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"You and your Phd" by Monika Janfelt: ten lessons to remember

Ilaria Orsi, CUSO

At the beginning of the year we launched a survey among the CUSO PhD community to better build our offer. In order to encourage as many responses as possible, those who completed the survey had the opportunity to win (by drawing lots) a copy of « You and Your Phd », the recent book by Monika Janfelt ( about career preparation for doctoral students.

Among the plethora of titles concerning doctoral training in Europe, the Danish author's book stands out not only for the freshness of the style and the relevance of the content, but most importantly for the fact of directly addressing to the real protagonists of the "PhD adventure": young researchers at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of their thesis.

Despite its small size, the book offers many lessons. Here are our top ten:

1. From the beginning of your thesis, consider your doctoral journey as a stage in the larger context of your long-term professional life1.
2.    Keep a career journal: make notes about your ambitions, the interesting job positions you aspire to, your dreams. In times of crisis, rereading these pages can be very useful.
3.    Be clear and honest with yourself: what is the real motivation that pushed you to start a thesis?
4.    You will inevitably go through the routine, time-consuming and sometimes unexciting phase of collecting and managing data. Imagine yourself as a meticulous craftsman and keep in mind that this allows you to acquire important transferable skills: patience and perseverance.
5.    Don't be afraid of change: your path can be adapted as you go along. Talk to your thesis director and reconsider your choices if necessary.
6.    PhD is a valuable opportunity to practice self-management. Take advantage of it!
7.    Take care of yourself and of your well-being.
8.    Take advantage of career counseling services that exist within your university2.
9.    Build your professional network also by more informal and spontaneous exchanges.
10.    Think about all that the PhD can offer in terms of personal development.

You and Your Phd is an ideal companion, to be read and reread at each stage of your doctoral journey. A book we wholeheartedly recommend!

1. Concerning this point, the CUSO Transversal Programme offers a bespoke workshop : « Your PhD in Context : Manage Yourself and Improve Effectiveness Through the Log Frame Approach », with S. Steiner.


Mots clés: Career, PhD, Resources