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Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 8:23 am
by Hadeel B.
Hello everyone,

I am an ambitious human being who carries in her heart a big dream, which is to be a scientist. Thank God I was blessed to experience one of the most beautiful things that happened in my life, I got a scholarship to study master's in Italy, It was an enlightening experience, I learned so many things in the academic, practical, and the social level. The social one is of a great importance actually as my degree, by the way I am from Jordan, so being a girl from the middles east who experienced to live in a completely different culture, it wasn't easy at all at first, and I have met many people from different cultural background. But, it really opened my eyes on many things, my mind and my heart. And after finishing my MSc. In Molecular Biology and Genetics, I was trying for a year now to obtain a PhD position abroad, for many reasons, but, mainly because I seek a better level of education and research. I applied for a several international programs, but I didn't get lucky yet, I don't know what is wrong, is it because I am from the middle east? Since the political situations aren't stable, while in Jordan it is. Or there is another reason, I know that I don't have a great experience, but this is why I am looking for a PhD I want to gain more experience and knowledge in the field, and I am highly motivated and passionate about it. Sometimes I really feel frustrated, I emailed many doctors, I applied for many programs, and I got a lot of (We're sorry).I don't wanna give up my dream! I can't imagine myself anywhere else! Please if anyone can help me or advise me, I will appreciate it.

Thank you...

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:04 am
by PG
Welcome to the forum. It is good to hear that you have a dream of becoming a scientist. I dont Think that it is the fact taht you are from the middle east that is causing you problems. For example the department that I did my PhD in had PhD students and postdocs from more than 100 nationalities including several countries in the middle east.

How do you select the people that you apply to and how are you typically going through the process? If you for example mostly apply for advertised PhD positions from well knows institutions that is an uphill battle with probably hundreds of applications for each position. Also if you identify potential PhD supervisors and send them an application without having been in Contact with them before it will have a very low probability of success.

As compared to these two scenarios you will have a much better probability of success if you can network with Groups at the location you are interested in going to Before submitting an actual application. For example lets assume that you are interested in going to a well known research institute in Berlin for your PhD studies within a certain area of research. If you can identify existing PhD students/postdocs or scientists working at that institute that you can reach out to and discuss what you want to acheive they might be able to provide information that can be very helpful. If you can identify people that you either have something in common with (being from the same country, the same region, having a similar education, similar interests etc) or that are working in an area that you have specific interest in that will be a good starting Point for a networking effort. Almost everyone likes to talk with people that they have something in common with.

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 1:42 pm
by D. Martin
Hadeel:

it is very hard to get accepted if you do not apply to the right program... For example, at my institution, we get north of 100 international applicants each year and it is hard to know who is/are the best (we take 4-6 each year). Good letters of recommendation, GRE, PAPERS (if you have one) are all needed to be successful. Still, it may not work. Another key is to have your personal funding, many countries offer financial help for people to study abroad; of course you can be admitted without funding but having your own money always helps. An interesting alternative you can try is to write a Fulbright project, that will help you to showcase your skills and there is less rick for a professor. I am willing to explain you more if you want (you can sent me a personal message).

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 9:41 am
by Hadeel B.
Oh, thank you so much for welcoming me here, I think you are probably right, in most cases I applied for a well known competitive programs, I will consider the other options more, although I contacted many doctors, but most of them don't reply and the other don't have positions.I will try more, and I hope to not give up my dream.

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:27 am
by PG
There are important differences in how you contact someone. If you contact someone asking for a position that will be considered an application and has a high probability of being rejected or getting a no thank you response. If you instead Contact someone and ask some intelligent questions about their work, mention that you are interested in doing a PhD in their country/city and ask for advice about how that can be achieved you have a much better chance of getting a response and especially to get a response that can lead to something else.

There is a lot of information in this forum and also on the science careers webpage about networking and many useful tips for how to do this in a agood way.

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:36 am
by Hadeel B.
Aha, I see, I get your point. Thank you so much it's really a helpful advice, I will try this way from now on. Thank you so much again.

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 9:16 am
by PG
Please let us know how things work for you and ask follow-up questions for anything that we may be able to help with.

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:03 pm
by Hadeel B.
Sure I will, I hope that something would happen soon :)
Thank you..

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:52 pm
by WG
As one of the previous posters said it is very important to have good GRE scores, good recommendation letters, and to write a good personal statement. These will help you stand out from the competition. Here are my suggestions:

Study for the GRE and/or TOEFL, aim to get a really good score. P.S. The GRE is required only if you are applying to Universities in North America.

One improvement you can make is in your writing, some people may be lenient but others will be out off by some of the simple grammatical mistakes you make. There are examples of personal statements online, use Google to find them, learn from those examples and write your own. Do the same for your C.V.

The people who write you recommendation letters should be people you have worked with.Ideally they should be detailed so that the reader knows what skill set you have, your work ethic while providing some insight into your character

Do you have any friends or family in PhD programs? Those can be a useful resource in finding a school, suggesting potential programs etc. Your Masters advisor should also be able to help you. Reach out to your network. There are lots of schools out there, having the advice of people who know can help to guide you to a place where you will pursue your goals but also be comfortable living

You should also be aware that you can branch out abit to pursue a PhD in a field that is slightly different from what your Masters was in. Of course you would have to justify whatever choices you make in your personal statement. Good luck with your pursuits and if you have more questions feel free to ask them or send a message.

Re: Finding a PhD

PostPosted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:59 pm
by Hadeel B.
Thank you so much for your advice :)
I appreciate it.