What would a PhD graduate advise a new PhD student?7 min read
What would a PhD graduate advise a new PhD student? I don’t have personal experience, but based on common advice from PhD graduates, here are some tips for new PhD students:
Develop a clear research plan and goal: Having a clear plan and goal for your research can help you stay focused and motivated throughout the PhD journey.
Network and build relationships: Building relationships with other researchers and professionals in your field can help you grow both professionally and personally. Attend conferences, join research groups, and seek out collaboration opportunities.
Stay organized: Keep track of your research progress, deadlines, and important information in a well-organized manner. This can help you save time and avoid stress.
Take care of yourself: Pursuing a PhD can be demanding, so it’s important to take care of your physical and mental health. Find a healthy work-life balance and make time for activities that you enjoy.
Seek support: Don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisor, other faculty members, or fellow students for help or advice when needed. Having a support system can help you overcome challenges and succeed in your research.
Stay up to date: Keep up with the latest developments and advancements in your field by reading research papers, attending conferences and workshops, and engaging in discussions with peers.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Don’t hesitate to reach out to others for advice or assistance when needed
.Celebrate small successes: They’re usually hard to come by when you’re a PhD student. Did you submit that manuscript? Enjoy a nice dinner! Did you finally get a nice fit to your data? Enjoy a nice dinner! Did you finally optimize your recipe? Enjoy a nice dinner! Did she say yes? Go nuts!
Stay motivated: Pursuing a PhD can be a long and challenging process, but it’s important to stay motivated and focused on your goals. Set achievable milestones and reward yourself when you reach them.
Manage your time effectively: Time management is crucial during a PhD program, as you need to balance your research with coursework, meetings, and other responsibilities. Make a schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
Cultivate a growth mindset: Embrace challenges and view them as opportunities for growth and learning. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks, and instead, use them as opportunities to improve your skills and knowledge.
Find a mentor: Having a mentor can be incredibly helpful during your PhD journey. Seek out someone in your field who you respect and admire, and ask for their guidance and advice.
Stay curious: Maintaining a curious and inquisitive mindset can help you stay engaged with your research and keep your ideas fresh. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, try new approaches, and explore new avenues of inquiry.
Be open to feedback: Regularly seek out feedback on your research and be open to constructive criticism. This can help you identify areas for improvement and make your work stronger.
Collaborate with others: Collaborating with other researchers and professionals in your field can help you expand your network, develop new skills, and achieve more together than you could alone.
Celebrate your successes: Remember to take the time to celebrate your successes and achievements, no matter how small they may be. Celebrating your progress can help you stay motivated and focused on your goals.
Adapt: The key to surviving a PhD is adaptability. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to survive if I didn’t adapt; and fast. Now, even in my 12th year as a scientist, I’m still adapting to changes and events around me. Love, passion, wanting to learn more, push your limits are all fine, but, if you’re heading into a PhD you’ll need to learn to adapt. In the words of the immortal Metallica, “nothing else matters.”
Be proactive: Don’t wait for opportunities to come to you, instead, actively seek them out. Apply for grants, attend conferences, and reach out to potential collaborators.
Communicate clearly and effectively: Good communication skills are essential for success in a PhD program. Ensure that you can effectively convey your ideas, both in writing and in person, to a variety of audiences.
Stay adaptable: The world of research is constantly changing, so be prepared to adapt to new developments and be open to changing your approach when necessary.
Build a diverse network: Building a diverse network of people from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives can help you see your research in a new light and expand your thinking.
Manage stress: Pursuing a PhD can be stressful at times, so it’s important to have strategies for managing stress. This can include exercise, mindfulness, time management, and seeking support from others when needed.
Prioritize self-care: Taking care of yourself should always be a priority, especially during a demanding PhD program. Make time for self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and hobbies to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Stay focused on the bigger picture: Remember why you started your PhD program in the first place and keep your ultimate goals in mind. This can help you stay motivated and focused, even when faced with challenges.
Seek feedback: Regularly seek out feedback from your advisor, peers, and others in your field to help you improve your research and stay on track.
Read broadly: To gain a deep understanding of your field and stay up-to-date with the latest developments, it’s important to read widely and stay informed about the latest research and trends.
Take advantage of opportunities: PhD programs often offer a variety of opportunities to gain experience, such as teaching, internships, and research collaborations. Take advantage of these opportunities to build your skills and enhance your CV.
Stay positive: Pursuing a PhD can be challenging at times, but it’s important to stay positive and maintain a growth mindset. Focus on your progress and celebrate your successes along the way.
Manage your finances: Pursuing a PhD can be expensive, so it’s important to manage your finances carefully and make smart decisions about spending and savings.
Be patient: Earning a PhD takes time and effort, so it’s important to be patient and stay committed to your goals, even when progress may be slow.
Get involved in your community: Engaging in your academic and local community can help you build relationships, gain new perspectives, and make a positive impact.
Maintain a work-life balance: Striving for a healthy work-life balance is essential for success in a PhD program. Make time for friends, family, and hobbies to avoid burnout and maintain a sense of well-being.
Make your PhD count: You didn’t manage to get into that fancy school abroad and had to settle for a PhD in your country itself? Don’t worry about it. Your objective is to make your PhD count. Transform yourself. Become the master of adapting to failure. Acquire those skills that make you that company’s most desirable candidate.
Embrace failure: You need to understand that you’re going to spend the better portion of your PhD generating horrible data, drawing absolutely useless conclusions, miserably bombing your experiments. However, remember. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, the tunnel might be long. Like, really long. But, there IS light! You just need to be that little extra patient and perseverant. You’ll get there. This is how you become a master of adapting to failure. Companies are going to kill to have you!
Develop good writing habits: Writing is a critical component of a PhD program, and it’s important to develop good writing habits early on. Set aside time each day for writing, and seek out opportunities to get feedback on your writing from peers and advisors.
Learn to present your research: Being able to effectively present your research is crucial for success in a PhD program. Practice your presentation skills, and seek out opportunities to present at conferences and other events.
Stay organized: Good organizational skills are essential for success in a PhD program. Keep track of your research, meetings, and deadlines, and use tools like calendars and to-do lists to stay on top of your work.
Learn how to network: Building a strong network of professionals in your field can be incredibly valuable during your PhD journey. Attend conferences, join professional organizations, and reach out to potential collaborators to expand your network.
Seek out support: Pursuing a PhD can be challenging, and it’s important to seek out support when needed. This can include support from family and friends, as well as counseling or other mental health services.
Stay up-to-date with technology: Technology plays an increasingly important role in research, and it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest tools and techniques. Seek out training and workshops, and take advantage of online resources to build your skills.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help: No one knows everything, and it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. Reach out to your advisor, peers, and others in your field for assistance and guidance.
Take care of your physical and mental health: Taking care of your physical and mental health is essential for success in a PhD program. Make time for exercise, healthy eating, and self-care to maintain your well-being.
Be humble: You might be doing a PhD. But you still wouldn’t know everything and are still going to have to reach out to people for help. Be humble. Be kind. Be punctual. Be respectful. Even after you graduate and become Dr. Smart. These would take you far in your career. Personally and professionally.
Remember, earning a PhD is a journey and will have its ups and downs, but with persistence, hard work, and support, you can achieve your goals.