All 2 entries tagged Nicola

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November 23, 2011

Is there Life after Warwick? – by Nicola

Do I want to leave Warwick?

It's one of the many, many, many questions I have to consider about my future. Quite a few people I know at the moment are trying to work out whether they want to continue in Academia, move into industry or try something entirely new and it's something we all have to think about at some point...should I leave the university and if so, where do I go and what should I do?

I will have been at Warwick a grand total of 8 years by the end of my PhD and I feel like I should move on, but is it that easy?

Pub conversations are not always the most coherent but the topic of "moving on" nearly always comes up. Most people say that leaving is the only option if you have completed both your undergrad and PhD at the same university. Staying will only to "terminate your career" - but is it that important to move on straight away? Does it really make you unemployable in the future if you have spent such a long time in one place? If you're happy with your supervisor / group / subject area and are offered a postdoc salary surely staying should be considered?

I’m lucky in the sense that I know I want to stay in science. A large part of me wants to leave to explore a new place and work in a new environment but I’m pretty scared of leaving somewhere that has been a constant in my life for so long. Ideally, I’d like to leave the UK to work in America or perhaps Europe and take a few people with me but sadly I don’t think it quite works like that!

Has anyone else been thinking about what to do after Warwick? Or any comments on leaving the university or UK or whether we have to leave at all?

I have to make a decision that will help me further my career but also a decision that ultimately I’m happy with. I just didn’t expect to have to make such an adult decision so soon…when did I become a final year student…!?


November 13, 2011

VIVA – the most frightening set of letters to a PhD student… – by Nicola

Editor's Note: Everyone please welcome Nicola as our newest blogger! Nicola is entering her 3rd year as a PhD student in Chemistry and is, I can assure you, fabulous. - Anna

As I sat doodling my own version of pacman world in the back of my lab book (I was waiting for some stuff to cool down) my mind began to wonder about what I will be doing this time next year....

My submission date is Dec 2012 so I'm guessing this time next year I may be panicking just a little! Writing a thesis is something that I know I have to do and definitely will not enjoy but hopefully I should be able to string some work together. What does worry me is defending it.

As part of the chemistry course we have "interim" vivas each year to either (a) give us a sharp kick up the bum (b) praise our hard work and efforts and (c) to give us practice... Generally, (a) occurs during the first year viva (mine was positively horrendous!) and (b) in the second year.

I had my second year viva last week which went well and although I was thankful when it was over I had the sad realisation that the next time I'm sitting opposite a panel of experts it will be when two people decide whether or not I'm good enough to add Dr. in front of my name. To be totally honest, I'm not really looking forward to it. The last three students to sit vivas passed and there are still two students ahead of me and I'm sure they will both pass without any issues. What if I'm the first one to make a massive mistake and fail by talking myself out of a PhD?

Do other subjects have "practice" vivas or receive any help with preparing for the real thing? As I still have over a year left am I worrying about it too soon? Is there anyway to be less nervous before and during a viva?

Although, as chemists, we seem to spend a lot of time presenting our work, practicing and stressing about the viva, is there ever any way we can prepare enough to be sure that we will pass?


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