My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

Courses Galore: UCL

As part of my studies and I required to take the equivalent of 20 credits (i.e. 10 half-day courses) per year. With the start of a new academic year comes the release of new courses, and with it an increase in the number of courses I have been attending. As with the NOISE workshops, I have not had time to write about them in detail one-by-one, but here is a brief run-through of what I have been doing, and why. I am now in what should be the final year of my PhD, so you can of course notice that I am taking a number of courses which focus on career and employment-related topics.

How to Engage with Businesses

The course is aimed at people who would like to start research collaborations with companies outside academia. Overall, this is not something which I am actively seeking at the moment. However, I appreciate that learning to speak the language of the non-academic world is a great skill to aim for. Before the course I considered myself to be not that good at this; during the course I confirmed to myself that I am not that good at it. However, the course gave me (and the other participants I am sure) a good basic framework to enter into these discussions with. In other ways, it gave me something to grasp on to in my incompetence and to structure the way I approach such meetings in a more fruitful manner. Also, it made me think about what companies are really looking for, which, considering I might get a job outside academia, is important to keep in mind!

Interview Techniques – with MatchTec

This was the first in a series of employer-led workshops offered in the skills development programme. MatchTec, which was the employer presenting at the workshop, is a technical and professional recruitment company, which places quite a number of PhD students. The recruiter presenting to us described what is expected in an interview, what an interview might consist of, as well as how to tackle questions. In particular she was quite good at identifying how skills we are gaining as part of our PhD can be translated into the skills required outside academia. Even though I have been to interviews before which I was often successful at, the course was still useful, and highlighted issues I might not have thought about that much which I should start doing.


I have been to other MATLAB courses before. However, as I haven’t really jumped in and started using it, I do not feel confident at using it. So far I have only attended the first in a series of lectures which will occur over the next few weeks. Although the course is aimed at neuroscience students, so far it has been quite general. The lecturer did seem to rush through things as though he needed to finish early (which he did!). For that reason I was glad that I have had some previous experience with the programme. However, otherwise, I found this lecture one of the better MATLAB lectures I have attended, so looking forward to the next ones!

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October 2010
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