End of Year Reflections (By a Doctoral Academy Intern)

As Kathleen and I come to the end of our time as Doctoral Academy Interns, as well as nearing completion of our respective PhDs, we thought it would be good to reflect on some key points from our postgraduate research adventure!

Starting out as a PhD student straight after completing my undergraduate studies, I thought I was completely equipped with all the necessary tools for research. You learn pretty quickly that there is so much more to learn than you could have ever imagined; from simple administrative tasks to complex technical problem solving. The key to success in my opinion was being able to source the answers and guidance as quickly as possible, be it through my good friend Google or simply asking people around the office or department. It is important to not be too proud to ask the ‘obvious’ questions really helped me to develop. Also, there was (and still is) an abundance of resources on the University’s myriad of web-pages, although it was not straight forward to actually find them! This is one aspect of our work as Doctoral Academy interns that I have most appreciated, trying to streamline these resources into an easily accessible location (namely the Virtual Community Space).

One of the difficulties of doing a PhD, as I’m sure any PGR will tell you, is the inevitable isolation that results from doing such a specific and focused individual project. I thoroughly enjoy getting out there and talking to people about my research and theirs, whether this is through organised academic events such as departmental or faculty conferences (e.g. USES) or in a more casual setting. At the end of the day the Doctoral Academy is all of us, every member of the postgraduate community at the University, and we are only as strong and productive as we are connected. Increasing your level of participation in University events and expanding and acknowledging the impact of your research not only helps you achieve excellence in your individual research – it also improves your University and your community, allowing you and your peers to explore a broad range of experiences. Our sincere hope is that the community feeling among PGR students across the University (a primary goal for the Doctoral Academy) will continue to develop, bringing with it greater opportunities for research dissemination and interdisciplinary opportunities.

Working as a student representative for the Doctoral Academy has been a refreshing distraction from the daily challenge of doing a PhD. We hope that the new interns will be able to build on our experiences and input their own thoughts on what the Doctoral Academy can offer to the fantastic PGRs here in Sheffield.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to represent you as Doctoral Academy Interns at the University of Sheffield. From both of us, keep up the great work in building a University community and good luck on all your future endeavors!

By: Sam Fox

June 2015