October 8, 2018, by Lisa Chin

SWIRL – So What’s It Really Like?

We had organised another round of SWIRL (So What’s It Really Like?) session on 1 October 2018 as part of the Postgraduate Welcome Programme. The informal sharing session and forum was aimed for new postgraduate students to find out about life at the University of Nottingham Malaysia from a panel of three senior postgraduate students. The session was moderated by Dr Jiin Woei Lee, Research Training Development Manager.

Experience Sharing

The session began with an introduction and experience sharing by Olaoluwa Duro-Bello (fondly known as Ola), a 3rd year PhD student at the School of English. Ola is the current Students’ Association (SA) Postgraduate Officer who leads the Postgraduate Students’ Network (PGSN) whose tenure will end in November when a new elected person takes over the position. Some of the key advice that Ola shared during the session were:

  • Plan and structure your PhD journey.
  • Maximise your time in the 1st year to read as much as you can, establish rapport and network as well as attend Graduate School training courses.
  • Go to supervision meetings with an agenda and write meeting minutes in detail, with accuracy.

Next was an introduction and experience sharing by Lillian JA Olule, a 4th year PhD student at the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering. Based on her own personal experiences, Lillian shared how she overcame financial challenges when she accepted the Dean’s Scholarship for Research Excellence without stipend. She also shared the following advice that she thought would be beneficial for the new students to know at their early stage of PhD studies:

  • Do an extensive literature review in your 1st year (this really does help you with your thesis writing!).
  • Learn to manage the relationship with your supervisor(s).
  • Publish your work but don’t succumb to the pressure of it.
  • Participate in competitions (you’ll never know what winnings and opportunities you’ll get!).
  • Get professional memberships and be involved with other things besides your PhD studies.

Last but no least, an introduction and experience sharing by Shi Ting Lee, a 4th year PhD student at the School of Pharmacy.  Shi Ting shared the motivation behind her winning of Sparrho Early Career Researcher Prize which landed her the opportunity to attend an international conference in Japan last August. Some of the key advice that she shared during the session were:

  • Find ways to effectively manage the relationship with your supervisor(s).
  • Participate in competitions (not just the internal ones, but also the external too!).
  • Find and pursue a hobby that you like.

Forum Discussion – Q&A

Some of the questions asked during the session were listed below, together with the responses by the panel.

What are the things that you wish you knew earlier?

  • Printing credits for PhD students.
  • Access to conference and resource fundings.
  • Inter-library Loan (ILL).

How do you balance parenting and PhD? 

  • 3 words – prioritise, timetable & discipline.
  • Have a support structure.

We would like to take this opportunity to once again thank Ola, Lillian and Shi Ting for taking the time off their hectic schedule to come for the session. We hope that the session was useful in getting the insights of what’s it really like being a postgraduate student of the University.

So what’s it really like, now that you’re here? Write to us, we would like to hear from you!

SWIRL session is one of the featured programmes in our annual welcome event for postgraduate students. Session like this is meant to share information and increase knowledge, as well as establish rapport and subsequently foster connections between postgraduate students across all three faculties.

For any queries, please email us at graduateschool@nottingham.edu.my.

Posted in News and EventsPostgraduate lifeResearcher Development