I’m a PhD student in her final year – it’s time to start jettisoning non-essential baggage!
Taking it on
In the archaeology department we have a student seminar series called PGtips, a witty pun on the abbreviation for postgraduate (PG) and a brand of tea! Each session features two twenty minute presentations from postgraduates in the department (although we have had visiting speakers in the past).It runs about once a month, and gives students the opportunity to showcase their research, practice conference presentations and try out ideas in a relaxed environment. It is well attended by masters, PhD students and post docs alike, and is a social as much as an academic event – we all head to the pub for the equally witty PGtipsy afterwards!
For two years I have been coordinating and chairing these meetings, taking over from other intrepid, battle-scarred PhD students before me. My duties have generally been chief nagger, organiser, sommelier, baker and glass washer – organising students to present, setting up and chairing the sessions and clearing away afterwards. I created a Facebook page this year for students to more easily access and respond to calls for presenters/ bribe attempts, which has been great!
In addition to running the usual sessions I have also set up the Ground-Breaking Research showcase, which happens at the beginning of each academic year, featuring around 10 five-minute presentations from current researchers. It’s a brilliant way to welcome our new cohort of masters and PhD students into the department and immerse them in the great research community that we have.
This year I’ve also set up the archaeology department blog which reports on stories and goings on around the department. Some of our most interesting stories have been about the Community Day archaeology stall run by myself and Matt Knight over at A Life in Fragments, the recently unveiled Desmond Collins collection donated to the department and the Roe Deer butchery that was performed as part of the experimental MA course. During term time, we run a weekly feature on the departmental seminar, which happens every Friday. As if my totalitarian social media dictatorship were not complete, I’m also head tweeter behind the Archaeology department twitter account – so if it seems to retweet me a lot, I guess you now know why.
Letting it go
This blog post is starting to read like a CV of my extra-curricular activities during my PhD, and I suppose that’s because it is. I’m in my third year now – my intended submission deadline is in the Autumn (it’ll all be over by Christmas, eh?) – and I’m having to let some things go.
And it’s really, really hard.
PGtips is the first thing that needs to go that I really don’t want to let go. It takes a fair amount out of my time, but I didn’t realise how much I enjoy all the planning and organising, and kind of how I have moulded my identity in the department as the one who comes around (by email and physically) to beg for presenters. Last year no one wanted to take the reins; this year I’ve had to drop them either way. Luckily they’ve been picked up by two more fresh-faced PhD students who will absolutely do a brilliant job with PGtips – but that doesn’t make it any easier to keep my nose out!
It’s time to let it go, and finish my PhD.