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Unemployed, no prospects :(

"did you ever get a job that utilised your qualifications years later?"

I did. After 6 years of hard work and doing things I didn't want to do and countless disappointments.

Everyone has things they want and obstacles in the way of those things. But you have to try and find a way to pick yourself back up and get back out there in spite of the difficulties. One of those difficulties is overcoming the negativity you feel towards your current situation. It's not ideal granted but it's not permanent and it's not your fault.

Unemployed, no prospects :(

======= Date Modified 19 May 2011 15:59:48 =======
I was in this situation a few months ago before I started my PhD and I felt very demoralised about being turned down for work that I could do with my eyes closed and hands tied behind my back.

I was also desperate and needed to get a job ANY job and found that I was automatically being screened out for things like shop assistants, data entry clerk etc etc because of my cv. I was a qualified professional who changed careers and my CV was putting people off because I had listed my qualifications and previous jobs. I cottoned on to this when the recruitment agency I signed up for told me they had nothing for me because I was over-qualified. So I redid my cv. I took off all my degrees, listed my A Levels, listed the jobs I had during my first degree and got a data entry job within the week with my new improved totally out of date CV. I knew that I didn't have to do it forever and I didn't feel like that I had to 'hide' my qualifications - I did what I had to do to get my foot in the door. When I got in there I found out that the other 3 new starters who were supposedly A Levellers only had undergrads and Masters degrees too but hadn't declared it.

I had to beg the recruitment agency - a girl that was 7 years my junior, who really HAD just come out with A Levels and nothing else - for a job typing in addresses into a database (yep all day long just doing that). But at the time I didn't care about that because I just wanted the money no matter what. I had to balance up pride with necessity. It wasn't the best of times but I had to do it keeping in mind that I needed the money now and that it wouldn't be forever. I just kept my mind on that when things got tough.

It is NOT that you are worthless and I am sorry to see you even write that, it is simply the case that jobs are tighter than a duck's backside at the moment and there's a LOT of competition. I know of people with PhDs applying for jobs as technicians because some money is better than no money. It's easier once you are working and earning to plan your next step re where to apply to and what to aim for.

Don't give up, these are difficult times but they won't last forever. Sometimes you have to rough it for a while before the good stuff comes along. I hope things turn around quickly for you.

PS one of my friends who had been working as an administrator despite having an MBA and a PhD, revamped his CV to make it attractive to both employers and academics and is now the Head of Division of a very famous institution. He was also restricted on relocating because of his family situation and relied on his wife (an academic herself) to support him and their two young children whilst he was in the admin position. So you know, big things can happen even if you can't foresee them right now. He was depressed about the whole situation for quite some time but was then determined to fight back and get the kind of type he felt he deserved (and really did deserve).

If you could give a first year PhD student one piece of advice for PhD what would it be?

Be REALLY organised right from the beginning. It's easy to get involved with everything that's going on: inductions, meetings, seminars, reading etc and forget to organise your materials.

I was really good at the start but then things got hectic and I was doing so many things all at the same time that my systems went out of the window and now, 8 months in, I am having to spend a LOT of precious time going back, locating notes, finding references, remembering which of the 4 notebooks I keep has the info that I need. It's a total nightmare.

Make time to do it as you go along. There's always a time to do it - before starting work each morning, as you finish each piece of writing/reading/task, every Friday before you hit the pub or go home. There's always a smidgen of time and I have found that no matter how tired you are it's worth just making sure that you start and end every week organised.

Mussel distribution patterns theories

Oh no that's bad :( I don't know aboit your area but the google search brought up some papers which may be helpful (?)

Is there anyone else you can ask in your dept? Or someone from another uni? I know that the zoology dept at NUI Galway uni does a lot of research on mussels and things. You could search sone of the staff profiles there and maybe send them an email aboit what you're looking for?

I'm sorry you have a bad supervisor that must be very difficult for you. Is there anyone else you can talk to like the head of postgrad studies or another tutor?

I hope you find the info that you're looking for.

Uni East Anglia or Uni Bath

======= Date Modified 14 May 2011 18:32:50 =======
I find it annoying and hard work when people don't do their jobs correctly and provide information in a timely manner. I had that with the central admissions office at my last uni and I it continued on in the school and dept right to the very end including long delays getting my certificate. So I personally would not choose a uni that starts off on that foot as it's unlikely to get better once you're actually studying there.

I think it's a bit odd that you would make a rather insulting statement about English people being rude and superior though. Every nationality in the world has their fair share of rude people that's just down to individual characteristics. To write off an entire nation as being of the same ilk seems rather unfair.


MA and MSc are both equally valid routes to a PhD so that's not an issue. You need to weigh up the content that's going to be covered in the two courses and think about the skills you'll develop and then think about which of the two provides most of what you need/ will find useful in future work. Also think about which subject interests you more. Imagine you only have funding for one. Which could you not live without? That'll be the one for you.

