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July 18, 2024, 05:26:46 am

Author Topic: "I think" - AngelWings' University Journal  (Read 23577 times)

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Bri MT

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Re: "I think" - AngelWings' University Journal
« Reply #45 on: October 24, 2018, 10:23:34 am »
+6
CONGRATULATIONS! !!

Hope you're able to make the best of your well-earned break!  :)

AngelWings

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Re: "I think" - AngelWings' University Journal
« Reply #46 on: October 24, 2018, 08:18:56 pm »
+7
CONGRATULATIONS! Amazing work - sounds as though it's been super hectic, but you're right: it's absolutely, 100% something to be proud of. :)
CONGRATULATIONS! !!
Hope you're able to make the best of your well-earned break!  :)
Thank you, J41 and Miniturtle!
It was super hectic right up until the last minute, but we all made it in the end and that's what counts.
The break is going to be well used for sure!
VCE: Psych | Eng Lang | LOTE | Methods | Further | Chem                 
Uni: Bachelor of Science (Hons) - genetics
Current: working (sporadically on AN)
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AngelWings

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Re: "I think" - AngelWings' University Journal
« Reply #47 on: December 31, 2018, 09:42:51 pm »
+12
Date: 31st December 2018
"Warning: this topic has not been posted in for at least 30 days. Unless you're sure you want to reply, please consider starting a new topic."
Sorry, little message, I know you're well-intended, but I'm going to go against you.
I know, I know. I'm well overdue, but I figured I might want to update this before 2018 ends. I've been postponing this over and over again for many reasons. Mostly it's because I've been busy - both in life and on AN. You'd know what I'm talking about if you were on AN a few weeks ago (thanks so much for all your questions again!):
(Look at the left of the picture.) Yup... I did that.
It's also because I've had issues trying to type this post. I couldn't quite phrase what I want to say without making this into an incredibly long post, so that's what this is going to be - a long post. As this is supposed to be a mostly university-focused journal, I'll try to keep it on topic.
Preface
To fully comprehend my scenario, I need to go back to some things I never mentioned in my previous posts. My ambitions. My personal goals. Why I was doing all this.

We need to go back to the start.

My Ambitions and Personal Goals
I had started this year with few ideas and fewer major goals. I had low expectations, mostly because I didn't know what to expect. My goals were trivial at first. Do research, get a Second Class Honours (Distinction), do my best, get out, get a job.

As the year rolled on, these ideas became a lot clearer. Inspiration lit a match of hope and passion, while clarity began fanning the flames and soon, my burning motivation was there. I don't want to merely survive this year. I want to thrive. I'll do my best, but ultimately, I want a First Class Honours (High Distinction), have the opportunity to do a PhD and come back in a few years. I'll work while I wait to do the PhD. I know I'm not ready yet for a PhD, but I know I will be in a few years.

Why did I want a PhD so bad now? Career choices. I'd been looking into what I might want to do in 2019 all the way back in March, particularly employment prospects. The more I searched up jobs that I genuinely enjoyed or was interested in, the more I realised I would need a PhD. I hadn't even considered further study at the start of this journal, but now, it became nearly a necessity.

I found out through a postgrad study info session that there were multiple paths to a PhD at Monash, but the main one consisted of two parts:
1. Get a certain mark for Honours.
2. Get into the top half of my cohort, which I've mentioned before, was already huge.
These got added into my goals.

There was a slight problem with these goals though: they hinged on the fact that I would even make the cut. To make it into a PhD, I needed more than a First Class Honours... and I know I'm not the best student. But I wasn't going to let that deter me from trying. Instead, I put my blood, sweat and tears into everything.

That's exactly how I continued throughout most of the year until near the end. I burnt out for a month, took it easy again and then did one last sprint towards the finish line. That's the part that, if you've read any other entry in this journal, you will have read. I omitted a lot of the smaller internal struggles, seeing that each journal entry was more of a general overview since the previous entry. However, I struggled a lot with overworking myself and imposter syndrome, signs of which have come up here and there in my entries.

That pretty much sets up the stage for what I wanted to talk about today - results.

