February 7, 2018, by Agata

Last year PhD worries?

Are you about to finish your PhD this year? Or you maybe just started your PhD and you wonder how is it to be last year PhD? Do you think of how to ‘bite’ that last piece of your time at Uni? What smart steps you should take to finish it without much stress?
This post is about plan for last year of PhD, however, involves steps I took at the very beginning of my PhD that now ‘pays off’ to make this time being easier.

Last year PhD. Pretty exciting and stressful time for many students. So many goals to achieve while time is just running out. You need to finish work in the lab with good quality data on your research project, you need to plan and write your PhD thesis and it would be great too, in the meantime, think what you really want to do after PhD and find your dream job. On the top of it, probably at some point, your supervisor tells you to write a publication (or two). You just start sinking in the number of tasks. And additionally, you realize that in a couple of months you are running out of your PhD stiped! Will you have money to buy your food and pay a rent?! Uuuuf! So many thoughts in your head, right?

I know them, I have them even if it is just February. I know… some people would say it is too early to worry. However, I have been always planning everything in the advance (even if the plan fails in the meantime, I know I will have time to correct, adjust and rethink it) and this is just one of these moments when my planning mode is so much ON! Do you want to know how I have been preparing myself for this time and what I am planning next in my last 8 months of my PhD? If yes, please continue reading!

Here are some points of my list:

  1. Starting writing my PhD thesis ASAP – more I write now, less I will need to write up later! Obviously, splitting writing into smaller parts makes all this process not that overwhelming as it sounds. Merging my 1st and 2nd-year report took me just 2 days (in between of experiments in the lab) and suddenly it got already 100 pages of my PhD thesis! Ha! I wish writing rest of it would be that fast! ? Now over next month, I plan to add data that I produced since I wrote my 2nd-year report and new methods! Sounds doable. I want to do it now as I still remember all experimental details (what about my lab book? Yeaaaah… 3rd year PhD student lab book…). How I am going to write when I am still in the lab? I realized that the easiest way to do it for me is to stick to a very strong rule: Dedicate the first hour of my day at Uni to writing my thesis. No matter what. And yes, that needs to be in the morning! In the evening usually, I am tired and more willing to go home rather than sit down and write, therefore, the rule of writing in the evening could have been kept postponed endlessly.

  2. Finishing lab work. I read somewhere on the Internet that at the end of your PhD you do not finish your project, you just drop it. Why? There will be always some extra experiments to do, some interesting question to explore, something to repeat to make that one data point looking better at the figure. Last year of PhD is the time when you need to be (or try to be) more selective what experiments you want to perform and what to leave (for the next generation :D)

  3. Thinking about the future carrier.  That is actually what I am thinking of from the day 1 of my PhD. I made a list of techniques I have been using and courses I have attended through my PhD and from time to time I was updating it over these two years. It is a ready set of skills that could go to my CV just right now! Moreover, I have been working on my LinkedIn profile from the beginning of my PhD constantly adding new skills and connecting with people I met in my professional way. Therefore, now I already have 500+ contacts there and many of them regularly publish job alerts on theirs LinkedIn walls. I cannot say that I am 100% sure it will bring me my future job, however, at least I believe I am giving it additional chance. What if you did not create a LinkedIn profile? I recommend to do it ASAP. Do not wait until your last day of PhD! Building a priceless network takes time. It won’t happen in one day!

That is not the end of my list of 3rd year PhD student tasks and ‘worries’! Continuation in 2 weeks!

What are your last year PhD worries? Let me know in the comment!!!



Posted in Agata