Ways Student can actively be engaged in Independent Projects while studying in University

There is nothing called failure in Student Life. It`s all learning and improvising.

Every student has some dream of either becoming a scientist, an athlete or an actor. The internet is really divided into extremes and has content either for elite university students or entrepreneurs who are drop out from the top-notch university. But I do not belong to neither of them. Therefore, I started this blog for students from developing countries or students with low resources or opportunities. The only prerequisite is that you have to start the process of executing as early possible. Let’s say that you start in your high school or first year of undergraduate school.

If you are interested in getting to know about my journey of studying and working in different countries as a Ph.D. student with scholarships. You can check my blog here- 

How to win Scholarships?

Is it your 50th or 100th project that you have actually tried and have failed to execute? It is the hardest part of the progress. But you got to realize that you had the strength and patience to try at least 20,50 100 projects. Both numbers and results do not matter while you are trying and learning different ideas. But the speed of your executing definitely matters as it defines that you are actually thinking and creating ideas to execute your idea either you are contacting the collaborator, shooting a video for your academic or fitness project, writing an in-depth blog or ebook.

Time management and information about working hours is quite subjective which keeps changing as per the demands of your activities and lifestyle. I usually don’t understand the concept of time management for the student who is engaged in so many things. But there is one thing that a student can control and distribute its energy to specific activities which are utmost important.

Channeling all your energy to the important actions or events of your day will increase your productivity with ease, time and happiness. This can be done by organizing your mind with the idea of the amount of energy you have in you to utilize it with a focus on completing certain duties with complete attention.  This idea of energy management will grow into awareness with the practice of utilizing your energy precisely.

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I am referring everything to the energy because I am pretty sure you have heard these sentences –

I am in a relaxed mood

I am tired

I am quite energetic and so on.

If you can understand these moods and energy to channel it towards related productive activities, it will automatically grow in different directions with the consistent and solid grind. The application of energy management in your daily life also enhances your strength to accept the changes.

The uncommon and unique trajectory of a student with precise utilization of your energy will indeed shape your energy investment into some unique product in terms of personal and professional development.

But students focus on time management which leads to so many ugly stories of students. There cannot be more ugly and terrible news that rate of depression, suicides, and emotional disorders have increased tremendously across the globe.

Ideas to manage and invest your energy as a Student

Enter and choose the field where you like to devote completely. In some or most cases, you cannot choose the field because of one or the other reason. I can understand but in that situation, choose that as your sub-field and work on it religiously. Invest good quality of your energy in the project either fitness or writing.  There is no one systematic way of learning a subject and field that you enjoy. If you are really passionate and devotional about the project, you will figure out the ways to invest your energy and find and unlock new strategies to learn anything.

Did you ever notice your performance during the peak hours or during the high rush of the deadline approaching? It is indeed fantastic how so many students can outperform themselves and achieve incredible results.

Do not establish a routine

It creates unnecessary resistance and limitations to stay within the time frame. Instead, if you are really enjoying the process of your work, there is no way that you will be bound to time. Enjoying the process pumps you to do an extra pushup, run a mile longer even if you are exhausted. The enjoyment in the work will kick you in without breaking any mind and time barriers. Enjoying the process and channeling your energy towards the work that you like the most will produce more work than you are supposed to do in a timeline.

There are always a few things like writing, communicating your project or handling administrative work in your project that you might not like. Notice these things carefully and never put this off until the last minute as nobody is going to come for you.

If you are a student and if you want to do your dream project, you will have to do everything on your own in the beginning stages. 

The idea of shifting and delaying to learn the difficult tasks needed for your project will not work. Try to avoid using the famous line “I work effectively under pressure”. It`s fine as it’s your genuine way of working.

But one only reach the spot of working under the pressure with consistent delaying and procrastinating about million other micro things which do not matter.

Eliminating the distractions in your School and University time period is of the essential elements for your project to flourish at a high rate. Everyone has different distractions but the most common will stealing minutes in between your work to watch a youtube video, communicating with your friends about useless and micro things. This is you investing your finite energy towards distractions which will ultimately kill your motivation to execute and finish the tasks of the day.

Engaging with social and cultural groups

This one is not easy to understand and explain when you are in your High school and undergraduate. Interactions and communications in these groups happen at a different level in an interdisciplinary approach. Social and cultural groups which are distributed uniformly and connects every single entity of the system or any organization that you are linked with.  These social and cultural groups will have common platforms in the University and digitally where they will gather for meetings.

