Phd: Any positive experiences?

posted
06-Jun-10, 11:33
by zipidee
Avatar for zipidee
posted about 8 years ago
Hi! first of all, I think this forum is great and love how supportive and helpful everyone is! I've used this as well to air problems and got some nice feedback. Looking through the posts though I've started to become really aware of all the downsides to taking on a Phd (am just starting out) and would love to know the upsides so to speak :-). What have been the positive experiences for you as a Phd student?
posted
06-Jun-10, 11:46
edited about 19 seconds later
Avatar for Keenbean
posted about 8 years ago
Hey Zipidee! I think on the forum most people tend to post when they need support or have a problem, but I think a lot of people also find upsides to their PhDs too! Personally, I'm nearly at the end of second year and I love my PhD- choosing to do what I'm doing was the best decision I've ever made! Sure, I have had the odd stressful period and whinged about it on here, but this has been massively outweighed by the good experiences. I love my topic and really enjoy working with people with Alzheimer's. I really enjoy writing papers and my first publication in particular felt like a great achievement. I have a really supportive and helpful supervisor (although sometimes I feel she does expect a bit too much of me!), and am part of a fantastic team in a great department, where I hope to stay after my PhD. I also feel a lot more confident in my abilities now- a lot of people have commented on how much more confident I am in general so I think this has transferred to other aspects of my life as well. There is honestly very little I would change about my PhD experience- I think the key things are to choose a topic that you are passionate about and to have a good supervisor. I think there will always be some stresses, because it is a steep learning curve, but I know a lot of folk who are really enjoying their PhDs, so you should start off feeling positive and not worry too much about the potential downsides unless you come across them! Best of luck with it, KB
posted
06-Jun-10, 12:04
by zipidee
Avatar for zipidee
posted about 8 years ago
Cheers KB - that's quite inspiring! (up).
posted
06-Jun-10, 16:39
edited about 19 seconds later
by Mog
Avatar for Mog
posted about 8 years ago
Hi Zipidee
Congratulations on starting your PhD adventure & I hope you enjoy it as much as many of us on here do. I love exploring a topic of my own choice & discussing issues with an amazing supervisory team. There are some duff bits & personal negatives - my own is transcribing interviews, but I'm going to change my attitude so I can recognise the benefits. I enjoy writing & thinking & doing something for myself, not as an obligation to anyone else.
Good luck & have fun! Mog :-)
posted
06-Jun-10, 17:05
by emmaki
Avatar for emmaki
posted about 8 years ago
Quote From Mog:

Hi Zipidee
Congratulations on starting your PhD adventure & I hope you enjoy it as much as many of us on here do. I love exploring a topic of my own choice & discussing issues with an amazing supervisory team. There are some duff bits & personal negatives - my own is transcribing interviews, but I'm going to change my attitude so I can recognise the benefits. I enjoy writing & thinking & doing something for myself, not as an obligation to anyone else.
Good luck & have fun! Mog :-)



I agree with you! I love my subject and I love discussing it with my two supervisors. It is very nice to have someone who shares the same "madness" with you about a certain topic, let alone having two people that share it!!!!!
Although I have difficulties, as I am based in Greece and I am working full-time here, so I have to be really organised and have strict timetebles in order to do my work, I find it a fantastic experience...
Good luck!!!
posted
06-Jun-10, 17:10
by DanB
Avatar for DanB
posted about 8 years ago
Hey Zipidee, I think it's easy for everyone to sound off on here when things aren't so great so sometimes it can seem like it's all negative!

For me, one of the best things was having a lot of freedom, although that will depend on institution/subject/supervisor etc. I was able to work from home most of the time and loved it, I really loved being able to work when I wanted. So some weeks I might only do 20 hours, others I might do 80 - it wasn't rigid. PLus it was nice to go shopping in town during the week when it was quiet and being able to take time off whenever I wanted to.

I also liked the academic freedom, I was lucky to be able to take my own path and ended up researching something really unique and I found interesting. I was ready to quit at the end of my first year, had my resignation letter written and gave it to my supervisor, so glad he didn't accept it! It's nice looking back to think, yes, I have made an original contribution. It may only be a little bit in the grand scheme of things, but it's still unique and I still did it.

