Viva Survivor, Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, nervous, optimistic, uncertain but happy-to-help, I stood in front of a room of PGRs in Manchester and said, “Erm, hi, I’m Nathan, and today I want to help you explore getting ready for your viva…” I had no plans to do another one! Halfway through the session a colleague from the university said, “Oh, there was a big waiting list – when can you do another?”

I did a few for Manchester that year, then a few more the year after. Another university asked me to do one. Then a few more. All word of mouth. I started Viva Survivors as a podcast in 2012 so I could share stories and learn more for myself; I used the site as a platform to research and learn even more. More universities asked me to help. Then more!

In 2010 I did the session three or four times I think. In 2019 it was over fifty times!!!

The Viva Survivors blog has become a place for me to experiment, to share, to test ideas and refine how I express them. There’s been a lovely symbiosis between the blog and the Viva Survivor session. A question in a session becomes a new line of thinking for the blog; a neat idea on the blog becomes a cornerstone in the session.

On July 21st 2010 I was thinking, “Oh gosh, please let this go well, I hope this works, I hope people get what they need, phew this will help to pay for my wedding…” Today I’m thinking, “That went by fast! OK, how can I help candidates get what they need for their viva?”

(And, “Oh wow, it’s my tenth wedding anniversary in a few months!”)

If I’ve met you on the journey so far, thank you. Thank you to the nearly-5000 candidates I’ve met at a Viva Survivor session. Thank you to all the readers of the blog, to all the amazing people who shared their story on the podcast and to everyone who has helped me share this blog over the years.