Of course, I offered some advice about getting the most out of your supervisor and about having a good plan of your time. But I guess there were a few other things I should probably have told them.
Like the famous “your writing gets better after a while” myth. That’s a good one. The real reason your papers and thesis chapters will have less red scribble on the toward the end is this: your supervisor was getting down to the end of the bottle of red it took him to actually face reading your horrendous grammatically incorrect and non-accessible writing.
Perhaps I should have puffed myself up until I was red in the face by screaming “Go and get a real job NOW if that’s all you’re going to do afterward – why are you surviving on such terrible money for four years when you could have a career!?” I assume, though, that they were aware of that one already.
When I was asked “Looking back, was there anything you would have done differently?” I genuinely groaned at the predictability of the question. I only hope that guy was more creative in his research than his networking skills.
There are no simple solutions. It’s your own journey, in your own time. Hell, it’s your own life! If you take six years to finish a three year degree there is nothing I can tell you at this point that will stop that from happening.
After a quick reminder to self not to volunteer for these things in the future for fear of completely demotivating the next generation of scientists, I felt compelled to go and have a haircut and a girly happy hour cocktail to wipe the experience from my memory.