By Bethan Rogoyski
You’ve made it. You can finally tell people with pride that you’re a student, a PhD student no less. The impressed reaction you get when you tell people still gives you a secret smug buzz inside. Reading papers, pioneering new scientific ideas, full of curiosity and ambition, you show up at 9am ready to research. 4 hours of wet lab induction is forgivable if it gets the ball rolling on your mission to change lives.
Yes, technically you’re still pretty much doing the same thing as last year, but hey, those experiments won’t repeat themselves! Results slowly begin to trickle in, accompanied of course by more work and surging panic – just as well you gave up having weekends 5 months ago. And if you ever do manage to achieve the unachievable and have a free Friday night and, even more impressively, manage not to spend it firmly plastered to your duvet, at least you can rest assured that any fellow party-goers have long since learned to avoid asking what you do for a living! Small victories.
The sweet spot between your second and final year; after you first glimpse the light at the end of the tunnel, but before you realise that light is in fact a flaming pyre for your social life, write-up schedule, and employment dreams. You can finally spell drosophila and know the difference between parametric and non-parametric statistical analyses. Mostly. You triumphed over reviewer three and became a published academic. Ok, so maybe your first paper ended up in the ‘Andorran Journal of Obscure Medicine’, but it was still good enough to be printed out and stuck on your parents’ fridge, and that counts as a success. Plus, you can finally book your tickets to an international conference! Thesis-relevant-themed meeting in Hull? No, thanks. Obscure conference in Hawaii? You’ve already applied for the bursary.
AAAAARRGGGHHH! Is it exciting, terrifying, or an overwhelming mixture of the two? Your time has come to venture into the “real world” of jobs, pensions, and tax that you’ve successfully avoided for the past few decades. The only thing standing in your way is tens of thousands of words followed by hours of intense interrogation. As long as nobody mentions ‘future plans’ you’ll get through it. But then maybe getting a job isn’t such a bad thing; after all, gone are the days when people are impressed by you being a student. Puzzled sidelong looks are now the response you get to telling people you’re still in school, cogs visibly whirring as they work out you must be in, what, like 27th grade? Plus, soon, when there’s an emergency on a plane someone shouts “IS THERE A DOCTOR ONBOARD?”, you can stand up and raise your hand. Sure, the most help you’ll be able to offer is loading up GraphPad and producing the perfect t-test, but you didn’t spend 8 years at uni to avoid that moment of glory.
About the Author
Bethan Rogoyski is a final year PhD student at Leicester Cancer Research Centre. Her work focuses on identifying a chemopreventive agent for populations at high-risk of developing mesothelioma. She is interested in science communications and illustration, and enjoys being part of the wider scientific community, including being a member of the EACR for the past 3 years.
Website and contact details available at phdoodles.com