Just as the weather starts to turn nice, soon-to-be postgrads are preparing for PhD life. You've either just finished your Masters, handed your notice in at work, or returned to academia after years/decades away. No matter where you’ve come from, you’re all starting from the same place and I hope you will love the brilliant experience you are about to begin.
It’s been almost a year since I began, and I remember spending the days and weeks beforehand worrying over what I should be doing. Should I be reading something to prepare? Will they expect me to wear anything particularly smart? How will I find out where I am meant to be going on my first day?! Etc. etc.
All these concerns were valid, but soon I realised that they don’t need to stress you out. In fact, the introduction to a PhD is a time where everyone wants to make you feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. Still, if you’re a natural worrier (like me!), here are my top tips to keep your mind at rest:
1) Talk to someone. If you’re thinking about things you could be doing to prepare for the start of your PhD, speak to someone. Your prospective supervisor or PGR administrator want to make you feel welcome, so they are the best people to ask. Why sit and wonder when there’s someone willing and wanting to help?
2) Visit in advance. For many of you, this will be your first time in Sheffield. If you’ve got the time, why not come to this lovely city in advance? Firstly, a campus visit may help you get used to the building/s that will become your second home for a few years. Secondly, a stroll around will allow you to familiarise yourself with the city, without feeling like you’re being thrown in at the deep end on your first 'official' day. Essentially, your first day will just feel like a welcome return to somewhere you’ve already begun to love.
3) Speak to the SU. Most of you will have a few practical things to sort out before you start: a new bank perhaps; moving address; registering to vote. It may be scary just going off and sorting it all yourself (it was for me too!) However, there’s great advice waiting for you when you get here from the Students’ Union. There’s a reason why they’re frequently voted one of the country's best. They can help and support with everything and anything. They’re a great safety net, and will help with issues both large and small.
On top of that, you can always talk to someone who has done it all already...like me! Please feel free to tweet my any questions you have (@ChrisDWorrall) and I’ll try my best to answer them.
Enjoy the summer... we look forward to seeing you here!
Christopher Shoop-Worrall, PhD researcher (Journalism)