It looks as if I’ve managed to survive the first week of my PhD—or technically MPhil as that’s what I’m registered for. Most of my time has been spent doing admin work (making sure I’m in the right groups on the network, arranging regular meetings etc.), but I now have my own desk in the Human Centred Web Lab and my name is on the door. I’ve also been selected to be a lab demonstrator, which is good as it means more experience for my CV, more networking with academic staff outside my research group and some extra money at what is usually a fairly good rate of pay.
I’m not entirely sure what my PhD will involve yet though, despite having a topic title of ‘Automatically Identifying Social Change’, but I have gone through a few initial ideas with my supervisor and I’ve started getting in touch with people and organisations which will hopefully be able to help. The Faculty is forcing me to go to a two day training exercise at the start of next week, but hopefully once that is over and done with I’ll be able to start making some serious progress on my research. Also, my flat should hopefully be available by Monday or Tuesday, so I will be back in Manchester and able to cut my commute down from 90-120 minutes down to a more reasonable 30-45 minutes.
Also, I know it’s a long time off (unless the School doesn’t accept my transfer report at the end of this year, in which case it might be much sooner!), but I have started to wonder about what I want to do once I’ve completed my research and—hopefully!—got my PhD. I do like working in academia as it’s a very pleasant and relaxed environment (RAE deadlines excepted), but I’m not entirely comfortable with the direction in which the University is heading at the moment (massive job and budget cuts in order to finance capital expenditure). The careers service keep touting themselves as a service for postgraduates as well as undergraduates, but I’ve never had much success in getting the information or help I need from them or the events they run.
In other news, I went to the UKUUG AGM on Wednesday and ended up being elected onto the council, followed by an interesting talk from Michael Meeks about Linux on the Desktop. We ended up going for a meal afterwards, which is always a good way to get to know people, although never again am I staying in an easyHotel as my room was absolutely freezing cold due to cold air being blasted down into it. I’m looking forward to getting more involved with the group, though apparently I have already made a ‘contribution’ by dragging down the average age of council members by a few years at least. 🙂