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Skills for the real world: postgraduate student profile

Following an undergraduate degree and an 18-month stint as a member of staff at Manchester, Rhys Archer signed up for her PhD – and was surprised to discover what she was capable of achieving.

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On support

“We had lots of Welcome events, introducing: staff, the School and campus; sport and well-being; opportunities for blogging, charity work, industry work, summer schools.

“Training continues right through, on academic writing, critical reading and referencing. An online training programme includes a skills check and progress review every three months. It’s reassuring to see that you’re on the right track – and improving.”

On well-being

“A PhD can overtake you, because you’re so invested in it; you can focus all your energy on just doing research. It’s important to keep up with your extra-curricular activities – and there are lots at Manchester. I go climbing and go to the gym. I also teach in undergraduate labs and do outreach work. It gives me a really good work-life balance.”

On community work

“The University is right in the middle of lots of different communities, and there are so many programmes to connect students with those communities. I think that’s something really unique and special that Manchester offers.

“Doing charity work, and doing outreach – talking to primary school children about science, about research – has given me different skills, and made me part of the local community.”

On the postgraduate experience

“There’s something very personal about a PhD – you’re being judged on you and your ability to research. There are days when everything goes wrong, and it takes a lot to pick yourself up again.

“I definitely didn’t think I had that kind of resilience and commitment. I’m more persistent than I thought.”