Last Friday I attended the Welcome Celebration event organised by the GCU Graduate School. It’s an annual event organised to welcome all new research students and staff. It was so good to see many new faces, people who are so enthusiastic about their research projects, and who, I believe, will be able to achieve a lot in their field. I wish them all the success on their journey! And I also believe that we can help each other to make this journey the most incredible experience in our lives. How can we do this?
1. Peer-to-peer support. I got lucky to get the best PhD colleague in the world who is in the same office with me. I think my PhD experience wouldn’t have been so positive without him. We share our thoughts and feelings about all sorts of aspects of the PhD process from student events to meetings with our supervisors. It’s so important to know that here is a person who is going through the same struggles as you, who understands your concerns and who is always ready to help. Find your buddy!
2. Being a part of your research students community. A lot of people say that PhD journey can be quite a lonely process. My answer is yes… but only if you choose it to be so. There is always somebody out there ready to listen and to help. But it’s important to take initiative and get engaged. For example, at GCU we have a Research Students Society that is trying to provide an interactive environment for all research students through social events. I find it really interesting to meet research students from other schools, learn about their PhD experience, and shape our PhD life together.
3. Become a PhD mentor for first year PhD students to make a real difference in their PhD experience and at the same time develop your own skills! Mentoring is specified in the Joint Skills Statement, and can contribute to your employability.
4. Support each other online. I’ve recently discovered the use of social networks for research purposes, and enjoy it more and more every day. It’s incredible how you can exchange research news on Twitter with a PhD student from Colombia whom you would have never met overwise. Create your Personal Learning Network!
5. Organise researcher-led seminars/conferences. It is important for us, research students, to take responsibility for our own developement. Not all universities can afford to provide numerous skills development workshops and seminars. But we can do it ourselves. I think it will be even more beneficial since these events will reflect our needs rather than views of universities on what seminars/workshops should be provided.
Have you got any other ideas on how research students can support each other? Share your views.