Contribute to these platforms

Find an International Societies and nonprofit organization

The advanced members in these societies have already developed a sense of leadership and management skills which comes with experience. It is a strategic decision to work on these skills if you are not a born leader/manager. These international societies are usually advised by senior researchers or leaders who have links around other international societies and can put you in the related networks which will help you push your career.

How to engage in International Societies or nonprofit organization?

The best way is to join and volunteer for the organization. Once you have entered the place, interact with people from a different domain, create online projects, create content and fundraising events for them.

These strategies will help you understand the fundamentals of networking which can you use all your life. If you want to enhance your networking-

Follow these steps

  • Interact consistently with all the members in the societies or groups
  • Offer your services within or outside the system for free. It will act as a catalyst for your future ventures
  • Be humble and share opportunities with students who don`t know new things.

It will always be WIN- WIN for you 

 

 

 

The importance of attending subject-specific workshops or conferences

I have already mentioned the importance of national and international symposiums and seminars that bring people from a different background that share similar objectives and challenges in solving the common problems.

Importance of Workshops, Symposiums and networking events in Graduate Student Life?

Let us focus on the importance of subject-specific or small scale workshops which brings in a number of people working on a rising or new subject in an interdisciplinary approach.  At the beginning of something new, it always starts with a small scale workshop which a student can only identify if he is consistent and up to date in terms of information and activities happening both online and offline about the subject area.

Attending small workshops or subject-oriented programs defines your maturity level to understand the subject in detail. This is one of the major shift that can happen in your student life either academic or non-academic. I always bring a small note about the Internet which has created a huge change in every single individual life either in the commerce sector, fitness sector and it is already bringing a big change in the student or independent academic researcher life.

Through small scale workshops, a lot of conversations and ideas can happen around the meetings. The primary aim of the small workshops or subject-oriented workshop is to derive the maximum benefit from the debate and discussions on the subject to find the directed solutions and new insights. The workshop theme usually solves the same problem in different geographical communities.

My supervisor in Spain was quite an active and smooth operative person who helped me out in all the paperwork while I was completing my administrative work in Portugal to get the work permit of Spain. In the meantime, she also created a space for me in an International Workshop in Croatia even before I got officially enrolled in the program. This workshop was the part of the massive program related to European rivers and water-related issues which helped me a lot to prepare myself mentally.

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Pic- DNAqua-Net, EU Cost Action

I arrived in Croatia in the month of November, and it was freezing out there. I had the brief idea about workshop theme and I was incredibly happy and overwhelmed because of the countries and new experiences.

Well,

Most of us are aware that we are living in a world of supercomputers and artificial intelligence, but I was not conscious about it until I attended the workshop about metabarcoding and diatoms. It was the moment I realized that artificial intelligence and computers are indeed hitting all the subjects equally. Moreover, this workshop introduced me to questions like the use of algorithms and machine learning to study biological data and biodiversity of microbes. Supercomputers, biological barcodes, and algorithms are the biggest biological shift we will ever live in the society. It has become practical and efficient to change the fundamentals of everything in the ecosystem. The combined technology of barcoding and supercomputers can tag every single microbe and living life on the planet earth. But for the moment, this program was focused on just DIATOMS and RIVER ECOLOGY.

Many researchers and Ph.D. students came across all Europe who were presenting their progress in the use of powerful computers and algorithms to treat biological data. It was not new, but the speed of growth in this field was astonishing because of fast development in computer processing power.   It is not so simple, but various researchers have identified the problems and the plausible computerized solutions which are way cheaper and faster than traditional methods to study the ecology of rivers.

It is not that these computers will replace all the bioscience research but can speed up the specific process such as classification of species or genes using defined algorithms.

Now here is when I learned a valuable lesson, I noticed that there were nearly 10 Ph.D. students are trying to mimic the use of a microscope. Further, when I explored this subject genuinely made me realized it could make the freelance Research possible with an economic upside for Ph.D. researchers especially that who enjoy algorithms and tech-based work. It will be beneficial to the biology students to learn or expose themselves to algorithms and a coding language.

In the workshop, there were people from the laboratory in France where I had to visit for the training and understand the new technologies that they have been implementing in studying the ecology of rivers. So, my supervisor introduced me to all of them.

