PhD Program Offers More than Just a Degree
Pursuing a Ph.D. is a challenge. I was nervous when I started. However, I soon learned that the benefits go beyond academia. Now, as I continue, I have gained confidence in my abilities and my opportunities for the future. This is a challenge that I needed to help me develop as a person.
I want others to learn from my experience. I want them to see that if I transformed from a shy, nervous person to a confident researcher, then they can too.
The Importance of Extracurricular Activities
Yes, your research and classes are important. However, you need to embrace the social opportunities of a Ph.D. program. There are extracurricular opportunities that help you meet other students, find new interests, and relieve stress.
I decided to enter a competition that awarded research funding as a prize. I confronted my fears in presenting my work and realized I was always going to be in competition with others. However, I did not win the competition, but the experience laid the foundation for other competitions, including one I am entering on Ethics in Biomedicine.
I, like most students, thought a Ph.D. program would be a solitary experience. Long hours alone in the library and laboratory, and little interaction with others. I quickly realized I was wrong. The extracurricular activities I was involved introduced me to the social aspect of a Ph.D. program. However, I also learned the value of communication, as a student, researcher, and as a team member.
Working within a department is an essential necessity of a Ph.D. program. It gives you an opportunity to see how a professional environment operates. I found it very intriguing and thought-provoking to talk to and work with my colleagues and professors on various projects.
At my first conference, I was very nervous, especially when I saw the audience in front of me. However, once I started presenting my work I grew more confident. I was even able to answer the questions that the audience asked easily.
Teaching is all about communication. It is an opportunity to develop communication skills on a one-on-one level. I would help students in their work and on their individual papers, furthermore, I would guide them on other needs too
Developing professional skills is a necessity for future growth in any field. This includes skills that translate across industries, like problem-solving, leadership, and management.
Coursework. Field exams. Conference presentations. Many employers, in any professional field, value the analytical and problem-solving skills that this work requires. And, since these tasks are done throughout the entire program, you have the ability to continue to develop and improve these skills.
Leadership and Management
Project management: The entire experience in a Ph.D. program is an exercise in project management. This includes organizing coursework and research, time management, teaching responsibilities, and working with your professors and advisors.
Collaboration: Collaborative projects gave me essential experience with team dynamics and managing large-scale projects.
Student associations: In my second year, I decided to join the department’s student organization. I worked on planning conferences, group activities, and study sessions. Hence, this was an excellent introduction to the development and implementation of projects from beginning to end.
I also focused on online opportunities, including online courses and professional development opportunities. This is a good complement to the requirements of a Ph.D. program. Also, they can help you in both your academic and professional careers.
At times, I found myself wanting something new to stimulate my mind. Online courses allow me to further my education in many ways. I can find courses that are offered in my research field as well as in other fields. Additionally, I can develop valuable computer skills as I take these courses.
There are plenty of online certification courses as well. Additionally, these include courses on foreign languages and computer programming. I felt that these skills would help give me an edge in any industry.
My Growth as a Person
We all need a framework for how we are going to pursue our academic and professional development. My Ph.D. program goes far beyond the requirements of my field. I know how to research. I know how to write. This is obvious. Subsequently, due to my desire to pursue other avenues of learning, I feel I have put myself on a professional journey toward success. Therefore, I feel that I have made myself a top-tier candidate for any position in any industry.
What are your experiences with planning and measuring your development? What have you found to be the most useful and productive? Please share with us in the comments.