Improve your skills – Graduate training at the faculty

You don’t understand anything until you learn it more than one way.
(Marvin Minsky)

There you are, with your degree, possibly an MSc, having written countless essays, a couple of dissertations perhaps, having given presentations, passed exams, spent endless hours in the library, thinking you’ve got all the skills it takes to be a researcher – until you realise that there is always room for improvement, plenty of room.

Our faculty, EPS (Engineering and Physical Sciences), offers free workshops to postgraduate students and research staff to target exactly those “problem areas”. From academic writing to presentation skills and “Managing the relationship with your supervisor” to “Junk the Jargon”* workshops, whether it’s a “bite size” lunch time session or a 2-day “Writing Retreat” (which I have just registered for – fingers crossed I get the place!), there is a workshop for literally everything and everyone. The training courses are run by experienced researchers and facilitators, who are often not only experts in teaching skills, but also entertaining and very approachable.

I recently attended a project management workshop and wrote a short review about it for issue 18 of the STEPS (Skills Training Essentials for PGR Students) newsletter you can download the PDF here!

* Communicating research in particular is getting more and more popular (don’t we all want to be the next Brian Cox?), and as soon as a – ahem – “normal” person asks you about your research, you will wish you had a simple and understandable answer at hand.

What are you saying? Enough of the study talk already, you’re hungry? There you go: EATS Restaurant at University Place – the main cafeteria. EATS is a huge cafeteria with several different types of food on offer for a reasonable price. Go for pizza or pasta, traditional British, have the chefs cook a stir fry right in front of you, or choose the ever so popular fish & chips, all for under a fiver. While this sounds great in theory, I’m not a huge fan of the food which is about as dull as the atmosphere of the neon-lit and noisy cafeteria. However, one highlight for me is the salad bar where you can load a big container full with fresh fruit salad – that’s 2 of your 5-a-day sorted for a fair £1.50!