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Making the Most of Induction Week

The first few weeks of your PhD are an incredibly exciting time. You are full of enthusiasm about your research topic, eager to get stuck in and looking forward to the next few years. But it can also be a period of confusion, as you adjust to a new role, a new supervisory team, and in some cases, an entirely new city. Induction Week is here to introduce you to the University whilst allowing you to meet your peers and some important members of staff who will guide you through your doctoral journey. New PGRs joining UofG this October will have received communications from their Graduate School and their School/Institute detailing the wide range of events and activities happening during Induction Week, but what should you do with all this information? Look no further- let’s break it down…

University Events

The team at Researcher Development coordinates a huge range of introductory talks and events during Induction Week for PGRs from all four Graduate Schools. These incredibly useful sessions will allow you to meet staff members from across the University who can support you at different stages of your research. Wondering which sessions are best to attend? I recommend Introduction to PGR Services - where you’ll be introduced to representatives from the Library, the Data Management Team, the Research Integrity Team, the Careers Service and more - and Researcher Development - an introductory session to the wide range of activities you complete alongside your PhD to enrich your skillset (such as training, public engagement, internships, teaching and mentoring).

There are also a number of Chat Cafés taking place throughout the week. These are informal, interactive discussion sessions led by an expert from one of the UofG services. Before the Chat Café you should work through the self-paced materials on the topic, and come with questions to ask and experiences to share. Chat Cafés are perfect for developing your skills and starting to think about some key aspects of doctoral research, such as Literature Reviews, Data Management, Thesis Construction and Careers.

But don’t think Induction Week should be all work! There are also a number of fun, social events, like our Campus Tours and Gilchrist Campus Meet Ups which you can join to meet PGRs from different research fields. Some additional dates have been released for these due to demand- but make sure to book quickly to avoid missing out. Additionally, if you find yourself gathering lots of questions during Induction Week, we’ve put together an expert panel of existing PhD researchers for Grill a PGR, a completely staff-free and judgement-free zone where you can ask all your burning questions.

For updates on University-wide events like these, follow @UofGPGRs on Twitter!

Graduate School Events

The most important event to attend across the whole week is your Graduate School Dean’s Welcome. The Welcome events will introduce you to all the Graduate School staff, who will in most cases be your first port of call for questions and issues in the future. My Dean’s Welcome back in 2019 was also incredibly inspiring because we got to hear from a range of recent graduates about their journeys. It’s also a great session for you to foster a sense of identity with likeminded researchers.

There will likely be other Graduate School-specific events taking place throughout the week which are always worth attending- you’ll meet others who are on the same PhD timeline as you, and these will become your biggest support and closest confidants in years to come (trust me!). Try not to be overwhelmed by the number of people at these types of events - October is always a popular time to start - but instead aim to chat to a handful of people. You never know who you’ll meet!

For updates on Graduate School events like these, follow @UofGSocSci, @UofGMVLSGradSch, @UofGArts and @UofGSciEngGrads on Twitter!

School/Institute Events

Your School/Institute and sometimes Research Group will often host their own welcome and social events during Induction Week. This is a great opportunity to connect with your cohort, if you didn’t meet them at the Graduate School events, and to be introduced to 2nd year+ researchers who will be able to help you navigate the first few months of your PhD. Join the relevant local mailing lists as soon as you can to ensure you receive updates about these events (and any in the future!). (As a side note, it’s worth familiarising yourself with these communications at the same time, to get up to speed with how things work at a local level!)

Induction Week is also a great time to schedule that first supervisory meeting, where you can meet your supervisor, think about your project scope and plan your time. To avoid this being too daunting, keep the discussion broad and think about the “big picture” of your research- this will help ground you and provide that extra bit of motivation to get started. I also suggest you use this opportunity to lay out the expectations you have of your supervisor, and any they have of you, to prevent miscommunication in the future. Your supervisor will also introduce you to other important members of staff (such as Technicians, Post-Docs and Research Associates), and guide you through any local processes, such as getting set up with IT.

My Top Tips:

  1. Attend a range of events to meet different people - you might be tempted to focus all your time on events at a School/Institute level, but look more broadly to embrace the diversity of PGRs at UofG!

  2. Make a note of names (and email addresses, if appropriate) of key staff contacts as you go - this list will be invaluable in 6 months’ time when you’re frantically trying to sort something.

  3. Balance your work time and social time - try not to get suffocated by too much heavy content in Week 1! Join a campus tour, attend a society event or tune in to a coffee morning to prevent yourself becoming overwhelmed.

  4. Allow yourself time to settle in - nobody expects you to know everything on the first day. Ask questions, make use of the University webpages and Moodle sites and ask existing PGRs for clarification if you need it.

  5. Have fun, and welcome to UofG!

This blog post was originally published on the UofG PGR Blog. You can read the original here.

Header photo from the University of Glasgow.

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