This newsletter feature was published in the Franklin Women newsletter in April 2015.
When I first started my blog, it was with the intention to record the progress of my PhD…and I guess that‟s exactly what it‟s turned out to be. However, my original intention was for it to be a record of ideas and experimental trouble-shooting, as opposed to a mish-mashed collection of emotionally charged self-reflective think-pieces and rants.
The blog evolved with my attitude as I realised that the PhD journey is as much about learning to deal with i) the academic environment and ii) yourself, as it is about learning your subject matter. Maybe even more so.
I post each of my pieces to Twitter and also Facebook. Interestingly, Facebook gets me a lot more views. Initially this disappointed me as I could see from the stats that the majority of views were actually coming from my grandparents. However, as my PhD progressed, I attended academic events and made more connections within my university. This led to me making new Facebook contacts (who were arguably my intended audience; PhD students, post-docs, sci-comm enthusiasts) who would like, comment on and even share my blog – because the material was so relevant to them. It all got very exciting. The same thing happened with Twitter; the more I tweeted about science, the more science followers I got and the more recognition my blog got.
Don't get me wrong, I‟m not really a big deal in the PhD-blog world, but it‟s amazing how it grew with me putting really quite minimal effort into promoting it. With my avid science tweeting and blog writing, I got a reputation with my peers (professional and un-professional) as being social media and sci-comm savvy (they said it, not me).
This led to me being invited to talk to high school students about science career pathways on multiple occasions (unpaid), manage the social media platforms for the inaugural EMBL Australia PhD Symposium (unpaid), write content for my institution‟s annual report and website (paid!), participate in the Science and Engineering Challenge (paid!), run kids‟ science parties (paid!) and spend the day with Dr Karl (unpaid…but who cares?!). Not all of these gigs might sound ideal, but for me, they have provided amazing learning opportunities, fun and (some) money.
Chloe Warren is a PhD student at the University of Newcastle in the area of Medical Genetics. She is also a passionate science communicator. You can see her do her thing on Twitter (@sciencechloe), on her blog, and at children’s science parties!