Wow, it’s been a while since I had so many things going on.
The most interesting things to happen obviously are the PhD-related ones. Earlier this week I went to talk to a PhD student who works at one of the labs I’m interested in. That was very enlightening. She told me a lot not only about the research she’s doing, but how it’s actually like to be doing it. For instance, spending 9 months doing nothing but trying to perfect a protocol, falling asleep sitting at your machinery, or spending most of your time reading papers just trying to keep up with all the new stuff coming out each day.
Yesterday I had what I suppose was an actual interview for a PhD position. It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t really think of it that way, because I couldn’t have kept my resolution of not freaking out. As it was, I just got to about a medium-low level of nervousness only when it was about 20 minutes left until the meeting. However, while I felt reasonably good about my answers to the questions, naturally, after I left, things I could’ve put better flooded my mind. So this is a note to self for next time, even though next meeting might be so different that it will be of no use at all. Still, it’s all I can do to prepare, unless you have other suggestions, please?
- Think about my current project beforehand, so I can explain not only what I do, but why it’s useful/interesting/exciting – I know all these things, obviously, but in stressful situations they often want to escape my mind.
- Refresh my memory on the relevant classes I’ve taken. I actually don’t know if that’s what Professors taking on PhD students look for, but I guess, for instance, they wouldn’t want a student who doesn’t know how an action potential is generated doing a PhD in neuroscience, investigating turtle nervous system.
- Also, I’m not sure, but I feel like it’d be good to relate my current research somehow to the project I would be doing. For instance, if there is a suggestion to make/create some sort of set-up or system to quicken up things in an experiment, I like it because I like making things, which I discovered doing my current project which is basically making chip-like thingies. I know that because I can compare that to my previous project which was testing commercially available stuff and that wasn’t so fun (even though, admittedly, that project had a number of other issues as well).
- Explain clearly why you like one project better than another. You know, giving actual reasons. Often, the only thing that keeps running through my head as I try to explain is something like ‘Oh, this will make so many pretty pictures!’ and I can’t well say that, can I? Maybe it’s better to repeat the reasons the Professor states on why he’s interested in that particular project – I mean, I don’t like to appear as though I’m just parroting someone, but if their reasons are my reasons as well, what can I do, right?
Still unable to fully comprehend that this PhD position search is actually happening – someone pinch me, or, on second thought, don’t – if I believe that I can awaken at any moment, I won’t be so scared,