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AFGDP – one student’s experience

From the very beginning of my PhD I was encouraged by my peers and supervisors to take any of the AFGDP courses I had an interest in. It was widely known in Teagasc the benefit that these modules would have on an early career researcher who was unsure of who she was and where she was going. Now, just under 2 years on, I reflect on the 4 AFGDP courses I have attended as some of the most worthwhile courses during my PhD so far.
Statistics was the first course I attended, about 6 months into my PhD. During these 3 days I learnt so much from the enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker, Dr. Sean Lacey. Not only were we learning the basics of statistics, means and variances, T-tests and ANOVAS, but we were learning how to apply this knowledge in SPSS so we could analyse our own data.
I then attended the Leadership course. Never in my life did I think I could learn so much about myself as a person in just 3 days!! From personality tests to team building, I learnt so much about my own personality and how I interact with other people. Knowledge that I have brought back to my own office that has made me look at the way my team interacts with one another and how I fit into it all. Hopefully in the future I will use the knowledge I gained on this course to help me lead my own research team!
Next up was Academic writing and Presenting. As a researcher the importance of good academic writing is always to the fore of your work but what really stood out to me on this course was the presenting section! We spent a day working with Dr. Niamh Shaw and I have never felt so comfortable making a “fool out of myself”. Her aim was to get us out of our comfort zones as science researchers and get us “performing” and she definitely did that! I was always nervous about presentations but now I just think back to this day and the mental preparation we were thought about and I instantly feel more confident and relaxed!
The most recent course I attended was on Career Management. A course I will be forever thankful for taking. The knowledge I gained about interview preparation and CVs will forever be with me. I have now realised that career management is a continuous plan that will be evolving for the rest of my working life!
Overall, the quality of the speakers these courses attract speak for the quality of this programme as a whole. Also, these courses are not only just a way for us to learn the skills we need for our future careers but are also a way for us to network and meet like-minded people! We are the future researchers and these courses allow us to form relationships that may allow for collaborations in the future! I just cannot say enough about what these courses have done for my confidence and what I have gained from attending.
Jennifer Doyle, Teagasc and W.I.T.

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