facets of academe

have been shortlisted for two (TWO!) full PhD stipend scholarships tenable at cambridge — I am somewhat hysterical as I do not interview well in the least, and have discovered that the interviewing panels for one of them is comprised of no less than nine (NINE!) panelists. Any tips on such things will be most appreciated.

regarding the virginia tech shootings — perhaps I am in a minority here, but I feel the new york times’ “victim’s graphic” displays an appalling lack of taste. a grid of rictal faces to point and click at, and have mealy-mouthed 200-word biographies pop up on your screen (personal page, comments — an array of mass-produced obituaries). sickening. I would rather mourn a name than mourn a profile that reduces the dead into someone I can pretend I knew.

but in circumstances like these, perhaps every expression threatens to be inappropriate.

I have other disconsolations, other terrible grievances on the shootings, but this is not quite the place for them.


12 responses to “facets of academe

  • Gavin Robinson

    The interview for my PhD studentship was with a huge panel. Basically the whole of the university’s research board, drawn from lots of different disciplines. In that kind of situation it’s important to be able to sell your research to non-specialists and make it sound important. In a way you’re selling your discipline as well as your topic. I still don’t know how I got through it, and in the end I came 5th when there were only 4 grants on offer and only got the money cos someone else dropped out.

    General tips for any interviews would be to make a list of all the questions they could possibly ask and try to think of good answers for them. Also get someone to ask you the questions so you can practice answering them.

  • Dan

    The first thing to say is congratulations on being shortlisted for two. So many factors can be involved in who actually gets the stipends in the end: but no matter what happens if you’re making it onto shortlists, senior scholars think your work is of real importance.
    Nine panellists is, frankly, a pretty poor way to treat any candidate. But as Gavin writes, if there are that many then you know that there will be mostly non-specialists to whom you need to sell yourself.
    I’d recommend making a list of the points you want to make sure you get across in the process of answering their questions. Suggestions – that you have a clear plan to finish the PhD on time and first time, that you have a sense of your work’s importance beyond the specific specialism, and that you have a longer term plan – ie that they are funding the future, not just the PhD. Good luck!

  • andrew weiss

    Hey, congrats on the interviews! I’m still waiting on mine. May I ask what funds you applied to? I had assumed the AHRC is one of them but I didn’t think they gave such early notification…

    Actually I hadn’t thought twice about it, but now that you mention it, that New York Times graphic is really quite dreadful.

  • Eric

    I too am very poor at interviews and too sat before nine individuals (though for an undergraduate scholarship, and not doctoral) recently. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it (but fortunately, was able to get a better one based on the fact that I’m poor and not white). So my advice really isn’t valid at all. But everyone seemed to impress upon me the importance of not swiveling in your chair.

  • rAchel

    thanks all for your well-wishes & advice🙂

    @ andrew: I’m not eligible for AHRC, as I’m not a British citizen. I applied for the Tunku Abdul Rahman scholarship (a trust fund for Malaysian students at Cambridge) and the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. I’m not really holding out much for the latter, as it’s ludicrously competitive (sort of like the Rhodes or Marshall). but we shall see.

    @ dan: just incidentally, I noticed you’re a lecturer at QMUL — my ex-supervisor has recently moved there, one inestimable Colin Jones. he is rather cool🙂

  • andrew weiss

    Wow, those Gates scholarship shortlists are like gold. Congratulations again.

  • robin

    If you get both, do you get to do two PhDs? I think the second one should be in blogging. P.S. First you will have to start the Dept. of Blogging at Cambridge.

  • rAchel

    it’s really quite unlikely I’ll get both, or even either at all, given the competition. hopefully my college will fund me if I fall flat out on these. otherwise this blog may turn into ‘the Management Consultant’s Craft’ come this October.

    either that, or — forget Dept. of Blogging, I’ll start up a whole University of Blogging!

  • Nonpartisan

    I did one of these for undergrad, and failed miserably. So I’ve got no good advice to give But congratulations!🙂

  • Dan

    Colin is A VERY GOOD THING. And seeing as how he is chair of the AHRC History panel, sees lots of applications, and wins lots of funding for his own work, I should think you should ask his advice about getting scholarships!

  • non sequitur « a historian’s craft

    […] Robin, I will not be starting up the Dept. of Blogging, let alone doing a second PhD in it but this is a […]

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