Finishing Honours and Results
About a month ago
I received my thesis feedback. I had known that I would get some flack for my discussion, as that had been the part that I'd known wasn't great, so I wasn't really surprised when that came. The comments were more or less fair, so that was alright. There was a little bit of disappointment sprinkled in there though, as I got criticised for some relatively minor things and some things that I had thought were good. (I later realised that they were right.)

Overall, I was happy with that, although I was afraid for the mark it'd bring; we'd received the feedback without a mark. Had I done enough (for PhD entry)?

Sunday 2nd December
Marks for undergrad students (including Honours) were supposed to arrive on 3rd December, however, at Monash, we have the option to receive our results a little earlier via text. I had opted for this to ease off the 5-6 weeks of waiting. So did many of my friends.

That afternoon, I received my overall Honours results.

My phone had started pinging around 2:30pm. Group chat. My Honours classmates and friends had been messaging each other, wishing each other luck and then the fateful message. "Results are out." That was paraphrased.

A bated breath. 

Regretfully, I shouldn't have looked at my phone at that moment, because that's when my phone got a text. I'd left it on 'preview mode' - that one that gives you the first line of each text. So, of course, when I got that text... I saw way too much information all at once. Not my best moment, I'll admit. I'd lost my element of surprise. I had hoped to reveal it all at once - you know, "rip it off like a band aid". Not any more, apparently.

I knew from that first line of text exactly what I would feel next...
Results and Reaction
... and it wasn't what I expected.
- Yes, I got a First Class Honours.
- Yes, I was proud of myself.
- But no, I'd missed the mark I'd need to be eligible for a PhD at Monash... and, almost teasingly, I was slightly off.
*

Frustration. Anger (at myself). Internal crying.
Each wave was quick and gone in a split second.
Thoughts crowded my mind, intensifying with each passing second.
It began to morph. Thoughts. Emotions. Static. White noise.

I shook myself out of it. 

A deep breath. A single thought: "Now what?"

Silence.

"Guess I'm going to have to use my back up plan."

My heart sank. It had happened. I failed my goals.   

While I was happy about that First Class Honours, I was also disappointed. Too much had gone in. Too little came of it.
I was proud to say that I finished Honours and I am (somewhat) accomplished, but ... to be so close. Gah!

Another sigh. I would have to take the long route now. Not that it would have changed my plans much; I was still hoping to work in 2019. But I would take it for what it was and accept the hand that I was dealt. There was no use in crying over spilt milk. No point in dwelling on the past.

I would move forward. That was all that could be done... and so, reluctantly, I resigned to that. 

* I found out about a week later that the PhD cut off had been raised by one this year, due to our strong and large cohort.

Since then
Aftermath
At first, I pulled myself into other duties, both on AN and in life, so as to forget, if only for a moment. But as days wore on, I realised how insignificant this would be.

That path I was originally going to take? That was only the criteria to do a PhD at Monash. There were other institutes and, like I mentioned, grades weren't the only path. (I'd basically forgotten about that amongst the emotions.) There was the path of publication - something my supervisor had discussed with me before I ended Honours and something he'd shown interest in (and had an amazing track record for). There was another path, which was simply to gain experience - getting volunteer and/or work experience and doing things. That had been a path I was already working towards from the beginning.

I wasn't going to let this one setback get to me any longer. If anything, I would turn this into a life lesson: accept your losses, but always remember to rise to fight again another day. Not to mention that the world has a funny way of making things work out in the end. Things would be okay.

Despite all this, I couldn't quite take my mind off Honours just yet. There were still gaps in my grades. Two, to be specific: my thesis mark itself (which I had only received feedback, but not a mark for earlier) and a grade from my supervisor. While it didn't really matter what I got there, I grew curious as to what they were, just for the sake of closure....

... and this is where I'm going to end this entry. Yup, going to leave it on a small cliffhanger. For now. In the next (and probably final) entry of this journal, I will conclude with that tale and a proper reflection of my Honours year. I feel that's a fitting end to my academic journal.

Have a happy new year everyone! I'll see you in the next entry.
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AngelWings

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Re: "I think" - AngelWings' University Journal
« Reply #48 on: March 24, 2019, 08:36:38 pm »
+12
Date: 24th March 2019
Sorry it's been so long *cough* (3 months) since the last entry. I've been wanting to end this journal on a high note and add what happened afterwards, and that's taken a while to happen.