Mussel distribution patterns theories

You really need to be searching the research databases that are relevant to your subject for the answer/s to your question. Or ask your supervisor for a starting point. Or even as a preliminary research exercise do a google/google scholar search and see what's out there but be careful about the integrity of web sources you rely on. You can also search the library catalogue for introductory academic textbooks and other materials.

Primary Care 2011 Conf - Anyone Going?

Is anyone going to the Primary Care 2011 Conference at the Birmingham NEC this year? I am particularly interested in hearing from anyone who might be attending the sessions on palliative care/care for older people seminars/lecs/workshop. PM me if you don't want to reply to this public thread.


PhD Studentship Interview-Any Please Help

and most importantly Good Luck! (up)

PhD Studentship Interview-Any Please Help

I had a lot of the same qs as Caterpillar 27. I was also asked:
-What my five year career plan entailed (altho they said they knew it wouldn't be written in stone)
-Why I wanted to do a PhD
-Explain my choice of res qs with reference to the literature
-What difficulties I expected to encounter with the project (considering ethics, finance, patient populations etc)
-How I would deal with these especially in a financially limited era
-Did I know what academic publishing involved and how journals were ranked according to impact factors and specialisms
-Did I know where to go for help with publishing queries
-What my recruitment strategy would be and why
-Defend my choice of methodology - why I had chosen one patient population over another/ one particular meth of analysis over another
-What other organisations would be involved and how would I approach them
-What general skills other than those that are academic could I bring to a PhD?

I was asked almost exactly the same qs in the two interviews I attended and they were at unis that were in different countries!

I did not always know the answers to all the qs for example the one about ethics involved very specific knowledge of ethical approval procedures in a country where I had no idea what they would be. I just answered that I knew the ethics would be tough in any country because of my res area and that I expected to have to address things like x and x but as to the specific admin of it I didn't know but I was more than happy to learn about it because that's all part of the PhD as I saw it. And I said that I looked forward to experiencing it.

Someone mentioned something about enthusiam - that is a MAJOR point. My feedback from the interview where I was offered the project said that although I had less clinical experience than some of the other candidates my enthusiasm and passion for the subject really came through and my motivation and determination to get the project was one of the main reasons I was offered it. Now that I am here I try to not imagine myself coming across as some crazy bint hell bent on getting the place. Like some of those people on X-Factor auditions... :$

In each interview I faced a panel of 3 people. The benefit of submitting your own proposal is that you are more familiar with it and it's not TOO difficult to talk about research that you've designed. It is much harder to interview for projects where someone else has set the research agenda and you have to do a lot of groundwork to try and see where they're coming from. I did not get to interview stage with any of those pre-determined projects that I applied for and the feedback I received suggested that I hadn't quite converged with the supervisor's own vision of how the project would unfold. That's why after a depressing amount of rejections I started applying ONLY for projects where they had suggested a theme and left the entire project totally open.

Reserve list for PhD

My friend who started a PhD in 2010 was First Reserve for an MSc interview and got the interview after someone else on the shortlist was offered and accepted a place at another uni. She went for the interview and then withdrew after she was made an offer for a PhD place at another university. Her place went to someone from the same dept as it happens and now they are happily on the MSc.

In my experience of being a postgrad administrator I would say that interview shortlists are unpredictable and changeable because people change their minds and/or life circumstances means that they can't/don't want to attend etc. Sometimes it's even things like visas and living expenses for overseas candidates that makes them drop out (not that they'd want to). It's sad but true. We've also had people withdraw due to illness or because they'd become pregnant or had been offered jobs elsewhere and even because their spouse/sig.other had been relocated.

I was on a reserve list for one of the projects I was interviewed for. They told me that I was the 'First Reserve Candidate' meaning they had offered the project to another student provisionally on the basis that they achieved a certain score for their undergrad degree. If the primary candidate did not achieve the score in their provisional offer then I would be offered the place on the condition that I achieved a minimum of 2:1 for my undergrad degree.

I assumed that the first candidate would fulfil their offer and luckily I was offered a (better project) phd position elsewhere which I accepted.

To my GREAT surprise, after the degree results were published, I received a letter from the first university (which had made me first reserve) informing me that the PhD project had become available and if I had achieved a 2:1 I would be offered the position to start in Oct 2010. I wrote back to say that I had been offered, and had accepted, a place elsewhere and would no longer be able to take up that position although I was grateful for being given the opportunity. The admin office then rang me to discuss and I explained that I had accepted a place elsewhere. It turns out the first candidate was not able to fulfil their provisional offer and therefore the place was offered to me. Because I had turned it down, it would now be offered to the Second Reserve Candidate.

