As we have seen in the “PhD checklist” post, one should complete 8 items to get a PhD seat in a reputed university. Out of the 8 items, the first checklist item is to consult with a PhD scholar. Either the consulting person should be currently pursuing a PhD or should have completed the degree within the past 2 years. In this post, I will share my experience and explain why it is important to talk with a PhD scholar from your field of interest.
It’s been a year since I decided to study for my PhD. Since I had my master’s degree in management, I would like to pursue my PhD degree in the management field. When I was expressing my interest with a close friend, she insisted that I should talk to her friend who had just completed PhD in the marketing field from a reputed national university. I was very fortunate to get the contact within a short time. Without much delay, I contacted the person and had a chat for an hour. The conversation helped me to set priorities and gave direction for my preparation. Though anyone can google and gain knowledge about the PhD admission process, it will not give directions about where one should start and how to go about it.
The information on the internet is all over the place. On the other hand, if you get directions from a PhD scholar, it will channelize your hard work in a fruitful direction.
First, you will know the steps involved in a PhD admission process. While knowing about it, you will get to understand the real challenges behind it as the person you are interacting with have gone through the same process. For example, in my case, I was aware of all the crucial steps in the admission process. However, I understood the focus areas only after my interaction with the PhD scholar. From that day, I respect and treat her as my PhD mentor. So, I would strongly suggest a PhD aspirant interact with PhD scholars and get one of them as your mentor till your PhD admission.
Apart from guidance, you get opportunities to work on research projects. For example, a PhD scholar will be doing many projects for professors. Even if they are occupied, they can always connect you with other scholars who need some help with their projects. For PhD admission, research experience is the key differentiator.
Your interaction with scholars opens ample opportunities for real-time research.
It is not required for you to publish a paper along with any scholar; however, you can learn about research techniques and journal writing etiquette while working with a scholar. For instance, in my case, I joined a PhD support group through my mentor. Now, I am working on a case study that involves secondary research and academic writing. So, one can learn about research techniques and journal writing with the help of a PhD scholar.
Finally, a PhD scholar can help you with recommendation letters if you have assisted them well. For any university, at least 2 recommendation letters are required from academic background to justify your academic interest. If you have assisted the PhD scholars, they can write one for you or can get it from one of the professors they are working with. PhD scholars assist professors, and by helping them, you are indirectly part of a professor’s research. Though your name will not appear in the journals, you can most likely get a recommendation letter if you have helped with their research work.
Overall, once you have decided to pursue a PhD degree, contact a PhD scholar from your interest field and treat them as your PhD mentor. Their guidance will give direction, research support, and recommendation for your PhD preparation.
Thanks for reading the full article. Hope you have understood the role of a PhD mentor in the PhD preparation process. In the next article, I will talk about how to evaluate your current academic position. Meanwhile, if you have any queries, please type in the comment section. I will answer to the best of my knowledge!