We’re all searching for Study-Work-Life balance, right? However, it would also be smart to consider other projects while searching for that elusive equilibrium. Christina Efthymiadou shares her thoughts on the benefits of joining a multi-disciplinary network…
The PhD Life blog is destined to give voice to the multiple reflections of PhD experiences and I will take advantage of the space to share my thoughts and emotions about my involvement and role at the Migration, Identity and Translation Network (MITN), a project supported by the Monash Warwick Alliance. MITN is designed to act as a hub for researchers, teachers, students and practitioners interested in any and all of our overlapping thematic areas. I have been involved as a member of MITN since its official launch in August 2015.
Getting involved with a network offers many opportunities. It provides you with the context to do research other than your PhD in the areas you are interested in, organise multidisciplinary events and meet distinguished academics in a friendly environment, develop your leadership, organisation and communication skills, gain confidence and a feeling of self-fulfilment. But most importantly, it offers you the opportunity to meet other young researchers from your university and also from other institutions around the world, with whom you share common research interests and also agonies. Being part of such a flexible network gives you invaluable experience in an academic world that becomes more and more competitive and demanding, it helps you build up your network and develop your professional identity as a young researcher.
Since September 2016, I have taken up the role of the Warwick PhD representative of the network and I have become more involved with it. It has not always been easy to coordinate our actions with different groups around the world: different time zones, backgrounds and different working styles can prove challenging. Establishing rapport and a group-identity with people you only meet virtually is yet another obstacle to overcome. Being open to differences and being willing to listen and find common ground with the other person has proven to be a key to successful collaborations.
My journey so far in the network has been extremely rewarding. Overcoming difficulties, receiving positive feedback from colleagues, meeting them in the various events and establishing a relationship with them has been very self-fulfilling. Apart from the events we do online, I have been able to meet in person some of the network members from other universities in various events. They have travelled to the UK and I have travelled abroad to join them in some of our events too. I was then able to meet them personally, I visited their institutions and learned how they do things there. I have kept in touch with some of those people and have also met them outside MITN events.
The PhD can be a lonely journey. Yes, I agree. And it has to be to a certain extent, since in many respects it’s a self-exploratory venture. However, there are so many things you can share throughout: like experiences, ideas, feelings. For me, getting involved with MITN has offered me a friendly environment to do so. Talking to others and learning to share with them thoughts can be very revealing in many aspects.
All in all, my involvement in MITN has been a great journey into learning and one of the best things of my experience as a PhD student so far. It is something that I would definitely suggest to other PhD students: find a network for you! If you think that MITN is the place for you, please visit our website, our Facebook page, or our YouTube channel. If you’re interested in joining us, please email Christina Efthymiadou (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lola Sundin (email@example.com). Another similar network within Warwick is the Borders, Race, Ethnicity and Migration Network (BREM). I’m sure there are many other networks out there, so if you’re part of a multi-disciplinary network, get in touch with the PhD Life blog to share your experience with others!
We are curious to know if there are any other multi-disciplinary networks out there: Are you a member or representative of one? What are the benefits and challenges that have come from joining such a space? Are you considering starting your own network and need advice? Have you found similar support outside of an official network? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
Christina Efthymiadou holds a Bachelor on Primary Education from The University of Thessaly (Greece), a MA on Intercultural Communication from the University of the West of England (Bristol) and is currently a PhD Researcher at the Centre for Applied Linguistic at the University of Warwick. Her current project examines the discursive construction of trust between business partners in cross-border collaboration settings. Since September 2016, Christina is the Warwick PhD representative of the Migration, Identity and Translation Network (MITN) which is a project supported by the Warwick-Monash Alliance. Her research interests cover the areas of professional discourse, trust, identity, interactional sociolinguistics.
Image: MITN photo, courtesy of Christina Efthymiadou. Taken in a one-day workshop on Discourses of Migration, 07/09/2017 at the University of Warwick, co-organised by MITN and Connecting Culture GRP. Shown in the top row from left to right: Jo Angouri (MITN), Anthony Soares, Anthonio Sousa Ribeiro, Paulo de Medeiros (CC GRP), Julia Utiger; and in the bottom row from left to right: Reem Doukmak, Christina Efthymiadou (MITN), Polina Mesinioti (MITN), Emanuelle Santos (CC GRP).