I am not going to lie, I was totally devastated to find out that I was First Reserve because I felt that it meant second best after someone else. I asked them for feedback on my performance (because I had another interview in the following week and I wanted to know if there was something REALLY wrong) and they told me that I had interviewed well but the only reason I had been made reserve is because the candidate ahead of me had had 12 months' clinical experience in the field and I didn't. That was the only difference. They told me that academically we had performed equally well in the interview. The following week I had an interview elsewhere and was offered that position the next day. Again, the uni where I am now had a reserve list and I was told that if I didn't meet my offer conditions or if I decided to withdraw or had been offered and accepted something else, the place would go to the Reserve. Happily this project was meant to be mine and I am now SO SO glad that I wasn't the primary candidate for the first interview because this project is exactly what I wanted whereas the first project would have been a 'well at least I would get a PhD' type experience.

I really hope you end up with the PhD place that you want. xx

Scared to do a PhD???!!!

Hey there

I would bear in mind that the opportunities for funded PhDs are becoming fewer and even more competitive. At our uni we had 1 funded place and 70 applicants for a biolog.sci. phd. So I wouldn't turn down a fantastic opportunity on the basis that a few people have had bad experiences because whilst it is a dreadful shame that they have had to go through this it does not mean that this is how it is going to be for YOU and you would not want to miss out on a great opportunity.

I am 7 months into my PhD and I have been fine so far apart from a few wobbles to do with confidence - am I doing it right? What am I doing? Am I going in the right direction? Is the project original? etc etc. However I have not met one single person at my uni and at others who have said that the phd was plain sailing and that they were always fully informed about their progress and fully confident about their ability. It's a learning process.

It's definitely not the easy option and it will challenge you, testing your emotional and psychological strength as well as your intellect and it will be trying, frustrating, maddening and exasperating but also rewarding, exhilarating, exciting and something you can feel really proud of.

I agree with the others on here - those who say they work 24/7 all 365 days of the year are exaggerating. There are certainly weeks when you would have to put in the extra hours work - esp if you are submitting a paper, writing a report or preparing for a presentation etc but it's not constant. A lot of the people that I have met that claim to work 60 hour weeks every single week can be seen surfing Facebook, lounging around the kitchen/common room, chatting to friends etc and therefore HAVE to work late into the night and at weekends to make up for lost time. I rarely work at weekends because I make sure that I get down to business during my hours (9-5 or 9-6). On occasion I have had to work long and arduous hours to complete a piece of work for a deadline and in many of these situations it's because I procrastinated about starting the project for several days :-s

I have, in the 7 months of my phd, loved it, hated it, been bored with it, excited by it and frustrated by it but ultimately I would not change it for the world and I am really pleased to be doing it. It's an emotional rollercoaster but so far I have not wanted to get off.

I wish you all the best with your decision and good luck!


Optimum PhD Position

======= Date Modified 26 Mar 2011 02:27:56 =======
Visit both if you can and choose the one you like best. Are there open days you can go to? Try to get a feel of both places including the town areas and accommodation and choose the one that you think will fit you best. Oxford and Cambridge are both exceptional institutions so you're not going to miss out on reputation by choosing one over the other.

How to get onto a PhD???

I've worked in postgrad admissions for biosciences and I can tell you that A Leveks/GCSEs are not even looked at so don't even waste time worrying about that. Unis will be looking at your first degree and any other experience you have.

There have been lots of cuts to funding for higher education recently and where I'm currently studying they've got 30 applicants for 1 funded project. It's getting very competitive and nowadays they're also looking for those with a masters so this may be a factor. In my dept all of us have a masters degree. But this is just one uni out of many and my colleague from my undergrad course got on a phd programme straight from undergrad.

I would concentrate on your finals to make sure you secure that First and continue applying anyway. I don't think for one second that you should give up your dream if this is what you really want. Sometimes you have to fight for it. If you have to do a masters first do it - you'll lots of useful skills you can carry forward to a phd.

You have a good cv behind you so I say keep going and you'll get there.

Very best of luck

Slowly Sinking

Quote From hiccup:

I feel as if i am drowning. I am struggling to even remember what the various phd research questions were that my supervisor said were good. I am just feeling pants.

I can name (but I won't ;) about 7 other people (inc me) in my year (1st year phd, 6 months in) that will tell you they went through all of these emotions/issues. Even 6 months in the same things crop up every now and again and none of us even have a baby or partners to consider in the mix so you need to realise that a) what you're feeling seems to pretty normal for a newbie and b) you have done amazingly well considering the additional enormous stress you've been through with your baby.

My tuppeny bit advice would be 'Don't Panic' and like the others have said, set small goals. You're only 3 months in you've got loads of time to establish a routine that gets you where you want to be with your phd and let's you enjoy your precious time with your family.

Seeing a counsellor or chaplain is a great idea. Clearly, as your little one has demonstrated, resilience runs in your family!!