Final Year Fear

So the time has come when I can officially call myself a final year. I am both genuinely excited and abso-bloody-lutely terrified. But I do feel I’ve reached a stage in my PhD where I’ve got a good grasp of all the things I need to do to finish, and like some of them might actually be achievable!

It also turns out (I think?) that I’m the most senior PhD student in my lab, which is hilarious. I remember when I joined my lab as an undergraduate, and looking up at even the first year PhD students – they seemed so calm, so all-knowing, so determined. And the final years, even more so. Now I’ve been in the position of being a first, second, third, and now final year PhD student, I can look back and laugh. I don’t think there’s ever been a calm PhD student!!

Recently I had an appraisal, the last official assessment I have to go through before handing-in and my viva (eeeeeekk!). The preparation for my appraisal was super useful – making a thesis outline of chapters and what I’ll include, and a Gantt chart planning out what things need doing when. All of this seemed acceptable and achievable to my supervisors and appraisers, which was a great confidence boost. Now I just have to go ahead and actually do the stuff…

I also got to show off George, my new spider-robot – don’t worry, he’ll get a post (more likely several) all to himself soon. He’s a dude. If you follow me on Twitter you’ll have seen some sneak previews of him already! Here’s a little pic anyway…

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I am SO excited to write my thesis… genuinely. Not sarcasm, honest! I love writing. I love editing. I love having a story to tell, and figuring out the best way to tell it. I suspect writing it up isn’t going to be quite as wonderful as I make out, but I think (hope) I’ll really enjoy it!

Around writing-up time, I’ll also be job-hunting. And that’s exciting too! At the moment, unless anything really changes my mind, I’m going to be leaving academia and trying to find a job in science communication. All I’ve known for the last 7 years (apart from my amazing internship) is academia, and I’m really looking forward to start something new, especially something I enjoy so much as outreach and science communication. I realised early on into my PhD that actually I just love all of science, and honing in on one little area for years isn’t necessarily what gets me going. But the PhD has given me, and will continue to give me, a ton of skills that will be incredibly useful in whatever job I end up in, and for that I am grateful.

Everyone says the final year of the PhD is the hardest, and I don’t doubt that for one second, but I’m hoping I can make it the most enjoyable year. So I guess it’s time to get my head down, and portray that illusion of calm control I saw when I looked up to the final year students – even if on the inside I just want to run screaming for the hills!

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