'Life Beyond the PhD' and creative networking

Posted on: 28 September 2017 by Emma Dewhirst in 2017 posts

Creative networking

Emma is currently researching a PhD on "The Roots of Radicalism: Networks, Organisation, and the Irish Revolution, 1913-1919” with us. Here, she is blogging about her experiences as a distance learner.

As a distance learner at the Institute of Irish Studies, I am always on the look-out for ways that I can be engaged with postgraduate life.  Workshops hosted by the Liverpool Doctoral College emphasize the importance of networking to a successful academic career. 

I spend most of my time away from the university; how could I meet more people, and increase my chances in the job market?

The Liverpool Doctoral College advertised a competition for a fully-funded place at a conference, 'Life Beyond the PhD', hosted by the educational charity, Cumberland Lodge, a stunning seventeenth-century house in the Great Park, Windsor.  I applied, was delighted to win a place, and attended the conference over four days this summer. 

I met forty other PhD students, all at different stages of their research.  We were able to talk candidly about our challenges and successes through workshops and group projects.  Lectures by early career researches who have been successful in the job market gave us fresh and practical advice about laying the groundwork for our careers early in the PhD. 

Some of the most practical advice was how to build an effective CV and how to present our research.  What are the 10 most irritating mistakes on a CV?  (Forgetting to spell-check is Public Enemy Number 1.)    What makes a good cover letter?  Think like a STARR: Situation, Task, Action, Result, Reflection. 

In addition to these practical tips, the conference made me confront a much bigger question: How accessible is my research to other disciplines?  Networking with forty non-specialists over four days was an intense training exercise in how to communicate my research in non-specialist language without diluting its importance.

Heading into the second year of my PhD, I’m no longer intimidated by the challenges of distance-learning, and I have the confidence to be creative, powerful, and effective, wherever I happen to be.

Find out more

Find out more about our Irish Studies PhD and our current PhD topics