Managing your postgraduate life

Postgraduate study requires you to maintain relationships with your supervisor and fellow students as well as manage your time and balance commitments.

The postgraduate journey

As a journey, ups and downs are only to be expected. See Nilam Ashra-McGrath (a PhD graduate from the UK) describes it as a rollercoaster. See her presentation about her rollercoaster ride on Prezi.

Working with your supervisor

If you are working with a supervisor in your postgraduate study journey, it is important to establish your roles and expectations. The Supervisory Expectation Checklist DOC72KB can help you identify differences between your expectations and your supervisor's expectations. It is best to negotiate these areas of difference early in your research journey. Once you meet regularly with your supervisor it is also important to keep a record of what has been discussed, decided upon and action points from the meeting. Use this Meeting template DOC36KB as a starting point.

Check out the support services and resources for students offered by the Wellington Faculty of Graduate Research.

Meeting other students

Working on your research with your supervisor can feel isolating, so there is a lot of value in getting in touch with other research students. Attend events organised by the Postgraduate Students' Association where you have the opportunity to meet other students who are on a similar journey to you.

If you are an international student, you may want to attend our Excel on Campus for postgraduate students. In this workshop series you will learn how to communicate effectively at Victoria University of Wellington, for example negotiating with supervisors and participating effectively in seminars. You will also get to meet other postgraduate international students.

Balancing commitments

As a postgraduate student, you will need to learn how to use your time efficiently. Cal Newport in his book Deep Work suggests the following formula:

The quality of work you produce depends not only on how much time you put in, but also on how focussed you are during that time. Because you may have work and family commitments as well as research commitments, you will need to develop your focus skills to be able to make the most of the time you spend studying. Watch the video below that summarises the ideas from the book.

Success in a distracted world: DEEP WORK by Cal Newport

The three core messages from the book on how to develop deep work skills are:

  1. Schedule distractions
  2. Develop a deep work ritual
  3. Develop an evening shutdown ritual.