Before Christmas I was lucky enough to complete a placement at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany as part of my PhD. Beyond the chance to test glühwein in multiple Bavarian Christmas markets, it was a great opportunity for my PhD and I thought I’d share just some of the benefits going on placement offers
- Career Prospects
Perhaps the most obvious benefit a placement has is on your career prospects. A carefully thought out placement can give you the chance to test out a particular career direction, experience what it is like to live abroad, work in industry, work in a different academic environment etc. In our global world, international experience is seen as very important, equally, demonstrating an ability to cross between academic and industrial environments is a highly employable quality. A placement also offers the opportunity to increase your network, which will almost definitely benefit your future career. There is truth to the saying ‘it’s who you know’.
Going on placement is a chance to break out of the PhD bubble. Time away can help show you that you are more than your PhD. How much does it matter that this one experiment didn’t work today? Why should you take reviewer 2’s comments personally? Even if you go to another research group to do similar work it becomes blindingly obvious that those problems with failing experiments and reviewer 2 are not something you experience alone.
- The people
Most people are incredibly welcoming to visiting PhD researchers. Take the opportunity to go for lunch with your colleagues, they will help make your time away much more enjoyable.
Doing something different, or just being in a different environment can go a long way to combating those infamous second year blues and give you some much needed motivation. Whether that is the motivation to continue with your research with renewed enthusiasm and knowledge, or the motivation to finish, or the motivation to continue onto the next stage in your career.
- Self Reflection
The break from the everyday grind of the PhD also gives you the chance to take a step back and ask the bigger questions. What do I enjoy doing? What can I see myself doing after I finish and where? After all, a PhD gives us far more than just an expertise on our thesis topic. It teaches us how collaborate, how to compete, how to deal with negativity, how to overcome uncertainty and much much more.
By Bethan Charles, Doctoral Welcome Team