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Did you figure out your WHY to pursue a PhD? If not, please read this blog about figuring out your WHY before reading any further: https://theiggroup.de/blog/Why-should-you-pursue-a-PhD-eXA9J I started my PhD applications in the last semester of my master's. The number of rejections made me realize that I didn’t prepare well for my PhD applications. Hence, I had to invest one more additional year in research training. Most of the time, the thought of walking on the path of PhD is planted in your masters. Then why not start preparing for your PhD right from your masters? Planning beforehand will save you a lot of time and frustration. Here are the three important things you can do in your masters to make your life less painful.- Try before you buy Going by the saying, before investing 3-4 years of your life getting a PhD, getting a hang of it earlier is never a bad idea. Spending more time in the sandbox will make up your mind and help you gain confidence. During your masters, you get buffer time for research experience which in turn gives you clarity over the decision of getting a PhD. Initially, you will be all excited to start your master's thesis, but working in the lab for 6-8 months straight will hardly keep you motivated. You will explore different traits in yourself such as how you like to plan your experiments? What are your favourite techniques? How do you react when the experiments fail? How do you troubleshoot your experiments? etc. Perhaps you may figure out that you are interested in an industrial job or teaching and wanna earn a real salary than living on stipends (for several years) after your master's. Or maybe you may notice that you are really passionate about science and want to continue research for your PhD. - Collect those valuable skills Masters is the time where you can fill your bag with soft as well as hard skills. Soft skills such as organization and time management will lay down the base for your PhD. When you take up research projects, you will have to hustle between your research as well as the curriculum and here is where organization skills play a huge role. This period will give you a chance to try out different planning methods and fix one system which works for you the best. Learning to program, writing scientifically or even researching a new method is never a bad idea. Take out some time and try to get these skills which will save ample amounts of time in your PhD. Having valuable skills on your CV will definitely push you up the ladder in the application process.- Choose your PhD topic You will study numerous subjects in your masters and in the meanwhile, you will figure out which subject you are passionate about. Choosing a PhD topic doesn’t mean figuring out exactly what you are going to work on but finding a general field. For example, I did my master's in biotechnology and I was interested in immunology. At the beginning of your PhD it is hard to decide the exact topic you are going to work on but you can find the area you want to contribute to. Hence, I would encourage you to explore the boundaries in the adjacent topics, go where your interest takes you in terms of taking classes and discovering research areas. You can also start reading articles and dig into the fields which you are really passionate about. This will help you in shortlisting the PhD positions to apply for and will save time as well. Apart from these three important aspects, you can also focus on getting to know the faculty of the university you are interested to get into for your PhD, getting good grades and starting preparing for the GRE if required. You can also be involved in extracurricular activities such as working or volunteering as a teaching assistant for the subject which interests you, writing for university newsletters or starting your own blog. This can make your PhD application stand out. A master’s degree isn’t just an eligibility criterion to fulfill for a PhD position but these two years can help you to get a taste of what it is like to be in a lab-based research full time. Don’t see masters as a waste of time but utilize it to gain valuable skills and become independent which will, in turn, boost your confidence and help you to choose the right PhD position!
It’s Shivalee here with the first blog on PhD as promised. Are you a master's student, or someone who is planning to pursue a PhD? Are you constantly checking open PhD positions, writing random emails to professors around the globe? I can totally relate to your anxiety because I was in the same situation five years back. But WHY to do a PhD? Lately, this is the most legitimate question asked to me. Most of the PhD students (including me) state PhD is a sleepless journey where your pockets will be empty half the time. And let’s avoid mentioning stress and imposter syndrome. Then WHY are you so passionate about having a PhD? Since I was a kid, I have been amused hearing stories about my grandfather, a highly intellectual and charismatic person. He was a PhD in animal husbandry from the University of Pennsylvania, USA and later he served as a dean at various agriculture universities in India. Once I came across a photograph of him sitting in front of a microscope in a white lab coat. 10-year-old me thought he was a doctor, but later my dad told me he was a scientist. I recalled this incident when my curiosity peaked high as I started my journey as a biotechnologist. I remember referring to my grandfather’s books and the feeling of connectivity made me sustain the journey. So, this is how my WHY paved my path to pursuing a PhD. Apart from personal reasons, there were several good and bad reasons to walk on this path. Let’s first summarize the bad reasons for WHY you want to do a PhD:- Having good grades Most of the students are with a misconception that having good grades is the foremost criteria to do a PhD. This surely can help you but the passion for the subject is needed for the long run- Hello Dr. Are you the one who wants to flaunt the title or earn respect from society? This will surely make a hype but will be gone at the snap of the finger. You will lack the commitment to survive academia- You are lost and don’t know what else to do! Well, you will one day finish your PhD and still face the same scenario. Hence, having a long term plan is what you need- You will earn a lot of money Let me bust this myth! Most of the PhDs are based on funding, which manages the utilities of the project as well as the salary. So, definitely, you will earn less than an industrial job. There can be valid reasons as well to pursue a PhD. Let me summarize a few:- Being passionate about your field This is a very important and foremost reason to start a PhD. Studying for a research degree is a multi-year time commitment. If you’re excited by the idea of spending a significant period of time dedicated to one subject, that’s a good sign you’re ready. Having the curiosity to discover new things in your respective field will keep you motivated. Your passion will drive you throughout your PhD- You love academic writing This is a great reason to get a PhD! If you are in academia then you probably have heard ‘Publish or perish’ where you have to write grants and publications. Even if you don’t publish you will definitely write your thesis. So if you love academic writing then you are a great fit to pursue a PhD- You want to become a science communicator or a professor If you are the one who wants a career in teaching or a tenure track professorship or want to become a science communicator, then you need a PhD. Having these end goals will keep you motivated and you will always see light at the end of the tunnel- You want to contribute to your field You will dive deep into key areas and challenges in your field, developing your theoretical approaches and applying them through your research. These learnings will give you tools to make meaningful contributions to specific research areas So, What’s your WHY to walk on this journey? Let us know in the comments!!!
