So you have got the PhD checklist and you have brushed up on your time management skills but what other skills are you going to need to get through this PhD?
So that chart may look a bit scary (particularly as this is not even an extensive list) but here’s the good news – you must already have some of those skills otherwise you would not have come this far in your academic career.
However it is a good idea to identify any weaknesses you have at the START of your PhD. That way you can you can:
a) Plan for where you have difficulties / tasks will take you a bit longer to complete
b) You will be less stressed when it comes to the really important stuff like doing the data analysis, writing up and getting published.
c) You will finish your PhD with more and / or stronger skills than you had before
One way of improving your skills (particularly IT skills) is through sessions that your University might provide. Although you may be tempted not to sign up to these sessions because they can take time out of your working week, they will be worth it in the end. So if you sign up to these early (in your 1st year) then at least these sessions won’t be eating into precious time to write up your work.
The careers service at your university should also be able to point you in the direction of workshops / seminars etc. both internal and external to help you with your personal development.
Sounds like a good idea? But wondering how you are going to fit it all in and keep track of it all?
Well there are tools that can help you with improving your skills and help you keep tabs on your progress!
One of the good resources that I know of is the Vitae Researcher Development Framework Planner
This tool allows you to identify areas of improvement and keep records of what you have done to make improvements. What I really like about it is that it allows you to set deadlines for improvements which helps motivate you to actively change your skill set so you do make improvements at your own pace.
Alternatively you could set up plans / time scales using programmes such as Excel and Project planner*.
Well that’s it from me. I hope my final piece of advice is useful to you, putting you ahead of the game before you have even started. Have fun and good luck!
*other programs available.