Within the span of 2 days of this workshop, there was a macro change in my perspective and strategy towards science and life. Taking a step, attending a small scale workshop can load with information which indeed takes some time to out the knowledge in use in real time will be a serious help. I think the small scale workshops have the power to fill up the missing information and understand the evolution of the subject from others perspective as well. And, I have never been so grateful after meeting incredible researchers and students around the world.

Workshops are the best annual meetings designed to facilitate the interaction between supervisors and students to enable future collaborations between different groups in the same sector. It will give the strong foundation that has huge upside at all levels.

 

 

Digital- Freelance Researchers?

Researchers and PhD students should take the benefit of new emerging digital market which is also inclined with commercial perks at independent level. You have something more to take and play individually without being in the system.

Its not even about discussion anymore “if the digital education is future” because it has already become a established industry which is going to become giant or it will be  EVERYTHING in  future. Even the traditional education industry is moving slowly to provide there education services on digital platforms like COURSERA and it will be wise enough for all the professors and young aspiring researchers to shift to digital platforms to become a freelance researcher and consultant to private institutes and laboratories. It will open the doors for every single stakeholder to collaborate and do something more with people all around the world as it does not require any real presence which saves a lot of resources and need of infrastructure for everyone.

Digital PhD students can also raise funding for there ideas and projects through donors, investors and even  citizens you are genuinely interested in that project. Not just investment, digital presence can also help you to collaborate with other PhD students conveniently- Digital Researchers and there presence in internet is going to be a one big Digital Research Institute.

Did you notice that there is constant rise in various start ups in different domains and aspects of biotechnology such as bioenergy, compounds and diseases. All these start up provide different services and they would appreciate the digital researcher input in collaborating and creating useful research based content for these start ups.

Digital world has changed the concept of work and management literally in all sectors. The change in various technologies in the area of biology that produces a large amount of data to be treated using coding platforms (R or Python) opens the new field for biologist to collaborate with coding people.

 

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What are the perks of being a Digital Researcher?

  1. You can work from anywhere around the world and conduct your own research, initially you will have to start with the limited resources you have i.e, Internet and millions of gigabyte of data available in google but gradually you can generate  grants.  PhD students need to understand there importance and need of joining the digital world and start managing the content in the internet that is available for free.
  2. You can design your class as you want- You have complete freedom to present and edit your content the way you want. There is no time restriction or timeline. Once you have created (which can be edited anytime), it is created for forever. You don`t have to spend energy to create and present the same data repeatedly.
  3. You can have million students- Yes, its true that you can teach more than million and even billion students at a time through digital platforms.  You will never be able to achieve this milestone, by being a professor in a University or Institute.

 

Traditional Education will not die just like RADIO and TELEVISION but DIGTAL EDUCATION will rise and outshine the traditional education system.

Its the Future 

 

PhD Students- Do you have your DIGITAL CV?

Do you have your Digital CV? Do you update your social profile regularly? Do you create online projects and share it on internet? It does not matter if you like it or not but things are changing and in next 5 years all the PhD and research students globally will have a digital CV. But why do you even want to wait? How do you feel when you are thinking of an idea or an experiment and the next day you notice that it has been published? This will be the exact feeling after 5 years if you have not created your digital profile now. And I am not just referring to Doctorate students but it will be really useful for graduates and undergraduate students who want to apply for internships or short fellowship programs. There are unlimited free tools available in the market that does not need any coding skills to create Digital CV aka website.

If you are looking for a research position, internship or collaboration – create a digital cv which showcase your creativity and potential to present things in a different style. More and more researchers are updating there digital profile be it linkedin, websites, blogs or facebook page to recruit and check the profile of the students. It gives them the idea to see if you have a communicative, behavioral or technical skills which are of utmost importance now and in future. You got to understand that as most of the Phd students and researchers lack these important skills.

Resumes in word format are so lame that researcher/recruiter will have to read every single word to make a decision. But a digital CV is more interactive, detailed which can be useful for the recruiter to make the final call. Digital CV also gives you an opportunity to create things in forms of videos and pictures and represent yourself in the best possible way to stay ahead in the game. Digital CV will showcase your talent or your adaptability strength to changing technology.

 

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This digital CV officially brings you in the business and let you connect with researchers and collaborators globally but a random digital CV is not a quick fix. As digital CV is your product and your identity, so you have to make sure that you are representing yourself perfectly.