There's 5 main points I'll discuss today:
1. Finishing the story from last time
2. Providing a reflection on the year.
3. Reasons to do Honours and Recommendations if you do
4. My plans post-Honours
5. "What's next?" ... and finally answering this question.

I'll make these into big bold sections, so you can flip to the section(s) you want to read most. Oh and this post is going to be loooooong. You have been warned.
1. Finishing last time's story
Previously...
Despite all this, I couldn't quite take my mind off Honours just yet. There were still gaps in my grades. Two, to be specific: my thesis mark itself (which I had only received feedback, but not a mark for earlier) and a grade from my supervisor. While it didn't really matter what I got there, I grew curious as to what they were, just for the sake of closure....

... and this is where I'm going to end this entry. Yup, going to leave it on a small cliffhanger. For now.
Cliffhanger ends right here, right now.

About a fortnight after my overall marks arrived (the result of which you read in the last entry), I received a message that one more mark had arrived - the thesis mark. While I had received my thesis feedback, as in my thesis had been handed back with comments, I didn't actually get a grade for it. Thus, I'd been curious about because I wanted to know how close I'd been.

Turns out I'd been only a few marks off in my thesis. As in less than 5% more and I would've made it past the line. I knew exactly where I'd lost the marks from. If only I'd had another hour or two, I'd have read over my thesis one last time, found those mistakes and fixed them.

That result stung for a long time. But I'd also expected it and the mark was fair. No use letting myself get sucked into that negative black hole again.

At the time, it felt like I got sucked further in, but, with time, its hold on me diminished with more and more mental processing. I had not been ready for a PhD emotionally and I guessed that this just solidified that fact. If I didn't make it now, I'd try again later; I have the rest of my life to get it anyway. If anything, this was a learning opportunity for me, so I'm glad I had this lesson in humility.

And my supervisor's mark? I calculated it soon after receiving my thesis mark. My supervisor had been pretty happy with the work I'd done, receiving a solid First Class Honours/ High Distinction mark in the area, for which I was thankful for. At least all the hard work had gone somewhere and at least he hadn't been disappointed. Again, another fair and just mark in my arsenal.   

2. Reflecting over the year
I have no doubt that I enjoyed the year. Despite the not-so-great final result, I have many fond memories of Honours that will remain with me for many years to come. It's one of those things you do that, while it seems stressful, chaotic and busy whilst you're in the middle of it all, you look back and realise it's not exactly the giant monster you thought it once was, but actually something you'll look back to with a more positive outlook. Kind of like those scenes in comedy horror movies that the protagonist sees a giant beast coming after them, but it turns out it's just a tiny kitten's shadow cast against the wall, making it look like a beast.

Some things that happened included:
- Maturing a lot as a person and discovering more about myself, which is something I mentioned way back was going to be important to me:
Honours is mostly about the personal journey for me, so I think it might be interesting to see how this will go and whether I can actually endure much more than I believe I can. 2018 will be the year I find out what my limits are.
- Made friends and connections that will last me a lifetime, as well as opportunities.
- Really learnt and experienced the life of a researcher and how hard people work. Not all research is fruitful, exciting or new. Things will go wrong. Things will go in directions you don't expect or necessarily even want. Things happen and it's totally okay. As my high school careers teacher used to say, "shift happens".

Some things I learnt included:
- A lot about how evolution works in combinations of asexual and sexual species, which was what my research project was about
- How to communicate research better (especially getting it down to an elevator pitch) and how to implement better rhetoric in general
- How to pick a scientific article from an academic journal and critique it (It's quite the art form.)
- My strengths and weaknesses
- My limits and how to persevere even further than I did previously (including the years in my undergrad degree where I worked two jobs)

Regrets across the year:
- Should've written more practise discussions and reviews
- Should've tackled and handed my first thesis draft in way earlier than I did
- Should've made more use of my connections to get more hands on experience, since I did a theoretical project (I don't regret doing a theoretical project. I regret not asking to help others as often as possible.)
- Should've slept more during Honours and realised mistakes earlier
- Should've been a bit more proactive outside of my supervisor's research group

3. Reasons to do Honours and Advice for future Honours students
I thought this section might be useful considering I get this question occasionally (like 2-3 times a year) e.g. Exhibit A. Specifically, I'll answer the question: Should I do Honours and why? and add a little advice at the end of this section.

