“When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.”
-Dory, Finding Nemo (2003)-
Almost three months ago, I promised you that I will tell you a story about how I can get a Ph.D studentship in one of the the best wireless communication research groups in the world. Southampton Wireless Group, under the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, is managed by one of the top researchers in Wireless Communication and also my primary Ph.D supervisor, Prof. Lajos Hanzo. At the time I write this article, his works have been cited more than 23,000 times. Yes, I’m not kidding, twenty three thousands times. You can check his google scholar profile here: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=p0jnEW0AAAAJ. My secondary supervisor is also awesome, Dr. Soon Xin Ng (Michael). His works have been cited more than 2,400 times. You can also check his google scholar profile here: https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=EqwQL50AAAAJ
You may wonder, “what is your reason to write those things in the first place?” For you who actually want to study abroad at the top university, you have to start thinking that you may face extraordinary researchers. For a Ph.D applicant, the hardest part is you have to persuade them that you are worth it to be a Ph.D student under their supervisions. Don’t be scared, you should be motivated! So, here’s my story… 😉
Everything was begun when I was doing my master’s dissertation. The most important step that every master’s student through during their master’s dissertation writing is literature review. By reviewing a lot of journal papers, conference papers, books, you may encounter a name that very often appears as author/co-author on those books and papers. In my case, you know whose name it is. I’ve told you in the previous paragraph 🙂 If a name is very often appears on your literature review that can be a significant sign that you and this person are working on a very similar field, and I can guarantee you, he/she has more experiences and expertise in the research field (compared to you).
FIRST, FIND YOUR FUTURE SUPERVISORS!
I write it in plural because I think it’s better that you have a backup plan in case you can’t get through on your first priority prospective supervisor.
SECOND, BE PREPARED.
Prepared on everything. Literally. Your English proficiency certificate, your CV, example(s) of your work, your bachelor’s/master’s dissertation, everything. You may want to have a draft of research proposal, and I will tell you why this thing is important in the next section. Please, please, and please do me a favour by exploring the application procedure and requirement for each country, each university, and each programme because they may vary, especially for Ph.D study. For example, in my case, I have the obligation to have IELTS score, because it’s not only a requirement from the university but also from UK Visa and Immigration. Ensure you have a professional simple CV to send to your prospective supervisor and if you have a published paper, it will be an advantageous point for you.
THIRD, GO GET YOUR DREAM.
Now, you have everything, you can go on. What I did first, when I have had everything I needed, I sent an email to my prospective supervisor. In the email body, I introduce myself, who I am, what my motivation is, how I know his research group and research project. You may want to try the same thing, but don’t forget to attach your CV, example of your published paper (if applicable), and/or the full version of your bachelor’s/master’s dissertation in English. For the dissertation, I don’t think is very important, because I didn’t attach it (because it’s in Bahasa Indonesia). My friend in this research group did send his master’s dissertation and it was written Greek, and some of my Indonesian friends sent only the English abstract. So, I assume that the important parts are the email body, the CV, and example of your published papers/works. Based on my experience, I didn’t take a very long time for the prospective supervisor to respond your email. In my case, it was less than one week after I sent my email. In his email, my prospective supervisor asked me to prepare three things: a presentation of my published paper, a critical review of one of his paper, and a simple research plan, and we are going to have a video call for interview when I’m ready. It was very overwhelming for me! The reasons are: I didn’t have any research plan yet at that very moment and a critical review of his paper at that moment is like practically impossible thing fro me to do (his works are excellent!). But, I finally managed all of them in one week! (yeay!). Long story short, I got that interview for ninety minutes on video call. Personally, I felt that it was an extremely terrible interview. I was so nervous and so exciting at the same time because I really wanted this position. At the end of interview, Prof. Hanzo gave me a compliment and an encouragement, although I thought it was a nightmare (Thank you very much, Prof!) and he also advised me to go to the university online application and put his name at the proposed supervisor column. After following his advises, two weeks later, I got my Unconditional Offer from University of Southampton!!! :”) It also stated that I will do my research in Quantum Information and Communication under the supervision of Prof. Lajos Hanzo and Dr. Soon Xin Ng (Michael). :”) So, that’s my story, how finally I got my Ph.D studentship in Southampton Wireless Group. I’m very grateful because I got the position by using only single shot.
That’s all for this time. For you whom may still be looking for Ph.D studentship, I wish you a good luck. The keys are well-prepared and well-preserved, and after that everything will be just fine.
“Dying people lie too. Wish they’d worked less, been nicer, opened orphanages for kittens. If you really want to do something, you do it. You don’t save it for a sound bite.”
-Gregory House, House M.D.-