The first few weeks of a PhD are all about getting your bearings, even if you’ve stayed on at your undergraduate/postgraduate taught institution. This being so, I’ve decided to dedicate this month’s post to ideas for settling into PhD life. In order to settle in, I would suggest that you:
Get Acquainted with your Supervisor
Perhaps the most important person to help you settle in is your supervisor. At your first meeting, get to know as much as possible about how he or she works and negotiate how your relationship will function – will you send regular pieces of work, for instance, or just finished drafts? Even if you think you already know something of your supervisor’s practices, perhaps because you’ve stayed at the same institution and taken a class led by them previously, you likely won’t have worked as closely with them before so the issues mentioned still need to be addressed.
A key part of getting settled is finding out where everything you need is located. By the end of your first month, make sure you can find the library, office space, communal areas for postgraduate researchers, etc. Again, even if you’ve stayed at the same institution for your PhD, it’s likely that some of the facilities you’ll be using will be new to you so the same rules apply.
Consider your Training Needs
Start thinking about research training from the off. Fortunately, this is compulsory at most institutions. The workshops and classes you’re required to attend will likely provide some much needed structure to the first few weeks and months of your studies. This can help with feeling settled.
Research, Research, Research!
No matter what else is going on at the beginning of your PhD, don’t neglect your actual project. Starting to lay foundations for your work is massively important in helping you to adjust to and feel settled in your new role.
Hopefully, this has provided some helpful tips for settling into life as a PhD student. Please do comment if you would recommend anything else!