With Freshers Week over and term starting proper, we thought it would be helpful to share some top tips with different groups of you about getting started and making the most of your time.
Here PhD student Mia Certo shares her top 5 tips for anyone about to embark on a PhD about how to make the best start possible.
- Find your routine. London will likely be your home base for the next four years. Allow yourself to nest and grow into the communities you live and work in. Where is your local coffee shop, grocery store, gym, or green space? Explore your surrounds and become a ‘regular’. Invest in things that will aid your productivity now, rather than putting it off. If you work well from home, build a workspace that works for you. Freecycle or Gumtree are great resources for finding desks, bookshelves, and printers to get you started.
- Grow your relationship with your supervisor. One of the not-so-well kept secrets to surviving and thriving in a PhD is having a healthy, productive relationship with your supervisor. Early on, have a conversation about work patterns, expectations, and feedback. If you know you need deadlines or regular meetings, ask for them. Your supervisor can be one of your greatest allies in your time as a doctoral student.
- Know your discounts. Society is broadly sympathetic to the economic plight of students and many retailers offer discounts. From sushi to opera, sweaters to stationery, use your discounts and enjoy the feeling of a good deal. Railcards are available to mature students with proof of full-time enrollment, so make sure to sign up and get out of London every once in a while.
- Bond with your peers. Peers in your programme will be one of your greatest sources of support and inspiration during your time in the PhD. Participate in department-hosted events early and make an effort to get to know the vibrant, interesting, and incredibly smart people around you. They are a wonderful asset. If you go further afield, it only takes a quick look at PhD Comics or Lego Grad Student to realise the global doctoral student community is alive and ready to commiserate and support.
- Plan for your rainy days. A PhD is long, and life happens around and within it. It is the norm rather than the exception to struggle at times. Familiarise yourself with support available through the LSE PhD Academy, mental health and disability resources (LSE Disability and Wellbeing, the NHS, private counselling), and other outlets for stress relief. LSESU offers a range of activities, societies, and sports. London is dotted with boxing studios, museums, and art stores. Give self-care a chance.