Why PhD?

Roughly halfway through my MSc during Christmas 2013 holidays, I thought I’d start applying for interesting jobs, mostly graduate programs. I used gradcracker.com and FindaPhD.com. In total I applied to twenty-nine graduate positions across engineering-related businesses; European Space Agency, EADS, NASA, Thales, Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd, Rolls Royce, Spirax Sarco, STFC, QinetiQ, Sellafield, National Nuclear Laboratory, BP, Atkins, Babcock, Avanti, Renishaw, Energus, Deutsche Bank, Ultra Electronics, e2v, SpaceX, Selex ES, GKN Aerospace, Alstom, Surrey Space Centre, Doosan Babcock, e.on and Morgan Advanced Materials. From my applications, I passed online screening and progressed onto online assessment tests and/or interview for fifteen of them. Finally, it came down to; the Surrey PhD interviews and a Thales and Ultra Electronics assessment day, the later of which I didn’t make through. I completed my Surrey interviews and was offered a position and immediately called off Thales.

1) I can conduct research in an area that I’m interested in 2) there are many opportunities to advance my career through the people I work with and the institution in which I’ll be based 3) flexibility (super important!) 4) I am paid to study! 5) PhD is a stepping stone towards greater accomplishments with impact.

I was emailed by the Uni advertising for postgraduate note takers. This seems a good chance to earn some money, stick something else on the CV, help some unfortunate students progress in science and perhaps take notes on lectures I might’ve sat in on for some background reading. I went to the initial meeting and just have to figure out my availability/timetable – I’m currently assuming I’ll be pretty flexible but there’s a preference towards a consistent time slot for the note taking. Apparently the position isn’t limited to note taking, it could also be transcribing, reading, mobility assistance, library work, amanuensis (write or type students’ answer to questions during exams) and buddy support. It seems common for PhDs to aid undergrads in these ways and in some cases take on a mentoring role.


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