Post-PhD Reflection – Part I

So your PhD is done and dusted. Congratulations! So what have you gotten out of your PhD besides a new title, a piece of paper to put on your wall, and a book to go on your bookshelf (which are all very good things by the way)?

Here, I draw from my experiences as a Psychology – Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience PhD graduate at the University of Sussex visiting from the States. Although, all of our experiences are unique perhaps there are some similarities you can relate to and resonate, with but also perhaps differences. Feel free to add your own present / past experiences in the comments.

For me, the biggest thing I’ve gotten out of my PhD is confidence. Confidence reveals itself in many areas of my academic / professional life. For example, I am not afraid to go out and pick up a new skill that is needed to do my work. I know now that with some (ok sometimes a lot of) effort, I can learn a body of information, a new methodology, or a new perspective. Although not easy and sometimes frustrating, I know that it is possible; it is now more a matter of deciding whether it is worth the time and energy to acquire. Also now I am not afraid to ask questions instead of wallowing in self-doubt and floundering when I don’t understand something. After making some effort on my own, I will ask someone more knowledgeable for help in the form of an explanation or pointing me in the right direction. I am always grateful for it, and hope in future to assist others in the same way.

I also now have the confidence and ability to give presentations to different types of audiences (for example academic or the general public) for varying lengths of time. In addition, I can proficiently teach a class of undergraduates as well as train and supervise them on an individual basis.

What I’ve also gotten out of my PhD is the ability to think critically. I can read something quickly, and pull out the most important information whilst being critical of the methods and findings. Similarly for presentations I can see shortcomings and suggest alternative explanations and analyses. This helps in giving good feedback to others and in improving my own presentations / writing.

These skills and abilities I’ve picked up are valuable wherever I take my next step (I hope). How about you? What is/was your experience like?

Next time I’ll write about other transferable skills applicable inside and outside of academia and career opportunities post-PhD.


Author: Dr Jeremy Young

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