My induction was a nice introduction (an induction, if you will) to the ways in which doing your PhD part-time can make you feel a little on the outside looking in. The registration date had been given to me months in advance but only a short amount of time before I started I received information about my induction, which was three whole days! As someone who is working full-time alongside my studies, this was a lot of time to take off at short notice. In the end, I got in touch with the faculty head of postgraduate studies and decided to only attend two out of three of the days.
The two days, as with most starting a new course things, were mostly beneficial for meeting new people (hi Rhy and Jake!). There were some nice talks given that gave you an idea of what your PhD would involve, what kind of dynamic you might expect between you and your supervisor, and the kind of personal and professional development (PPD) opportunities you can take advantage of on top of your research project. It was also great to hear about everyone else’s projects. It was quite refreshing to hear that people at a variety of different stages in their life had chosen to dedicate a significant block of time to studying something they felt passionate about.
As one of only a few part-time students, it was clear that my PhD experience was going to be different to most of my colleagues. Where they could begin teacher training and attend any of the PPD modules they wanted, I would be taking advantage of the few online evening classes on offer; while they decided whether to take a desk on campus, I was investing in a good quality chair for all my evenings and weekends spent at my desk at home. I’m lucky in that, as a humanities student, most of my research can be done from my flat. I can imagine that part-time study is pretty much impossible in many other disciplines.
The induction made it clear that everyone’s PhD experience will be different, but that you can shape it to fit you and your lifestyle. This has been key for me. In the world of academia, where you can feel a lot of pressure to mould yourself to fit your study, it’s important to remember that this is your project and you need to make it work for you too.