Do you feel that you don’t have your dream job or an internship in a cool company or that awesome business that you wanted to start yet? If you answered YES, then you probably know that something is missing in your journey and you need to work on this. Have you ever thought about the most important thing that can take you closer to your dreams?? Keep reading so that you can learn more about this!! In today’s era, networking is happening is via LinkedIn. Let it be your job search, networking with peers, getting leads to grow your business or just creating your personal brand! Have you ever thought about what can make this a success?? A super awesome & most accurate LinkedIn profile in a professional context is the answer. Yes, LinkedIn is your gateway to getting that dream job that you always wanted. And for this to happen, your LinkedIn profile must fulfil these three characteristics: Searchable Clickable Approachable Searchable – It means when searching for the relevant keywords & location, your profile must be found on the very first page of LinkedIn search. (This is mostly used by recruiters when they are looking for a candidate for the job). Some tips which will make your LinkedIn profile more searchable: Your name, title, location & experience should be clearly mentioned & updated frequently You need to have the right set of keywords “About” section needs to be well thought & include the right keywords Clickable – When someone reads your profile, they shouldn’t just have a glance and leave. You need to make them curious & make them click on your profile. Some tips which will make your LinkedIn profile more attractive & clickable: Catchy LinkedIn Title: It’s the most important aspect of your LinkedIn because people’s eyes see them first. Many people make mistakes at this very major part. Don’t have a boring title (e.g. seeking opportunities in XYZ or open for opportunities etc.). The idea is to make it Creative (e.g. Want to solve exciting problems in XYZ company as so-n-so etc.). You get my point, right? Don’t have a boring title. Reinforce what the user is looking for Right Keywords: Pick the right keywords based on how people will be searching for you and this applies to your title, your description & your experience. If you want to know which keywords are most used for the job that you are looking for, just go to any desired job ad in your field & pick 4-5 keywords from them & include them Interesting Summary: In your description, write a good summary of your interests & skills which depict your professional personality. Also, don’t forget to include keywords mentioned earlier so that LinkedIn knows that this word is related to you & your field. Optimize your description for all the words you would want to rank yourself for & update your experience also by using those keywords Recommendations: Have recommendations or endorsements (top 3 skills) from others. It really helps people to know which skills you are well off in & many recruiters also look for it. Paint a clear picture of your skills. Have recommendations from your boss or colleagues Professional Headshot: No informal photos Background photo: The background photo/image is the most important factor (highest significance). Try & make it creative by writing your major qualities & fields you are working in. Use Canva for customizing this background image Featured Section: The featured section gets the most traffic (blog articles, LinkedIn posts etc.). Highlight your posts on your profile so that people visiting your profile do not feel that you are a dead user who doesn’t use LinkedIn Approachable: Be approachable by making it easier for others to send you connection requests. Write your contact number & email id in your description. Be open to messages & reply to them. Let us know how your LinkedIn experience has been after implementing the above three characteristics.