I also like the fact I learned a lot of skills I now take into the workplace - I work in the private sector and they all like that I can write and give presentations confidently, that I really criticise well the work I'm doing (and that of others), someone even the other day said how "professional" my emails were, even just short ones!

Conferences as well were great, went to some really good ones and met loads and loads of very interesting people. Definitely get to as many as you can, it's such a great experience. And you might win a prize if you do a good poster or talk - I won £100 of amazon vouchers for a poster once which went nicely towards an ipod!

And, dare I say it, this is a pretty good place too if you're ever feeling down about things and want someone to chat to or advice. I used to be on here quite a few years ago when I was doing my PhD and it was great for both banter and advice. It feels weird now that I'm the one giving the advice (having just about made it through the other end!). And I have made some nice real life friends from here too, which is great!
posted
06-Jun-10, 17:20
edited about 12 seconds later
by zipidee
Avatar for zipidee
posted about 8 years ago
You're awful nice you lot - really cheered me up! Work from home and don't really know anyone (friends or family) doing a Phd so had been using this forum to find out what it's like. Felt like was at the bottom of a mountain all ready for the ascent and see other climbers talking about how hard-going it was and back-pack started to feel a bit heavy (if that's not taking the metaphor too far :-) ). Am totally not taking away from the forum being an excellent place to vent and get support - imagine will be doing exactly that over next few years! But great as a newbie (although am 36 - ahh!) to hear some positive tales too. Thanks again!
posted
06-Jun-10, 17:46
Avatar for stressed
posted about 8 years ago
I totally understand what you're saying, sometimes it can get pretty negative here, but its a 'safe' place for us to vent, cry, shout, throw our toys well and truly out of our pram at great velocity, be totally unprofessional - then get a cyber hug or kick up the bum and move on again :-)

I'm at the end of my 2nd year now and I think for me it is the freedom and the space to research something that interests me so much and to develop both as an academic and a person. I must confess, half the time I hate it so much and have many mini tantrums, but the other half of the time I love it and can't imagine what else I could be doing :-) I also enjoy getting to spend time with interesting people and learning from them - my supervisory team, the other students (although I don't see much of them) and also being here. Like you I'm not your average PhD student, I'm 40, but then thinking about it quite a few of us here are in our 30s and 40s so maybe we are average lol :-) Its such a change from the rest of my life to date and I do love that I'm actually doing something that challenges me, stretches me mentally and emotionally and that I can do it - that never ceases to amaze me lol - its so weird to have someone you respect say well done, that is extremely interesting and you're onto something there - even more weird when your sup says that you've proved him wrong in his books and now have to state that on paper lol lol lol.
Its hard, it really is at times, but there are great points. I think its actually helpful to see it warts and all here, it removes the rose coloured spectacles and shows it as it is, good times, bad times, awful times and then we get 4 new Drs in a week which is just absolutely amazing times :-)
posted
06-Jun-10, 17:47
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for chrisrolinski
posted about 8 years ago

I often complain and get distressed by the PhD process - esp being so close to the end - but there have been many upsides! I have been lucky to have quite motivated supervisors who have encouraged me to publish and go to conferences so I have been able to travel much more so than I would if I had been just working, I think. I applied for a doctoral fellowship at another European institute and was able to live abroad for 6 mths which was amazing and prob. the crowning point of my education :) I have almost taken 4 years to do a humanities PhD so sometimes I feel like I have taken too long, but I think I have squeezed a lot into it. Just tired now, but even when the thesis reduces me to tears I still remember that it has been good for me! Like DanB I feel like the critical and writing skills that a PhD gives will be valuable life-long skills. It feels rather strange to read my cv and look at my words in print. It almost feels like it happened to a different person sometimes!
posted
06-Jun-10, 17:56
by sneaks
Avatar for sneaks
posted about 8 years ago
positive experiences for me is mainly being able to work at home, this has allowed me to
a) scoff my face whenever I feel like
b) watch 'the wright stuff' and other daytime tv if I feel like it
c) work my own hours
d) smirk away to you tube vids without tutting desk-neighbours.
e) sing out of tune while waiting for SPSS to finish computing
f) swear VERY loudly at word when it decides to corrupt documents
g) drink so much coffee that I dance around my home office for hours in a 'zingy' mood being unable to work

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