We finally organized the first social event for the FYS community since the pandemic started! It was a real pleasure to see you all networking, enjoying drinks and snacks at Bar Boele. The evening became even more ‘gezellig’ once we discovered that one of the PhD candidates had his birthday on that day. What a coincidence!!
We wish everyone a good start of the new academic year and we look forward to seeing you in the forthcoming FYS workshops. We have a lot of exciting workshops planned!
What is “imposter syndrome” and how does it impact you? These are the questions that attendants were asked at the beginning of the Imposter syndrome workshop provided by Ellis Vyth (Hertz).
“It is the feeling that ‘I don’t deserve it’.”
“I think my peers are smarter and more talented than me.”
“I don’t feel people’s compliments to me are genuine.”
“It demotivates me to do my work.”
After attendants shared their personal stories about “imposter syndrome”, trainer Ellies Vyth pointed out that imposter syndrome is very universal in academia among both male and female researchers. Therefore, don’t feel alone.
To beat the imposter syndrome, three main steps are suggested and practiced in an interactive way during the workshop: First, notice your success and ask/accept positive feedbacks; Second, stop comparing with peers and remember that each person has their own strengths and expertise; Third, speak out mid- or long-term dreams, name the potential barriers, and take small steps to achieve the goal.
As an academic, we all want to be productive and achieve results while enjoying what we do with a clear outlook on a purposeful and fulfilling career. However, the reality is often different, and too many of us are being hindered by the increasing amount of stress we experience.
We all know the feeling of being stressed and express it in a variety of different ways, yet not many of us know how to deal with and neutralize stress to ensure it doesn’t result in negative effects. This second session of ‘Recognising and Neutralizing Stress and Burnout’ with Claartje van Sijl touched on the topics of stress and burnout (or boreout), raising awareness about the different stages of stress and when they are a cause for concern. After providing an overview of the mechanisms behind stress, Claartje taught us practical skills on how to recognise our stress signals and consequently take action on to prevent and lower our stress levels.
We fully understand that these past couple of months have been extremely stressful for many, and want to point out that there are multiple sources of support available should you feel the need to speak to someone about what you have been feeling.
You can speak to your fellow PhD candidates/colleagues, they can often provide informal support and the mere sharing of how you feel can already feel like a huge relief.
Discuss your feelings and needs with your surpervisor so that they can support you through the process.
If you would like to talk to someone outside of your department yet still within the VU, you can contact the Studentenombudsman; Lies (E.J.) Poesiat. Email: email@example.com. Phone: 020 598 5313.
You can also contact the HSE Front Office to arrange seeing a social worker, the company Dr. or a Psychologist. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 020 59 89008.
Lastly, you can also go to your GP (huisarts) should you wish to speak with someone not affiliated to the VU.
If you need further help or guidance, please don’t hesitate to contact us as well via email@example.com.
Being a researcher can be very stressful nowadays: you have to conduct high-level scientific research in a given time, as well as writing academic papers, dealing with one ore more supervisors, having to teach courses, just to name a few tasks. Throughout this intense journey, you may have learned to develop tools to handle the associated pressure, but at times the stress seems to reach levels that do not allow you to work properly. Maybe you begin having trouble sleeping or perhaps you start feeling physical pain. These are important signs of stress and there are simple techniques that we can use to prevent it.
In the interactive workshop ‘Recognizing and neutralizing stress and burnout’, Claartje van Sijl created awareness of these personal stress factors that can vary between each person. She also showed us practical resources to help us regain a better balance. The workshop focused on three main elements: stress and burnout prevention, recognition of burnout and, finally, information on what to do in case you are facing burnout in your personal work environment.
Having the feeling that we don’t belong to a group or that we don’t deserve our success is unfortunately common in academia. Talking openly about this make can make us realize that we all face the same challenges, which already tell us how weak the fundamentals of this concept are – there is then no point of “disregarding our work” or “constantly compare it with others”. In this workshop, Ellis Vyth from Bhertz explained what the imposter syndrome is, how it can affect us and what strategies can be adopted to tackle it.
During this workshop participants interactively learned to take ownership of their success, embrace compliments and identify their qualities. In a first activity participants were asked to share a story and complement each other. Understanding what our ambitions and dreams are can help us find our place in the ‘now’ and pave our way forward. So, in a second exercise participants shared their future projects. The group had deep conversations and people were actively engaged in the activities!
Many PhD-students and postdocs experience difficulties in maintaining a balance between all the different projects and tasks they have. This is not to mention the difficult balance between work and private life. It is all about making the right decisions, but these are often not very clear and are always very personal. In this workshop Ellis worked with us on deciding on the tasks to definitely pursue and those that could be discarded. We practiced different ways of convincing our colleagues and supervisors and learned to say no in an effective and friendly way.
Reading ten papers a day, planning your academic career and looking for meaning and happiness in your research and not to forget the endless writing… On top, you’re not making the most out of it when you don’t have a relationship, found a grown up apartment without filthy flatmates and party as much as you can while you’re at it. As millennial, life is often just thrown upon you with numerous, paralyzing choices. And before you know it, you get burnt out. But when do you know when you have it? In this workshop we learned how to prevent a burn-out and how to stay energized throughout our careers.