If you started your PhD a while back and for some reason, you would underperform, drop out from the programme, didn’t progress as much as your coworkers or found a traditional or non-traditional job outside academia, you would have been labelled as FAILURE! Failing to prove to be successful, failing for not fitting into the culture and ultimately failing to grow tough skin. Basically, you would put yourself into 5y of extra schooling, with lower than minimum wage salary, with no security for your family and future (by no means a comprehensive guide) and then this classifies you as a failure!
This is another long overdue blog article inspired by my followers who keep asking if it’s worth or wise to start a PhD programme. First of all, I want to say that I don’t have the answer for everyone. I don’t know your particular circumstances, your financial or personal situations, so don’t take my advice as gold. I can only speak based on my own experience and those of people I know.
All right folks, long overdue post on how I am getting along with preparing my thesis defence. I know that this process isn’t the same for everyone and different universities adopt different criteria and requirement to earn a PhD degree. In my university and pretty much in many UK institutions, you have an oral exam with a professor from your university and another one from elsewhere. They question you about your work and assess your general knowledge on your field of research and your subject of study overall.
I think I lost count of all the messages I got from fellow students asking for help because they don’t know how to deal or move away from toxic supervisors. I initially wanted to share my own experience only. But I think this wouldn’t have been powerful enough to provide resources, support and motivation. So I decided to ask people to share their own experience publicly or anonymously so that everyone can identify themselves in one of the following cases and act accordingly. I also want to say that I feel incredibly sorry if you are reading this article and you currently going through such a poor mentoring situation yourself. I really hope this can be helpful!
I submitted my thesis a month and a half ago, well before my deadline. I was done with my PhD, I couldn’t manage the stress and struggle anymore. I didn’t even spell-check my manuscript. I honestly couldn’t go through it anymore. I just wanted to finish and put it to an end. Feeling numb after submitting your thesis is very common among students, you are supposed to feel proud and happy about this huge achievement, but, in fact, you feel nothing of nothing. You are just glad that it’s all done!
On Tuesday the 27th of August, I submitted my PhD thesis. I thought that this day would never arrive. I had so many dark moments, ups downs, had to change lab, supervisor, research topic, how could one see the light at the end of the tunnel? But I did it. And, although I still feel overwhelmed by the whole process, it’s a good way of being tired. It comes from a sense of accomplishment. Everything I worked for over the last 4 years finally came together.
I just want to start off with apologising for the long hiatus from blogging. The last 2 months have been hectic. I finished off my labwork, I am almost done with my thesis, I presented my research at the European Symposium on Organic Chemistry and I am applying for jobs. I also had a two-week vacation to visit my family in Italy because I needed a break from everything so badly.
July has been a crazy month, like every month since the beginning of this year. I have come to realise that the way I approach my life, especially my work life is a bit unhealthy because I have of my problem with anxiety. Since a very young age, my anxiety, my feeling of inadequacy and poor self-esteem made me work like crazy. It is very sad to say and I am not happy about the fact that the reason for my constant achievements is due to my anxiety. This is not what I want from my life anymore and I am trying to adopt more healthy and sustainable routines to achieve as much without constantly burning out, lacking sleep and relying on painkillers. And I don’t want to even get started about how bad this PhD affected my mental health.
I am off to a conference in Vienna from this Saturday and for the whole following week. It will be a big event with big-name professors from all over the world and about 400 posters on display. I initially applied to do an oral presentation, but I didn’t make it. So, I was given the chance to present a poster. Not too bad. Going to such huge events where you will meet all the people whose names you have been reading on papers for 4+ years can be daunting. And if you are an introvert, it might feel like a nightmare.
Continue reading “How to shine at business events as an introvert.”
June is coming to an end and this is the time of the month when I usually stop for a bit and reflect on my monthly progress. In January, I started rewriting for my website seriously and one of the aims of this virtual diary was to evaluate my personal and career development. I have been doing this for 6 months now and I have to say that I am very happy with the progress.
Continue reading “Reflections on the last month I spent in the lab. #100daysofdissertation”