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Excessive use of screens.

The older I get, the more strain screens have on my eyes. I get exhausted very quickly. The kindle doesn't really help. I also like to jot notes on the papers and especially staple summary notes to the back to help with writing up.
Of course all of that should be past tense now.

Have you seen anyone who got a postdoc job without a first-authored paper?

It will certainly differ by field I would expect.

There is also another factor where tons of students pursue perceived reputation first and foremost and the science is very much a secondary consideration. I wouldn't even want to guess how many applications arrive on the desk of a Nobel prize winner or a very well known researcher at Oxford, Cambridge or one of the Ivy League unis.

This happens with graduate jobs too. You get some companies receiving tens of thousands of applications from graduates simply because they have appeared on a "best employer" list somewhere, with other much better companies receiving none at all because they are smaller and off list. I must admit that I find this baffling behaviour because for me, the job is everything but I appear to be in a minority.

The symptom of this is that some people just struggle to get positions whilst other possibly less talented people seem to simply walk from one role to another, seemingly effortlessly.

It's up to people how hard they want to make things for themselves whilst balancing up the perceived benefits.

Excessive use of screens.

I must admit I prefer reading hard copies of papers and books rather than on the screen but I don't like wasting trees either.

doubts about applying for a phd, any chemistry phd students here?

Others will have differing views on a good dissertation but my method is to split it into 3 main sections each about one third proportion.
You are telling a story of your research, why you are doing it and how it fits in with the current state of the art and how it advances what is known.

So a literature review is the first section, telling the history of your area of interest.
Then a description section of what you have done and how you have done it.
Then a results section with full analysis and conclusions.
Finally, a few pages of ideas for future work.

doubts about applying for a phd, any chemistry phd students here?

A 2:1 is not ideal but it will depend on the number of competing students who apply for the same post but you should get something without too much trouble. You might struggle to get the ideal position but you won't know until you try applying.

Have you seen anyone who got a postdoc job without a first-authored paper?

sciencephd, several of my ex PhD colleagues have no first author papers and all of them had no issues getting postdoc positions in Russell Group universities across the UK. None of them were particularly gifted and none of them came from an RG uni so I wouldn't lose too much sleep over any of this.
Obviously a first author paper won't harm you but it's not the end of the world if you have good reasons for not having one. It is particularly difficult to get first authorship if you are a computational chemist working in a group for example unless you are either demonstrating the limits of a technique or testing a new method.

As with everything, it's about supply and demand. If your prospective postdoc position gains a lot of applications, you'll have some issues but there are plenty of academics in all universities who struggle to attract good candidates. Therein lies your opportunity and there are plenty of them.

Not sure if I'm making progress

No, I came up with the idea just after I finished.

I have been running my own businesses (a few different types) for many years now so the main skills I am lacking are all technical based.

Unless you have money behind you I would definitely recommend learning one core entrepeneurial topic at a time at the weekends during your PhD if you can find the time and energy.

Advice? Avoid business books and courses. People make business sound really difficult when actually it's the easiest principle in the world. Here's what I would do with your idea if I was in your position.

1) Develop your technical skills ASAP - coding, graphical design etc.
2) Create a growing range of applications now and start listing them on GITHUB. Make them free to download.
3) Start marketing yourself and your games. Find a compelling story linked to your prospective business and start posting videos, blogs, pictures all over social media linking back to your company or your GITHUB resource.
4) Build an audience using 3).
5) Sell to that audience only once you've created that audience, Otherwise you may as well shout at the clouds.
6) Try and do everything yourself. This saves money and is incredibly rewarding and empowering. The PhD should be teaching you how to be fully independent so use that learning.
7) Don't spend any money unless you need to. Ruthlessly protect your reserves.
8) Never EVER go to Dragons Den or anything like that unless you absolutely must. They are leeches.

Are there days where you don't do any work at all?

Judging your productivity by time worked is not a good idea.
It's far better to set goals and keep an "achievements" book to help you remember how much you are doing.
List everything you do which pushes you along the path to your PhD award. As time goes by the granularity of your achievements should increase. I would record a note every time you finish a chapter or a full book for example.

Not sure if I'm making progress

After my PhD I jumped in to help run our 10 year old family business which we subsequently closed down as we wanted to try something different. I then setup another business, designed the website and an accounting system, bought stock and got everything online. Because I did everything myself this took a while. Once it was all up and running I handed it over to my daughters to run.

When I finished my PhD I had a ridiculously ambitious idea for a technical based business but I have some gaping maths and programming holes in my knowledge. I am therefore in the process of actively filling those holes before having a go at this new idea. Financially this is not an easy period but none of the alternatives such as academia, employment or freelancing appeal to me at all. I'll just keep plugging away until I can secure some income. No man's land is probably the best way to describe my situation but I am much happier despite the hopefully temporary lack of income.

Bad first masters, doing second one - okay to not mention the first at PhD?

If you focus on doing really well in your new Masters programme your old grades won't matter.
I won't harm you to mention it as long as you can show you've fixed whatever problems you had at that time.
I know people who did a Masters to fix a 3rd class honours degree and then went on to do a PhD.

doubts about applying for a phd, any chemistry phd students here?

Wanting to take a break from academia is understandable but you'll be giving up a £25k job for one at £14k when you come back to the PhD so bear that in mind.

If you go for industry you should try and find a job which gives you the skills you think you are missing.
PhD supervisors are less interested in you having this experience and more interested in your academic record and availability.

You can make this decision knowing it's going to make no difference to your chances of securing a PhD position a year or two down the road.

Anyone here use Linux?

Jamie, what type of computations are you running on that home setup you showed us a picture of?
Is it biochem?
Does it run fast enough for it to be practical?

doubts about applying for a phd, any chemistry phd students here?

I've done plenty of both practical research lab Chemistry (almost 2 years between summer breaks and a years industrial synthesis placement) and theoretical Chemistry during my PhD so I can advise.

What would be the purpose of the year out in industry?
If it's to get lab experience I honestly wouldn't worry about that.
I'm not a big fan of doing a PhD without gaining a 1st or a very good 2:1 because having a solid theoretical background really is essential but that's just my own view. You should have few problems getting a position.

Personally, I think that if you really want to do a PhD you should go ahead and apply. If you agree to start in September you have a few months to fill any gaps in your knowledge and do some literature reviewing before you really get going.

PhD funding for NHS consultant already on substantive post.

I'm a bit confused here. What path is extremely hard/difficult once you reach a substantial consultant position?

first time meeting supervisors

It absolutely IS an interview and you should treat it as such.

You need to try to sort the nerves. You have those nerves because you have put these PhD supervisors on a pedestal and are desperate to impress them to the exclusion of all other considerations. Remember you are interviewing them too and good candidates are hard to find. Respect your own worth and value to them. Failure to do this gets students into trouble and there's no shortage of evidence for that on this forum.