When I was in 7th grade, I was introduced to DNA and gene. I was fascinated by just those terms but wasn’t aware of what exactly they are. With time, I learned what is DNA and its importance and the subject of Genetics. Since I wanted to do a PhD in Genetics, I decided to do Bachelor in Genetics and Master’s in Biochemistry for better comprehension of the concepts. I heard from my seniors, doing summer internships and projects, learning new techniques, publishing papers and being the top student will fetch me Ph.D. easily.
I had a dream to pursue a PhD abroad and hence listening to my seniors, I started my journey in my bachelor’s degree. I was the 2nd topper in both bachelor’s and master’s and I did internships and learned new techniques. But did my efforts were fruitful immediately, No. Since, right after master’s, I didn’t get the Ph.D. position, I applied for the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for Ph.D. in India without any full preparation. And I couldn’t crack the CSIR entrance exam five times. In the meantime, I worked as Research Assistant for 3 years in the Centre for Human Genetics, Bangalore, India and Molecular Biotechnologist in Medical College at Wardha, India for a year. Basically, I got a PhD position after consistent four years of efforts.
Things to keep in mind:
- First and foremost, you should be clear Why you want to do Ph.D.? Is it because my classmates are doing, so I also want to do it? I just wanted to do a PhD in genetics, but I didn’t have my clear Why. I applied more than 5000 applications (Applied University Ph.D. programs+ Individual Ph.D. positions+ mailing to professors with similar research interests) in four years. I gave lots of PhD interviews, but I couldn’t crack them because I didn’t know what exactly I want from my PhD. Once I was clear why I want to do PhD and how that can help the society in the coming years, I could attract the desired PhD positions. And this time, I didn’t have to put much effort.
- Even if you face the rejections and fall flat on the face, don’t quit. I have gone through more than 5000 rejections, I cried, I vented my emotions and started freshly every time. I started to self-analyze my applications and make changes and apply again. I used to show my applications to my friends, seniors who were doing PhD abroad. Everything works out with consistent and persistent efforts.
- I would recommend enjoying the process instead of thinking only about the destination. I used to think that once I get into PhD, I will be happy, and all my dream will come true. But I forgot to enjoy the moment and the process of applications. Embrace the rejections and move forward.
- I would also recommend talking to your seniors, connect with people with whom you can vibe and take their suggestions. Learn from other people’s experiences and their mistakes. I thought I knew everything, and I repeated the same mistakes repeatedly thinking I would get different results. I realized later that following the paths of people who have already accomplished the results I wants, why not to take their help and learn from theirs and my mistakes.
- In interviews, be who you are. If you don’t know the questions, let them know that you don’t know, and you will read about it. Being authentic and honest is the key.
So, applying for PhD applications is like first understanding yourself, your research interest and why PhD is your dream and how will that impact to the society. Hence, starting with Why can lead you one step closer to your dream.
Good luck with your future endeavors!