We asked postgraduate student Zoe M. Harris to write a post to give students some advice for new and current PhD students. She has done just that and some of her gems of knowledge may be useful to undergraduates as well! This is Zoe’s final post in a series of tips and advice covering the PhD and the job hunt and now: your life. 

After handing in my thesis and waiting to viva (this is an oral examination for those that don’t know!), I was applying for jobs and working as a research assistant writing papers from my PhD. I noticed that in my job interviews most of the examples I was using to show off my experience and competencies were from extra-curricular activities I was undertaking alongside my PhD. I was desperate to tell others to do this to help (and maybe even inspire…) the rest of the PG community at the University of Southampton. I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to email or tweet me to ask me anything! @Zoe_M_Harris or Z.M.Harris@soton.ac.uk

Your Life

  1. Take care of your Mental Health

These are genuine feeling I have felt during my PhD – AND THAT IS OK! There is stigma around mental health in academia and we shouldn’t be ashamed for getting down. Talk to friends, family and your supervisor. Consider getting a mentor: http://blog.soton.ac.uk/mentoring/. And make use of the universities enabling services including: self-help resources, counselling, referral for CBT, wellbeing and stress less workshops and nightline. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/edusupport/index.page.

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  1. Distract yourself

I find it really hard to relax and feel really guilty for not working so I try to do things which I cant get out of. Doing something like going to the cinema where you physically can’t do your PhD is great. Or sign up for a course, like yoga or learn to rock climb, means you have paid for it so you’ll be less likely not to go because you ‘have’ to be working.

  2. Make use of time flexibility

When you become a real grown up and have to work conventional hours you will miss this flexibility! Work at a time that is most productive for you and use the time to get some exercise in somewhere in the day.

3. Book a Holiday

One of the most productive weeks of the year is the week before your holiday. When you get back you will feel refreshed and you will be in a better mind-set about carrying on your research. But don’t take any reading with you – a holiday is a holiday – no work allowed!

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4. Sign up for PhD Comics

Ok, this counts as procrastination but is a reminder that you are not alone in how you are feeling during your PhD. And the comics are scarily accurate!

By Zoe M Harris

If you are a current University of Southampton student or alumni and you would like to write a guest blog for us, please email comms@susu.org. We would love to hear your story!