I'm not sure how to deal with this. I had a bad first year viva that I barely ended up passing and unlucky for me, most of my department came to watch. It's now been 2 months after this and I can sense change of attitude in people around me. I'm involved in couple of side projects that will lead to papers and I am being given crappier and crappier tasks to do. I'm now last person to be included in the "to:" line of the group emails regarding those projects and I was in the middle before. I was also supposed to do joint talk with another person at the department seminar about one of those projects and am now being that "I'm better of concetrating on my PhD project". I'm also working on the worst and slowest computer in the world and despite my constant complaints noone is offering to get me another computer.
I wish I could go back in time and prepare for the damn viva better. I really didn't take it all that seriously and barely preapred at all. I'm now forever destined to be seen as a crappy PhD student that is burden to all and wastes university resources. I really don't know if there is any way to get people to perceive me differently...
Is there any opportunity to give a dept talk and show yourself in a better light? My dept has regular(ish) meetings where grad students and staff give presentations. If there is such an opportunity I would grab it with both hands and really prepare well this time.
I think you raise a very important, often overlooked point- The issue of favouritism.
In my lab, I have started to run things like a meritocracy where those that achieve are given praise, conference money and first choice of new equipment. Ideally there would be enough for everyone, but there isnt. I figure this way is better than the old way of "Whoever sucks up wins".
I guess in this situation the best way to "get back on top" will be to show results. That may be an accepted publication in a high impact journal, it may be developing a new way to do something that makes it more efficient, or just being seen to go that extra mile (coordinating a conference, running a journal club). In short you "make" yourself more important.
You need to address this issue quickly, as there is a natural pecking order in any group within a pressured environment. People dont really talk about it and will probably deny it happens even. It is the same in all groups, and I guess no one wants to be that person last on the email list, the person that gets the worst supervision slots and whose suggestions are continually overlooked at meetings.
I think the longer you spend at the end of the list the harder it is to get off from it. Perhaps it could be helpful to see who previously took this spot, and see how they rose from it?
For example my supervisor has recently hired a new research assistent. She has done nothing yet and she has gotten a new computer as soon as she started (while I still have the old one). I'm trying to justify this as me being a part time student and her being a full time staff member so it's normal (and she has a very long term contract) but deep down I feel it's a favoritism.
Badhaircut, I just don't think I have the motivation to fight back. It's very hard getting back from the bottom so this is where I will stay. 1.5 years to go and hopefully I will be out of there and never see those people again. I just can't help but be very depressed about it.
Computer really is my immediate problem. It is so bad that I can't open more than 3 windows without it getting stuck and so slowed down that I am only able to work at one tenth of normal pace. I have mentioned this number of times in front of the supervisor and nothing. As a result I am going home earlier and earlier and supervsior is getting pi%&ed off making everything even worse.
I do not know what the right way is to distribute resources for doing your research or work in an environment that sounds as if there are extremely tight budgetary concerns, but at one level, you have to be provided the basics that you need to do the job. This includes a computer that runs at a decent speed, that can handle the software you need to do your research, etc. I would disagree that distributing office basics ( a computer being more of a necessity than even a phone) should be based on anything other than the performance of the computer. Certainly not the person.
So Lost in Oz had a rough start, and was struggling to get by. The problems are not helped by not providing sufficient equipment. This is just adding to the problem. If the department wants to see Lost in Oz suceed, then it is imperative that he/she be given at least the decent basics in terms of equipment. Lots of places have computer replacement policies based on the age of the computer...which is the ONLY way that it makes sense to distribute equipment.
Let's say the lightbulbs burn out in your office. Are those replaced when needed, or does the favourite person get a daily or weekly lightbulb change, whether needed or not?
@ Olivia: Fair point, and I would give everyone the best gear if I could. I try to operate a first dibs principle for achievers rather than deprive anyone (for the basics at least).
@LostinOz: I would be very concerned for your mental health if you stayed at the bottom of the ladder for over a year. Its going to play havoc for your self esteem, and may even lead you to start believing that you really are in some way worse than them (When you arent). Remember people tend to transmit their own pressure downwards, so you could end up carrying a lot of crap that belongs to your entire group.
I got this in my few months temping and I still feel intense rage at the assholes that lorded it over me back then.
Sorry to hear you're feeling deflated - I remember you posting about your fisrt year viva.
while I agree with some that you might want to display yourself positively (perhaps present at a conference or publish something), I don't think the onus is completely on you. You are a student, and ultimately training for research. While you have a responsibilty to do your project, the university also has an obligation to ensure that you can do your work properly. And if they are not providing you with the equipment or a supportive environment in which to do this, this needs addressing. The point of a first year panel is not just to see that your work is PhD-worthy - it is also to establish that the uni/dept is seeing you right. Promote your work in someway, but also talk to someone about this. Do you have a PhD student rep? Or whoever signed off your panel report?
This is one of those difficult situations. The computer problem might be solved by speaking to your IT department maybe, but it isn't unique, my supervisor has a computer that also has the same problem. It is odd that the department, that is supposedly full of intellectually able people should adopt such tactics, but you shouldn't let it get to you. If you want to do the work with the other person, just say so, and do it. Sometimes it is more difficult being part time because you aren't around so much so miss out on bits and pieces. The e-mail thing is odd, becuase at my place its just a list that is generated for departments, and I think is ultimately controlled by IT (may be wrong there, but they do seem to control a lot of things!. BH - have you read 'the rise of the meritocracy' -quite an interesting book which I am using as part of my section on labour power
Just few hours ago I have canceled a meeting with my primary supervisor next week as I can't stand to see her right now (I made up some excuse about post grad association meeting). I also felt comfortable as I had a meeting with my second supervisor who I prefer as a person. Then, just few minutes after that my second supervisor emails me that he can't make it to the meeting and wants to reschedule for 2 weeks (they are not in contact in any way so that was just a coincidence). Great, nothing is going right.
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