A STAR For Confidence

A great way to build your confidence before the viva is to find stories from your PhD to inspire you. I’ve mentioned finding STAR stories in the past to point to specific skills or parts of your work, but the same four-point structure can help to build stories of talent generally.

Try using this process to find stories that help you. Answer the following four questions in success:

  • Situation: Find a situation or project that was challenging. How did it stretch you?
  • Task: Detail what exactly you had to accomplish. What were the specifics?
  • Actions: Lay out the sequence of steps you followed. How did you try to solve the problem?
  • Results: Clearly state the outcome. What happened in the end?

How you think about your PhD and your talent is a story. If you need to, find a new story, or several! Find stories that boost your confidence and lay out how you got your research done.

Being a STAR

Long time readers will know I like acronyms. STAR is another good one. It’s typically used by people applying for jobs. STAR lets you frame and tell a story that demonstrates your skills:

  • Situation: where does this story take place, what’s the context?
  • Task: what were you asked to do?
  • Actions: what approach did you take to tackle the task?
  • Results: what happened, how successful were you?

This sequence can create a story to convince someone you’re good at something. Whether you apply for a job, pitch some work or are networking, STAR can help you show you’re the right person.

Your viva is coming up. It’s not a job interview, but STAR can still help you to frame the story you tell about your research:

  • Situation: why was the area something you wanted to research?
  • Task: what were you trying to contribute to your field?
  • Actions: how did you do your research?
  • Results: what did you find and what does it mean?

STAR is a valuable tool: good for telling stories to others, for framing your research and for reminding you just how good you are.