This has certainly been an eventful year for me, career-wise. I started the year in my very new job (which I still wasn’t sure was right for me) while also having a pending PhD application (which basically seemed like pie in the sky and wasn’t quite real). It turned out that I actually did genuinely enjoy my job, and it was absolutely the right move for me. In the brief time I worked as Repository Manager I grew as an information professional, and it gave me such a good grounding in many of the principles behind my PhD research – in particular relating to metadata standards and research data management. It also gave me the opportunity to really think about whether accepting my funded PhD place was the right decision for me. It would have been very easy to accept with very little thought, had I still been in my previous job when it was offered, but being able to compare it to a job I actually enjoyed and where I had the opportunity to grow and flourish was a much more difficult decision. This has also been a major motivator for having the self-discipline to get on with my PhD work – potentially risking a promising career for a huge challenge I still don’t know I’m capable of completing definitely focuses the mind!
In terms of the PhD, it’s still really early days, and it’s still difficult to answer the question ‘So how’s your PhD going?’ because I still don’t really know, but what I do know is that I’ve only been doing this thing for two months and I’ve already learned a huge amount. I’ve generated an enormous dataset of Linked Data from a script in a programming language (Python) I didn’t know before; I’ve created a poster from my work and presented it at an international conference; I’ve met so many interesting, inspiring and lovely people, including my supervisors; I’m gradually becoming familiar with ‘research-speak’ (mainly by Googling words like ‘epistemology’ and ‘constructivism’ when they get thrown about in seminars). I still have a long way to go, this is only the start of my journey, but I am enjoying it so far – it’s fun, challenging and stimulating, and it’s so refreshing to be using all of my brain for one (albeit broad) purpose (after working full time and studying Astrophysics part time). Motivation has been less of a problem than I thought it would be, although this might be because the novelty hasn’t worn off yet. I miss working in an office and chatting to people (and particularly at this time of year, the Christmas parties), but I’m trying to make sure I’m sociable around my study timetable, otherwise I’d probably go a bit stir crazy.
Outside of work, life has been pretty good. I was in a play in April, went to Glastonbury in June and went on holiday to both Venice and the USA. I’m really appreciating the increased amount of free time I have since stopping my part time university course, and I think my partner is too!