The PhD experience at any university can be challenging or overwhelming at times. Undoubtedly, everyone has feelings like this at some point. But, LSE has important resources for PhD students to help them navigate their doctorates, and if you’re an incoming PhD student, it is vital you know about them. Even those who have been at LSE for a while could use refreshers too.
The PhD Academy is our community home on campus. Housed on the fourth floor of LSE Library, it is a private space for PhD students to work, relax, and meet other students. It has comfortable beanbags, chairs, and couches along with dining tables, a small kitchen, and a conference room for larger meetings, presentations, and seminars. The professional PhD Academy staff also have their offices in this space. I have found the PhD Academy is an under-utilised resource, but I am not sure why. Nearly everything we need as PhD students, from administrative information and professional help to academic development and a dedicated space, can be found at the PhD Academy. If you’re an incoming PhD student, I urge you to get use the PhD Academy as much as possible.
LSE Career Services is a wonderful resource for us and all PhD students should use them and use them often. During my first weeks of being a PhD student at LSE, I set up a one-on-one meeting with Catherine Reynolds, our dedicated PhD careers officer at Career Services, to talk to her about the different things I needed to think about if I was interested in an academic career after completing my PhD. She broke down the process for me into different categories and clearly explained to me the different components I needed to consider. It was extremely useful. LSE Careers also holds regular professional development and careers sessions for PhD students to help us navigate both the academic and non-academic job markets. They are there to help us and hold a lot of insight, so this is definitely a resource to take advantage of throughout your time at LSE and beyond.
Last, but certainly not least, explore the network in your home department that exists right at your finger tips. Of course, this should include your supervisor, but you should also forge relationships with other professors, the department’s professional services staff, and the other PhD students in your department. I have learned so much from the people in my department just through informal conversations on campus. They have been immensely illuminating and have continued to guide me. Building relationships is always important no matter what you do, but it is particularly crucial for us as young scholars looking to navigate what can often be an opaque field. Establishing friendships in your home department can go a long way in helping you steer and take control of your own doctoral experience.