Hard work + patience = rewards…

…by Priya / from India / PhD Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre 2013-2017

It was an evening this January when I walked into the living room and my flatmates were talking about how they thought 2016 was going to a terrible year and nothing good was going to come out it. Even though there was a part of me that totally agreed with them, I didn’t tell them that. I told them what I truly believed, which was…this year will be a struggle, with a lot of hard work, set backs and sleepless nights to get through, but at the end the rewards will be great.

Admittedly for me, January seemed awful so I hoped for a better February, and that was also horrible so I couldn’t wait for March. March seemed like the worse and April couldn’t come soon enough. Now, May is approaching far too soon, but the thing is, I am already looking back now at all the things I have achieved in the last 4 months and it’s really not that bad. In fact, I am counting the rewards on two hands!

Our institute held an unofficial “3 minute thesis (3MT)” competition at the beginning of this month. After seeing the performers last year, I had long decided I wanted to give it a shot this year. But then this year in coincided with me having a terrible cough and cold and no voice for the entire week before the competition. I felt awful, but cancelling due to illness is not in my nature, so I pulled myself together and put myself out there. As if by magic, I won. Not just the judges prize, but people’s choice too. There’s £100 I wouldn’t have had if I did back out.

I went through the College of Medicine and Veterinary Science round, which is part of the official 3MT, all rules are strictly adhered too. This time there were more participants from different institutes. I hadn’t really had much time to prepare but I’d just refined my speech and slide a little. I wasn’t really expecting much and there were some really good talks at this one, the chances of winning were much slimmer, yet I came second, got £75 and I’m through the university final!!!

My supervisor joked “I’m going to tell HR to stop paying you as you’re going to earn enough money winning these competitions.”

Yesterday, I went to a little conference organised by the postdocs of  my institute and the Beatson Institute in Glasgow. They allowed final year students to attend and it was free, so I though, why not? and got accepted to present a poster. The day was split into two halves, with a keynote and short talks in morning and careers talks in the afternoon. It was nice to hear research from different fields, and I really enjoyed the careers talks (but I’m still not decided where my future is heading!). However, for me the best bit is in the middle. I LOVE talking to sales people at stands (and getting freebies!!!). Plus we had a little challenge of collecting stickers from the stand to be entered into a prize draw.
Since, I was a PhD student, I had little chance of winning a poster prize so I had to try and win something. I felt a bit like a little kid but I enjoyed to rush! At some point though, I had to weigh up the fact that I was there to present a poster and retreat to a bit of talking science myself. Everyone I talked too seemed very impressed by my work, but surely they say that to everyone, right? Then it came to poster prizes. And low and behold my name was announced! There were no rankings but I got £50!

Not that I like to brag, but I never win anything. But it’s like my mum tells me, we are never going to get anything in life without hard work. I will never win a raffle or the lottery, if I want something I’ve got to out the work into it. And I’ve been reflecting on some of the other things I’ve got this year. I received a scholarship to go and do part of the Camino de Santiago (look forward to my blog on that later this year), I got a travel grant to attend the Young Researchers in Life Science conference in Paris, and I have also managed to get funding for the Hindu Society (for which I have been elected President!).

This year, a number of PhD students often tell me “I’m too busy,” “I haven’t got time for this.” This has been really annoying me because I am certain that my plate is already much more full than their’s. If you want to do something, there is always time. IT might seem like a battle to squeeze it all in, but the rewards will be sweet and you will easily forget the struggle.

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