enjoyable largely depends on the person directing them. A lot of them end up being a waste of time, except for the free coffee and biscuits.

I suppose though that they do bring up views that you hadn't considered before, and give you ideas for where to look for more information, and you get to meet and interact with other people with different backgrounds. It can be a stimulating experience.

Today's courses weren't that exciting. I don't feel I've learnt how to manage my time or how to plan my project effectively. But I guess I was given ways of looking at things differently. Like, for example, dividing up tasks according to their urgency and importance, so that you have enough time to deal with important tasks without getting swamped by less important urgent tasks (such as preparing for a lab-chat only a few hours before having to present it). Also, I have confirmed that in terms of what drives my work I am a perfectionist, and also a bit too emotional for my own good.

A couple of weeks ago I attended a course on "kick-starting your career". One of the interesting things that came out of that one was making a life plan. I'm too scared to actually make a plan for the future, but it is informative to look at what has led up to this PhD and where I am now. I produced the following timeline. It was a good exercise. The next step is to find the courage to project this into the future, but there are so many possibilities that could arise as well as limitations and constraints that I wouldn't know where to start. Perhaps I'll make a few different scenarios at some point.

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