Signup date: 06 Jan 2014 at 4:57am
Last login: 17 Jan 2014 at 2:40pm
Post count: 8
Different countries have different ways of conducting a viva. I have a friend whose Portuguese procedure - lecture, intense questioning, all in front of an audience and all in his second language (English) at the request of his Portuguese 'superiors;' - was insane, and caused my supervisor, who was his advisor in the UK, to baulk at the system. In the UK, it's much gentler, and if you have a good supervisor, he/she will not encourage submission unless it's in a position to be defended with minimal cause for concern. I worked myself up into a frenzy of worry about my viva, but it really was not bad at all. Not enjoyable in the relaxed sense - who could relax 100%? - but with calm and non-aggressive, but still openly, and - crucially - honestly, critical, examiners, they help you to recognise your own inconsistencies or (minor) errors, in exactly the way that a collegiate endeavour that is science (or other academic study) should be. Relax, it'll be fine. Probably.
So, a little morality play to all those who applied for jobs for so many months: they are like buses! Well, not exactly. Turns out that these people from North America do want me and I'm about to apply for a visa, but in the meantime one post I applied for, although it turned out negatively for that project, the chief supervisor wrote back with a further proposal to work on analysis and paper authoring for 18 months in the south of France. Just goes to show - keep the faith! Keep plugging away, as hard as it may seem. Tough choice in the end; almost guaranteed authorship of 4+ papers with little risk and sunny weather, or, more prestigious "fellowship" with no guarantee of success and the chilly bite of the Arctic southerlies? What would everybody else choose? Careers are delicate beasts!
I found the first year to be the most relaxed, with a concentration on reading and prep lab work and experimental design. It felt like it was fairly straight forward and gave an ultimately false impression of how 'easy' it might be to get a PhD. Sure, you need to make such progress to pass the MPhil stage, but hey, you can still go and get soused on a Friday night! This doesn't last long, though. Enjoy it while you can, is my advice. However, the better prepared you are in the early days, the less stressful it becomes in the latter stages.
Thanks for the reply, TreeofLife. Yes, I have a British PhD. The fellowship is in North America, so I'm less inclined to think they'd be bowled over by my possession of a PhD from the UK, as good as it may be. I also have a Masters and accumulated a bit of experience in the private sector when I was writing-up. I never considered my CV to be that strong, but maybe I've been doing myself a disservice. The insane amount of competition in the post-doctoral world really is something to behold! In a weird way, I'd like to have an interview, just so I can get a vibe of the PIs, even though I'm not that picky a person and easy to get on with, despite my extreme displeasure and shoddy performances in them, generally. The main PI did give me contact details for former postdocs in the lab, which is another positive, I suppose. I wish my referees would hurry up though with their hagiographies, er, accurate portrayals of my brilliance...
Forgive me if this topic has been covered before, but I cannot find a similar one using the search option. My issue is this: after 20-odd applications and just the two interviews in just under a year, I was getting a little tired of rejection. I've re-jigged my CV - keeping everything truthful, of course - until I started to receive a little more attention. Now, on the basis of seemingly the CV alone, I exchanged very promising emails with a Prof in another country who, without directly saying the fellowship was mine, intimated as such - by saying such things as "we'll give you a letter" for the visa, the remuneration is such and such with travel reimbursements, and that you need hardly be Einstein to secure a second year of funding (lucky me, or for whomever actually gets it in the end), and that he needed someone in place ASAP (without specifying any kind of itinerary); mostly the kind of stuff you discuss after successful interview. Now, with Skype and other 21st century wonders, I would've expected at least an interview over the interweb. Maybe this is forthcoming, as he has requested references. The project, whilst not being totally unrelated to my PhD is different enough to make this a very desirable venture. I've tried to hide my desperation behind a veneer of cool acceptance when corresponding. Hope my hopes haven't been raised by a sad misunderstanding.
Anybody had similar experiences, bearing in mind this guy does not know me from Adam (but might know my PhD supervisor) and my publication record - thus far - is not prolific, although this is being worked on?
Actually, one more thing. Is the number of "highly competitive" applicants to have applied for every postdoc always number between 30-35? Seems the same 30-odd people apply for the same one's I do....And when a PI says they'd like to keep you in mind for further PDRA positions when funding becomes available, is that BS, cos it sure smells like it?!
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