Hi. I have just been contacted by an old colleague with some exciting and prestigious opportunities. One is to present at a Conference and the other is a project that is related to my PhD area but it is outside of the University. I have arranged to meet and discuss both. Re-connecting with this colleague in these projects could be an opening to paid work (they work for a large Gov department) once the PhD is finished. I am at the end of my 2nd year so to have something lined up for next year would be perfect. Do I have to put these by my supervisor? Would it be seen as going behind their back if I just go ahead? To add to this my team haven't been the most supportive in terms of opportunities i.e. other students are being sent to conferences, are asked to contribute to papers etc whereas I am not so I feel I have to make my own way so to speak.
For the Conference presentation I don't think you need to frame it as asking permission, but you should certainly tell your supervisors that you have been invited to speak at a Conference and plan to attend. Unless of course you need them to fund your attendance, if that's the case then you'll need to ask for their support in attending.
In terms of the project, this is a bit of a grey area. I would suggest that you probably need your supervisor's agreement to be working on a different project. I'm a bit concerned about the project though, is it a paid research position? Or are you being used as free labour? If you can link it into your PhD work, so it becomes part of your PhD then it might be worth pursuing though your University may have problems with this sort of collaboration unless it is formalised. But, you really shouldn't be doing research for other Universities/Companies that is unpaid - it devalues you and your contribution. Especially given it may take time away from your primary research responsibilities i.e. your PhD.
That's good advice about the project. It is my area but I couldn't use the data from it. I suppose it's hard not to get carried away with thinking forwards but it's tempting what with knowing how god awful post PhD job prospects are! It sounds like it's just in development atm so here's hoping they need staff as my PhD finishes :D
It is a good conference so I will broach this with my supervisors as they haven't actually ear marked any conferences yet that might be suitable for me to present at.
Ah okay. So is this a project that has received funding already? Or is it something that they are putting together a grant application for? If it's the latter, you might benefit from having a couple of brief conversations about it to try and get involved and possibly put as a named RA on the proposal. But definitely don't do any serious work for it unless it's paid and with the agreement of your supervisors/university (which you would be unlikely to get before submission tbh).
Good luck for the conference. It's definitely a great way of getting exposure. And, when you are there, make sure you tell anyone who is interested (and even people that aren't) that you are submitting soon and looking for an RA post. I know people who have had invitations to apply for research posts as a result of conversations over a glass of wine at conferences.
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