I've graduated with a PhD! Last week was the final event in the 'Adventures of a PhD Candidate' where I attended the graduation ceremony to be given the piece of paper that says I have a Doctorate of Philosophy. It was a fantastic day, with a lot of rain, a lot of clapping, and a lot of family and friends.
A PhD isn't something one should take lightly, especially in the beginning. I started out my PhD as a wide-eyed student with stars in my heart. I was young and unsure of what was coming. If I could go back and give myself some advice, I'm not sure I would. I have learnt so many things during the last 6 years and I wouldn't be who I am now, or where I am, without everything that had happened.
I learnt how to present. During my PhD I had the opportunity to represent my department, and ANU, around the world at conferences, outreach events, and public speaking competitions. On a whim I took part in a public speaking competition and it changed how I present my work and myself to people. I love public speaking now.
I learnt how to teach. Through public speaking I was introduced to teaching. This changed how I interact with other people when working together but also inspired something in me to want to learn how to explain the most complicated things in a way that other people could understand and learn from. Now I am a trainer at Teradata and get to teach programming.
I learnt how to write in different ways. Although I could write before taking up my PhD, my writing was very much a casual affair, using colloquial english. Through my PhD I had to learn to write like a scientist, so I would be taken seriously and to be understood by others in my field. But I learnt how to use the scientific language but still be understood by people who were not in my field. It was difficult as this wasn't widely the way to write papers or your thesis but I persevered as I believe that science doesn't need to be complicated to be smart.
I learnt to work with many different people. Throughout my studies I have worked with people from around the world, all at different levels, and with all different capacities and abilities. This has been a very big help for the rest of my life, both socially and in the work place.
I learnt what I was capable of. The biggest thing I learnt in my PhD, and the reason why I wouldn't change what happened, is what I am capable of. I am capable of anything I put my mind to, I can learn anything I am interested in, and I can get through the absolute worst of times.
My PhD wasn't an easy or relaxing time. I pushed boundaries and tried to change things that did not want to change. I didn't agree that academics had to stay academics, and I thought the way many scientists talk about their research was overly complicated and could have been simpler explained. I thought that being higher in the hierarchy wasn't a reason to be condescending to those below you and I wanted to see a change in academia that wasn't going to happen in my time. But I am glad that I persevered and made it to the last event.
I wouldn't have been able to get this far if it hadn't been for many people helping me out. For all of you, and you know who you are, thank you for everything!
I did it! There's now a new Doctor in the Apartment (I'd say house but I don't spend much time in houses).
- Dr. Elise