Honours is an intensive year where things will be rocky at the beginning and end, but all in all a great experience for those interested in accomplishing research and like their supervisor. Best for curious minds and those interested in careers in research and/or academia.

Should I do Honours?
If you answer "yes" to any of these criteria, you should probably consider Honours:
- You like research
- You want to do a career in research, whether it be in industry or academia. (Just note that your supervisor will be more familiar with the latter.)
- You want an edge in employment, especially those with generalist degrees e.g. Arts or Science
- You want to push your uni grades up for a postgrad degree (This is the blunt truth and often used as a last resort.)
- You are prepared to have some long days/ nights and put in the hard work. (This one is super important!)

Why should I do Honours?
- Pretty much all of the criteria listed above
- Connections and opportunities
- Industry experience, depending on your project
- Want to test yourself and try something new
- It's quicker and cheaper than a Masters, albeit less qualified (Remember: Honours is considered to be undergraduate.)

Advice for future Honours students:
- Pick a supervisor you think you'll work and learn well with - Do this at least half a year before you intend to start Honours.
- Things will change. A lot. Throughout your entire project. Get used to it. 
- Start your thesis early and aim for first draft in really early (and ditto for second draft)
- Participate wholeheartedly. Worst thing to do is staying quiet at journal clubs or meetings.
- Make the best of it. You never know what can come from Honours, including experiences and connections you won't get elsewhere.
- Enjoy it. (Duh!)

4. Post-Honours Plans
Remember how I said I was going to get some work experience and then come back in the last entry?
As the year rolled on, these ideas became a lot clearer. Inspiration lit a match of hope and passion, while clarity began fanning the flames and soon, my burning motivation was there. I don't want to merely survive this year. I want to thrive. I'll do my best, but ultimately, I want a First Class Honours (High Distinction), have the opportunity to do a PhD and come back in a few years. I'll work while I wait to do the PhD. I know I'm not ready yet for a PhD, but I know I will be in a few years.

Why did I want a PhD so bad now? Career choices. I'd been looking into what I might want to do in 2019 all the way back in March, particularly employment prospects. The more I searched up jobs that I genuinely enjoyed or was interested in, the more I realised I would need a PhD. I hadn't even considered further study at the start of this journal, but now, it became nearly a necessity.

-snip-

Not that it would have changed my plans much; I was still hoping to work in 2019.
That's still going on. My intentions are to find work, build my technical, industry and research skills up, maybe get a publication or two ??? and apply for a PhD program in the future. (How far? I don't know yet.) We'll see if that actually eventuates, I guess.

5. "What's next?" and finally answering this question
"What's next?" This still hasn't been answered in this journal yet, but I've been working on it.

Since I finished Honours, I've discovered that, while I enjoy the environmental side of things, I think the health side of things is where my career will lie. This has been a deliberate switch in gears for a number of reasons. One of these has included that I've recently found more of an interest in this area. Another is also because there's more opportunity to help others perhaps more directly - something that I've always been more drawn towards, hence why I've remained on AN for so long. A third reason has to do with my own personal circumstances and past work experiences.

This has been actually quite a fortuitous decision, because it has meant I know where to look for jobs and my searches have been rather directed towards certain organisations. As a result, I've been getting my act together ever since Honours ended, especially on the employment side of things. It looks like this is starting to wrap up now, with things starting to align into place. (Please let me know if you're interested in a post, thread or article on my own careers advice.) 

So what's next? Working in the health field... and finally, graduating from Monash after 4 years there (2015 - 2018) in late May 2019.


For all the highs and lows that my years at university brought, I'm happy to have shared at least a part of them with AN. Thanks so much for joining me on this journal and my journey through uni (well, mostly Honours). If you read all of it, thank you for your time and interest into this sliver of my life. As always, if you have any questions about anything in this journal, feel free to PM me or ask below. :)

Signing out for the final entry in this journal,
Angel Wings
« Last Edit: March 24, 2019, 09:39:45 pm by AngelWings »
VCE: Psych | Eng Lang | LOTE | Methods | Further | Chem                 
Uni: Bachelor of Science (Hons) - genetics
Current: working (sporadically on AN)
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