Thread: some high level tips & general advice for phd students (based on my experience) #phdchat
1. Understand the incentive & motivation behind your choice to make this enormous commitment. Be fully transparent & honest w/ yourself. This is the big picture — the macro perspective. It will help you navigate the process w/ impeccable clarity, efficiency, & resilience.
2. Build a reliable network of kind and compassionate mentors characterised by a diversity of career backgrounds, levels of seniority/expertise, life experiences. Consult them often, build trust, and give them access to your dreams and fears. Nourish these relationships.
3. Invest time & energy into acquiring general, widely transferable, coveted skills (writing, coding, stats, public speaking). Make it an objective to be as good as you can w/ words (written/verbal communication) & numbers (stats, data sci). Learn at least 1 programming language.
4. Be smart about how you use and manage your time. Develop a set of techniques/rituals that help you focus and optimise performance. Don’t work all the time — it’s about tasks completed and goals achieved, not hours spent. Maximise productivity windows.
5. Don’t compete/compare. A PhD is not zero sum. Celebrate successes of colleagues. It’s a positive sum game if opportunities to publish & innovate are distributed equally across members of a research group. Inequality breeds resentment, unhealthy competition, unethical conduct.
6. Bullying is endemic to academia. Adopt a zero tolerance policy. Play your role & help eradicate it. Don’t put up w/ manipulators, sociopaths, egomaniacs. Call them out, no matter their place in the hierarchy. The more people do this the less it will seem easier said than done.
7. Stay away from chronic complainers & pessimists. A PhD is tough enough as is; maintaining a positive attitude is essential for a healthy, productive process. Release frustrations but don’t dwell. Realise &appreciate how privileged you are to be in the position of PhD candidate
8. Get comfortable & good at ending things: thesis chapters, manuscripts, projects, experiments. It will never be perfect. You won’t complete the story or answer all of your research questions. Be confident & satisfied. Finish on time. Perfectionism is your enemy.
9. Remember: you’re there to learn. Selection criteria are there to ensure you’ll be a fast, efficient & productive learner (vary by program/institution). You’re not yet an expert, you’re learning to become one —remember this when dealing with failures & unrealistic expectations.
10. You are not your results. It’s important to disentangle your self-esteem and self confidence from the volatility of a PhD. You are a scholar, a student, a researcher. Enjoy and embrace the process without letting the highs and lows define you.
11. Do things on the side from which you derive happiness, fulfilment, energy on spiritual, intellectual and physical levels. Teach, travel, blog, exercise, dabble in areas of study outside of your own, spend time with people you enjoy spending time with.
12. Take breaks. Take them regularly. Recharge and avoid burnout. Don’t put life on pause. Don’t miss weddings, birthdays, funerals, reunions, etc. You can always make it up — it’s simply not worth it.
13. Independent research is stressful, exhausting and difficult... it can also be lonely. Depend on others for moral, personal and intellectual support. Surround yourself with good voices. Build a solid support system and use it. Support others.
14. Explore career options. Go to recruitment events. Take time to study and understand where the world is going, both in and beyond your field. Identify the best opportunities for you based on how well they align with your personal vision, values & purpose. /end

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