I am really glad that I attended this summer school, I was a little scared about going as I did not know anyone and it was the first big academic conference I had been to since starting, but even the application process was really helpful (as I had to write an abstract of my PhD), and in attending I met people working in lots of different academic areas, and made some great friends.
The School was a mixture of talks, workshops and social events, based in the rather grand buildings of Edinburgh University. Five days of packed programme were organised, and I had booked different sessions so that I had some full days and some half days (planning to fit in some reading and writing in my ‘spare’ sessions).
The sessions which I booked were:
- Designing creativity and innovation in research (we wrote mini manifestos)
- Evaluating your digital impact (this was really useful for me as I found out lots of ‘academic networking’ tips and learned new things about how paper rankings and academic profiles on Google Scholar work)
- writing for a broader audience (useful to be reminded of this, some good tips and food for thought)
- what I did with my PhD (career routes post PhD, I learned a lot in this and it got me thinking about work en route to PhD completion in terms of papers I might write and things which will help me post PhD)
One of the sessions I found most helpful was a coaching session encouraging us to get ‘your PhD your way’, led by Will Med encouraging us to reflect on our core values and also learn to tame our critical gremlins. I had never thought about coaching before, but I have returned to the techniques which I learned that day on a regular basis and am very thankful for this session.
The weather was unseasonably warm for Edinburgh in June, which led to some picnic dinners and very pleasant walks between campus and halls (living in halls again was a fun reminder of undergraduate life though I am glad I have my own space back now!). We were priviledged to enjoy some time out on the fringe terrace roof garden, teaming up to try out a quiz.
In summary, I would highly recommend attending these academic summer school type events, it may sound like a lot of time away but I found that sharing experiences with others and having a period of taught activities covering different disciplines and skills was a huge boost.