There are couple of service providers that will let you build the website on sub-domain along with free features which is good enough to start. In just some time, you will get comfortable to move ahead with next step that is to buy domain representing you and your product which you want to show and sell. And make sure that you are true with your website as employers are going to look carefully to all the links and videos that you share in your digital profile.  The other important that you can do to back up your profile and work is ask your colleagues or mentors to post a recommendation letter in your website.

Its understandable that its near to impossible to find time to update social media profiles or blog when you are busy with your research work and completing tasks given by the supervisor. But in today`s fast changing digital world, the first thing your future employer or partner is going to do is-

GOOGLE YOUR NAME”. 

Are you ready to create some MAGIC 😉

 

 

Students- It`s time for you to make your Science or Business Blog

My fellow researchers and explorers, I am trying to bring your attention towards the biggest platform in front of you- INTERNET. It`s going to be bigger than the journals and your publications in non-reputed journals. I am not saying that it will beat the big journals, but it will help you to build your scientific profile for future scholarship competitions or apply for grants.

It is complete wastage of time and money to publish papers in non-reputed journals that publishes your paper in just 3 days with some money. Does it really make sense? Do you think that these publications will make your profile better than other candidates? I have never met any PhD candidate in Europe or around the world who has publications in these journals. Even if they have, they have improvised with time and learned to publish papers in good journals which take time and real work. But these non-reputed journals who publish paper just in 3 days with little money makes you believe that you have a publication which will just give you false sense of satisfaction. I made the same mistake when I was in 1st and 2nd year of my undergraduate school.

But I learned slowly and gradually by working in different laboratories and what do scientists look in there future PhD students. Surely, they give proper recognition to your experience and published work. But the most important thing they look at is POTENTIAL. How are you going to show this potential? It is confusing for anyone to note the potential in just 30 minutes of skype interview which is competitive as other candidates are also prepared and optimistic for the PhD competition. Isn`t? Even if you have worked really hard and preparing yourself for 3-4 years to compete PhD scholarships. How will you make sure that you are maximizing your impact in that 30 minutes of interview?

If you are taking shortcuts by publishing papers in non-reputed journals, these publications are not helping your profile even 1% in winning the competitive PhD scholarships. Do you think that you are the only one with publication in non-reputed journal? Do you think that the other candidates are not working hard or collaborating with other students to publish paper in better journals?

Looking at the today`s scenario of the PhD world, it has become a market place which needs to be understood properly by aspiring PhD students. As most of the institute as working in collaboration with industries to pursue the industrial interest. So, how can you make our profile interesting for the both industries and academics?

The one of the best way to show your potential and real interest is building up something from the scratch using digital platforms. There will be many students who do not have the equal opportunities to work in well-established laboratories and cannot produce good research publications. But this should not stop you from doing and creating your own online journal. Does this make sense? Scientist and institutes who are hiring or selecting candidates will go through profile carefully and will not miss anything that you have mentioned in your CV. So, if you have produced an online journal conducting your own research, review and discussion from the scratch. It will clearly present the candidate as the potential researcher. But this process is long and requires real determination which will only bring fruitful results if you put in your time and work.

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Moreover, it will also help you to figure out your research interest in detail if you are really interested in the subject which you can always update, link and connect your research ideas, hypothesis with other researchers around the world. The best time to build you digital profile or science blog is in early undergraduate years or even at high school.

Why? Because, you have no idea about what you really like and what are you going to create. Initially, it wont look like the way you think. It won`t be your best craft but guys you can not understand the consumer behavior by writing just 20 blogs. But with time, you will be able to figure it out and craft it the way you want and that is the real research – your research. Just be brave and share your craziest thought process in words, videos and pictures through digital platforms. There are 4 billion people on internet who are ready to give you there attention. And in todays world, it`s really hard to find attention guys.

There is strong chance of you thinking that if you are putting up the ideas online, there is a chance that anyone can steal it. Everyone has ideas but the main key is the execution. And to convert the idea into an product requires consistent efforts of years not months.

