So it’s been quite a while, and I’ll go back and write some updates about cool things that happened in the last few months, but I figured I’d go ahead and write about this one now!
All entering PhD students are “registered for no formal registration (NOTAF) until satisfactory progress has been made” and can say we are “registered for a a PhD (Probationary) or NOTAF” for the first year. The satisfactory progress includes a short presentation, a 40 page report, and an oral exam (known as a viva).
All in all, I passed. It wasn’t by any flying colors, but it wasn’t poor enough to look at failing me. This was aided by some of the circumstances regarding project handover and project definition being less than clean or clear for an extended period of time, so my progress was not held to such a high standard, nor has it made it to where I wish it was. My grasp on how to clearly deliver the underlying information, and in what order, was definitely lacking, which made for an uncomfortable few minutes.
The viva then turned from being grilled into a discussion, which proved very fruitful and thought provoking. We discussed ways and resources to improve my writing and undergo a longer writing process. They gave me advice on creating effective and concise figures, rather than my attempt to get my 11th hour data into the report. We discussed how to move forward with a project plan, which should prove most useful in the near future. Most importantly, we talked about the fact that I’ve been very detail oriented and have lost sight over the bigger picture, a skill I need to exercise and develop more.
This was a good and productive meeting for me. I feel both relieved to have gotten through it and excited to focus on improving in areas highlighted in the viva. I’m looking forward to spending the next few years in Cambridge developing my PhD.