The Graduate Science Showcase – what’s it all about?

It seems only yesterday that I was diligently attending my PhD induction lectures. And now here I am in my third year, being prompted to prepare a poster for the Graduate Science Showcase. This is an annual event at the University of Sheffield that brings together PhD Research students from across the whole Faculty of Science.  Even though it is meant to be an informal celebration of our diverse research project, I feel the pressure to perform well. With cash prizes on offer for the best posters, the standard is sure to be red hot!

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The Faculty of Science Showcase: a valuable experience

Last Tuesday 17 April the Faculty of Science Showcase – or poster day as most people know it – took place. Showcase is an event in the Octagon where many PhD students from the Faculty of Science present a poster with their work. Everyone can go and take a look at the posters and if it is lucky enough, the author will be there to explain it and answer questions. The presenters are mostly second and third year PhD students, depending on the department. I, as a second year PhD student in the Department of Psychology, had to be there and this is my experience. Continue reading

Getting a PhD: Advice from someone who does not yet have a PhD

So you’ve finally made the decision. You’ve decided to shun the real world a little bit longer and take the first steps toward a career in academia. A PhD. Or at least that’s the goal. You’ve got to get accepted on to one first. As it often is with many things in life, getting a PhD is more complicated than it seems. Gone are the days of one simple UCAS application and instead is a rather more confusing application process. It can be to difficult to navigate all the different steps involved in applying to a PhD, and as someone who has not yet been accepted onto a PhD program, I have had a lot of experience with the various ways of applying, so I thought I’d give you a little guidance on how to make your way through the maze. Continue reading

The last hurdle: preparing for a viva

Sometime in the future – a time and place that I cannot envisage at present – I will finish my thesis. It will have taken 3 years and consist of 75,000 words, as a PhD in English Literature dictates, and will have taken a large part of my soul to complete I imagine. I will afterward roam around a world without the daily writing and research, where I am not sat at my desk and rediscover the outdoors. However, I must be wary not to fall into the habit of doing nothing or lose motivation just then as I’ll have one more thing to complete: the viva voce. Continue reading

Earning some pocket money whilst doing a PhD

Most people know that you don’t do a PhD for the money, but rather for the love of your subject. PhD students are generally paid a stipend though, a non-taxable sum of money to cover basic living costs. This can range in amount but it’s always nice to be able to earn a bit more money on the side to enable you to treat yourself every now and again. It varies widely from department to department, but especially in the Science departments, there are a great number of ways to earn a bit more money, alongside your studies, at the same time as enhancing your CV. Continue reading

That’ll learn ‘em: a student’s guide to teaching students

Teaching was always one of the biggest draws for me when considering whether or not to take on a PhD, and the University of Sheffield offers some doctoral students the opportunity to teach first-year undergraduates during their second or third year of study. It is a great chance to not only gain invaluable experience in terms of future employment in academia, but outside of it too. Responsibilities typically consist of a one-hour seminar and one-hour office hour, where the student(s) can come and talk about any issues they have with the course, or materials/assessments they’d like clarified. I’ve been lucky enough to be taken on as a Graduate Teaching Assistant this year, in my third and final year of postdoctoral study, and I’m very much looking forward to the whole experience, though a little apprehensive too I must admit. Continue reading

The Sheffield Scholarship Celebration Event

As we approach the end of 2017, it feels timely and appropriate to pause and take stock of the year so far –  to give thanks for all the positive experiences and memories, and to show gratitude to the people who helped to make these moments possible.

A significant memory from my own year has to my attendance to the Sheffield Scholarship Celebration Event held at The Octagon on Tuesday 7th November 2017. The evening, designed to congratulate those in receipt of a scholarship award, was a truly memorable event for me. As I sat chatting to other scholarship award winners, surrounded by balloons, confetti and buffet galore, I felt a sense of awe at the welcome that had been extended to us. If I’m being honest, I’ve never really been celebrated in that way before. I’ve never had an institution invest in me so fully.

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Taught Masters vs. Undergraduate degree

I recently started my master’s degree in Translational Neuropathology (yeah the name kinda scares me too) here at the University of Sheffield! As well as all of the changes that come with moving to a new university, I have also found that doing a masters is quite different to undergrad. Sure, there are some similarities, it’s still a taught cause after all, but it definitely takes some getting used to. At four weeks in, here are the differences I’ve found so far:

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Researchers unite! Knit your troubles away…

By the time this blanket is ready, the baby will have graduated from university!

It’s very satisfying to make something entirely by hand. But when it comes to knitting, it seems that I am definitely NOT a natural. However, even though our aim was to make blankets for premature babies at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, the atmosphere here was so friendly that my dismal progress didn’t seem to matter. Continue reading

“So, what do you do?”: Networking at University

Now, I hate to use the “mature student” card but I feel I simply can’t do this topic justice without drawing on some personal experience. After completing my Master’s degree, I decided it was time for a break from academia, try my hand at a “real job” and so I set out to find employment in big London town. It’s important to emphasise that my experiences may not apply to everyone, as one post-University life is totally different from another but, as I slogged through application after application for each job I began to realise one niggling regret: I wish I’d made more of the University’s networks. Continue reading