Digital media and research based content creation is the key for future PhD students to become independent or freelance researchers and directly form network with industries or academics

Find your PhD- Best websites and quotes

PhD is the garden of the questions. If you keep your mind and heart open, you will able to find all the answers to all the mysteries. Although a PhD student search for the universe, just to find his own. His soul always search for wisdom rather than the publications. Please bring in the magic back in PhD. Here is my contribution to help my fellow colleagues to search there PhD and lab partners.

https://www.findaphd.com/

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https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/

 

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https://www.nature.com/naturejobs/science/jobs

 

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https://jobs.sciencecareers.org/

 

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https://www.wemakescholars.com/

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https://www.eurosciencejobs.com/

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https://www.daad.de/deutschland/promotion/en/

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https://www.seek.co.nz/PHD-jobs

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https://scholarshipdb.net/

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https://www.phdportal.com/

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https://www.universityvacancies.com/

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https://www.glassdoor.com/

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https://academicpositions.com/

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How to get PhD when you are not from Top Tier University?

Do you know that your academics or your grade or marks only counts for 10 to 15% in the overall PhD selection process? There are millions of students who score B grade or 60% but are passionate about scientific research and wants to pursue PhD. But most of them think that getting the high score is the only criteria to secure a PhD position in abroad. But let me tell you one thing, that your University name and your score only account for 10-20 percent of the overall selection process. And it does not mean that you will loose all these points if you have 2nd division.  For ex : Selection process involves these main factors as the criteria.

  1. Academic Score (10-20 points)- You will get 20 points if you have A or A+grade, 18 if you have B+ and 15 if you have B. So even if you have B grade, you will still get 15 points and rest it depends on how you make the best of your other 80 points.
  2. Skill set (30-40 points)- It is one of the most important criteria for the selection process and you will realize it when you will start interviewing for the PhD or research positions. As the selection committee will ask you the skills set you have related to the project. If you have 80% of the skill set related to project, your chances of winning the PhD position increases.
  3. Publications/ Research Experience (30-40 points)- Most of the Indian Private Universities does not focus on this part of the system with sincerity at all. They have made the complete mess and are making the business out of it by opening the private research institutes that offers your internships without any real exposure to research work. I have seen most of the students during there junior or sophomore year of college pursuing there internships from private institutes that charge you INR 6000 for the 8-10 weeks of project and also provide you the research project. This is one of the big reason and serious concern that many of us looses the interest in science at early stages.

You have to remember that it the investment of time and hard work that you will put in your graduation time to get your desired PhD. Utilize your summer vacation and internships effectively and make networks with PhD students and scientist all over India. I am aware that securing the PhD in a good institute is not easy but I am also aware that many of us looses hope easily. Sometimes, it takes 2 or 3 years of constant effort and convincing the scientist with whom you want to work for the summer internship. Try to identify your broad research interest during your sophomore or junior undergraduate year and list all the research institutes and scientist where you are planning to work. Prepare your draft email clearly mentioning your research interest and skills you would like to learn. It will be good if you mention little bit about future ambitions but its not so important if you are in 1st or 2nd year as you are just starting your research journey. Remember, its a journey a a long journey. And you are going to fail and get 1000s of rejections. Just prepare yourself mentally and note the points why are you getting these rejections. It is really important to analyse the reasons of your rejections at all the levels of your research journey. This happen even to the big scientist all around the world. No big deal. These words will keep you on the move always. Remind yourself with these words.

 

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The goal during your graduate years should be to maximize the results coming out of your research internships even if it takes to miss couple of classes and loose few marks in your attendance or assignments as it wont mean anything for long term goals. Trust me. The other important skill is scientific writing which will only improve if you practice writing.

The best way is to start writing reviews on the topic you like the most or you would like to explore. 

And if you are working on the above mentioned skills, you are automatically working in your public relations with researchers and graduate students in the laboratory who will definitely help you out to achieve the things you want to. Good public relation means good recommendation letters (10-20 points) which is another criteria for winning the PhD position. A publication in peer reviewed journal will be cherry on the cake but there is no guarantee that you will be able to publish a good research paper while working in the internships or dissertation but there is 100% guarantee that your profile will become solid proof which will show your potential clearly to the selection committee.

What about the extracurricular activities?  What kind of activities will describe you as a leader or a team worker? Try to incorporate yourself with social and community activities that are bringing the change in the human welfare. But not just for the certificate. Because, if you are working for the certificate and recognition, you will never be able to understand the problem at grass-root level. Try to collaborate with someone working in different subject or theme and work in an interdisciplinary topic like women empowerment, sustainable solutions, water management. I am not talking about starting a rally against the government, it`s the solution that you will propose to the community which has the potential to bring the change.