Are you not getting any interviews after enormous applications? Are you stuck in a vicious cycle of applications, rejections & dejections? Chances are that the reason behind your unsuccessful attempts is the amount of effort, the time you are investing in customizing & personalizing your documents based on the job description & requirements. Personalizing & customizing your application documents – CV & Cover Letter is essential for doing quality applications. This is the best way to enhance your chances of getting an interview, eventually your internship/job. Customization & Personalization requires immense effort & time in comparison to general common applications. This investment of effort & time is worth it because: - Your documents click with the reviewer immediately- The reviewer finds them interesting because there are relevant things in it- The reviewer sees your interest, passion & hard work behind your application Here are 4 ideas for customizing your application documents: Match Keywords from the job description Keyword matching is important to beat automated systems that filter applications before a human accesses them. This also helps to convince the reviewer as he easily finds the words that he is looking for while filtering applications. Keywords can be matched directly by using the exact words from the job description and indirectly by using other forms, expressions of the requirements from the job description. Use these tools to check your keyword match & improve accordingly: - https://skillsyncer.com/scans/sample- https://resumeworded.com/targeted-resume- https://www.jobalytics.co/Integrate hard skill requirements from the job description in the Experience, Education, Projects/Certifications/Skills section Hard skills are the skills that make up the core of any job description. These are the skills that a reviewer is eager to find in your documents. These skills have to be showcased effectively to a good extent to get an interview. Make sure that the bullets in your CV under the Experience, Education, Projects/Certifications/Skills section include these hard skills that the reviewer is looking for. Hard skills can be incorporated by exhibiting specific tasks you have done, the value you have created for your project/company, your learnings gained during education or via projects, certifications. Keep your bullets Specific, Quantifiable, Relevant & Value-adding for the reviewer while covering your hard skills. Integrate soft skill requirements from the job description in Extra-curricular or Achievements section Soft skills are equally important as hard skills because these skills differentiate people. They are more difficult to articulate & integrate in your documents. Achievements/Extra-curricular section should address a point, shouldn’t be included just for the sake of it. Showcase your communication, stakeholder management, leadership, proactive, relationship handling skills in these sections. Each job description has some soft skill requirements, so include only the relevant ones from a job profile perspective. Tweak your story in the cover letter by shifting focal points of your story based on requirements in the job description Your story in the cover letter is good in a situation only if it is relevant for the reviewer & awakens his interest in scrolling through your entire cover letter, eventually calling you for an interview. Each phase of your life is unique & interesting if you articulate it effectively. Reflect & build up your story in a generic manner for starters. Once you have your entire story on paper, pick & choose focal points from your story that are coherent with the job description or tweak your story accordingly. The focal points from your story can be discovered by drilling down into your life stations by asking How & Why questions. Don’t replicate bullets of your CV by making sentences out of them in the cover letter. It has to be a story covering different phases of your life. And these phases should be connected with the requirements in the job description for maximum impact.
STAR refers to Setting a situation (S), Describing your task (T), detailing your involvement & action (A) and explaining the results (R). Whenever there is a situational or behavioural question asked in your interview, structuring your answer using the STAR approach will help you communicate your thoughts concretely. Now, let us look at a few examples of situational or behavioural & situational interview questions for better understanding. Explain a situation where you made a mistake & how did you overcome the situation Give an example where you had to manage a project Explain a situation where you faced a failure & how did you overcome What will you do to get things done from a colleague who is not very supportive Explain a situation where you had to handle customer escalation A possible response (STAR Approach) for the first question can be as below, While I was working as a business analyst during my tenure at ABC company, it came to my attention that business understanding of a key metric was incorrectly captured by the development team. Since it was towards the end of the project, incorrect information would mean wrong results. After confronting the mistake, I further deep-dived on the metric & corrected the logic by taking support of the team. Furthermore, I had to take the support of management & appraise all the stakeholders about the project delay by 2 weeks. It was a good learning experience where I learned the importance of getting into the finer details & documenting the meeting discussions. Here, in the above example, you can clearly see that the situation is explained & the response is provided in detail for the user to understand. Following your response, the panel might ask you (if required) to further understand your thought process & experience. During an interview, it is quite natural to start speaking immediately once a question is asked. However, do make sure you understand the question & if it is a situational/behavioural question, remember STAR to make your life easier. Good luck! We have some exciting articles lined up. Do check out the same on our website.
This blog is about the 7 basic things to help students & professionals get through the job selection process. I work as an HR Business Partner at Amazon based in Frankfurt. I have been recruiting for a few years now and this blog is based upon my reflections during this time. Stay tuned for more blogs and webinars with me and the Reflections team where I would be sharing more tips with you in detail. Please look out for further updates on the Reflections website. Here are the 7 tips: Recruiters have around 7 to 10 seconds to go through each application. So, the application should highlight points that are relevant for that particular position. In short, the application needs to be customized to the job position. One single application cannot be suitable for different positions Keep the CV & Cover letter as simple as possible. It should be easy to read and follow. Having fancy patterns for CV or Cover letter does not make recruiters prioritize your application. It's only your experience in that particular position, which makes recruiters call you for the first interview It's a skill to find a correct balance between being friendly and being professional when you receive your first call for the interview. Be friendly and be curious about the next steps. Ask questions and details about how the interview would take place. This shows the recruiters your willingness to work and your interest in the position During the actual interview try giving concrete answers with examples. Generalized answers do not show how suitable you are for the position. Again, ask questions at the end of the interview. Prepare a set of questions well in advance of the interview Irrespective of for which position and in which company you apply, it's important that your CV, Cover letter and other documents that you send, are in a single pdf file named as below:surname_name_company's name_date of application If the documents are asked separately, every document should be named as below:Lebenslauf/CV_surname_name_company’s name_date of applicationAnschreiben/Cover Letter_surname_name_company's name_date of application A very important is to stay calm and friendly. Smile & show interest. The interview panellists want to know more about you and see how you are suitable for their companySo be yourself! That really makes an exceptionally good impression. This will help you to get through the selection process.Happy Onboarding!
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