13 October 2017

Tips to ensure that the PhD journey isn't lonesome

Sherrie Lee
Singaporean PhD student

The Ph.D. journey is often said to be lonesome. For those starting the journey or planning to, I can assure you that this is not an exaggeration. Part of making the Ph.D. journey a meaningful one is to connect with others. Here are my top three tips for ensuring that your Ph.D. journey isn’t a lonesome one.

1. Participate in activities for doctoral students

Usually, there are activities organised for doctoral students, whether at the university or faculty level. At my university, such activities include regular writing workshops, topical seminars and social lunches. My experience is that while many PhD students are often holed up in their offices, they do attend these activities, especially when the topic is a practical one for their study. 

If you keep saying you don’t have time for other things apart from studying, think about how these activities will enhance your research. Plan your time well so that you can make time to broaden your perspective, and at the same time, meet other people.

2. Network

When you attend an event or participate in an activity, do you meet new people? Or do you gravitate towards people you already know? If you do the latter, I guarantee you that your circle of friends will remain as small as it started!

I believe that networking, or making new contacts, is important for a Ph.D. student. Knowing fellow Ph.D. students from your faculty is important, but so is getting to know students from other faculties, and also people who are not Ph.D. students. Establishing a network of contacts is especially important in New Zealand where careers are built on networks and relationships.

For me, knowing people from different disciplines and areas of work helped me to understand the university better. At times, they also provided different perspectives on an issue I was looking at.

Share this story
About the contributors
Sherrie Lee
Singaporean PhD student

Sherrie is a PhD student and emergent scholar at Waikato University interested in language, literacy and identity. She is a tech-savvy multi-tasker, tea-drinker and mum who is interested in sharing her musings on teaching and research. Visit Sherrie's blog at https://teachersherrie.wordpress.com/