Best of Viva Survivors 2018: Confidence

To finish 2018 I’m sharing my favourite posts from the last year. For the last day of 2018 I want to share a few posts about possibly the single most important topic there is around the viva: confidence. I’ve had this in my mind a lot for the last year, and it’s grown to be a central theme in the message I try to put across in my sessions. Here are five posts from the last twelve months that stand out to me.

  • The Knack – a story about confidence from my life, and one of the most personal posts I’ve written.
  • Mismatched – the difference between expectations and the reality of the viva.
  • The Magic Feather – where might you find your confidence?
  • Oppositeworld – a piece of thought-experiment fiction.
  • “There’s No Miracle People” – you can inspire your own confidence by looking at how you got this far.

If your viva is coming up think about what your confidence levels are like. Confidence doesn’t mean you’re not nervous. Make sure you have realistic expectations, and think about everything you’ve done to get this far. Given every challenge you’ve faced, what’s one more conversation?

It’s been great to finish 2018 by sharing some of my favourite posts! Let me know which resonated with you, and do share posts with anyone who might need them.

Come back tomorrow for the start of another year of daily blog posts about the viva! 🙂

How Did You Get Here?

Recently, I was very happy to be invited to contribute my career story to the Sheffield v i s t a blog.

I like to reflect, and summarising ten years of work in a thousand words was an interesting challenge. It gave me a lot to think about: “How did this happen? How did I end up doing this?” The post for v i s t a was a really useful exercise for me, and I hope it’s interesting and useful for lots of other people who might read it too. Do drop me an email if you have any follow-up questions!

It reminded me of a quote I’ve shared on the blog before: “The man on the top of the mountain didn’t fall there.

If you’re coming to the end of your PhD, take a moment to look back.

Figure out how you got to where you are now. It didn’t happen by chance.

You’ve only got where you are by being good at what you do. You can keep doing that in the viva.

Find Your Firsts

Build your confidence by identifying your achievements from your PhD. There’s more than just your thesis. Reflect on the first time you…

  • …gave a seminar in your department. When was it? What did you talk about?
  • …delivered a talk at a conference talk. Where was it? How did it go?
  • …wrote the first draft of a chapter. What feedback did you get? What did you learn?
  • …networked. Who did you meet? What did you share?
  • …realised you were going to finish. When was it? What prompted that thought?

Find your firsts: these are key moments in your PhD. They plot out a fantastic journey that’s brought you to today.