Graduate School Afterlife

The first thing I learned after I finish my doctoral study is: life as a phd student is somehow “better” than the afterlife. So like this post says: take your time doing the graduate study, do not graduate too soon 😀

Right after I graduate, I have to accept the reality that:

  1. No more scholarship so I have to work to earn money (I used to work when I was a phd student, but the pressure was not this much, heheh)
  2. No more status, so I practically become nobody
  3. No more deadlines, so I become jobless and have to create my own roadmap in a higher level: a roadmap of life
  4. Since still do not have affiliations, I realize that I cannot apply for a grant and write publications without docking to other people’s system
  5. I cannot use “really busy doing my phd research” as an excuse of my lunatic behaviour or to turn down unwanted offerings anymore
  6. Mother sets a super high expectation like I’m supposed to be hired with high salary, and get full accommodation like a car with a driver, hahaha
  7. The research I have been doing for years cannot be implemented right away. Mostly I have to do other things, other topics.
  8. The most unexpected thing yet the best thing is: some people interested in my phd thesis and willing to continue the research. The good thing is: I now have more allies to do the research, and I’m so happy that some of them find me through the internet and read my publications. The “bad” thing is: I have to answer their questions and explain everything like going through my defense all over again, and this really makes me nervous what if there is a flaw in my phd thesis 😀

So to survive in this cruel afterlife, here are things that I do:

  1. Looking for my own niche (still not find any yet) and find ways to use my skill (if there is any) to contribute to the universe (whichever universe)
  2. Continuing research, in every way possible
  3. Keep producing publications, including blog posts 😀
  4. Maintaining and expanding research group
  5. Accepting that sooner or later I have to let other people continue my phd thesis, and let my work re-tested and re-analysed, to give it more solid ground, and make me more confident that years of research is not for some bullshit and nonsense 🙂

I start to sound very much like cryptocodecg, maybe I should have posted this to the other blog 🙂

Tips for Defense

In contrary with tips for public defense I wrote yesterday, preparation and tips for defense is different due to the different “nature” of the defense. I’m going to share some points to be remembered, that hopefully would make you survive the hardest stage of the phd study.

  1. The first thing you have to keep in mind is: the worst time in your phd saga is the defense. So no matter how hard you work to prepare it, no matter how good your presentation is, no matter how many “weapons” you bring there or how ready you are, you should be prepared for the worst. Because the defense is designed to “demolish” you.
  2. Defense is when you should bring your “light saber” and defend your thesis with all the “skill” and “power” you have developed during the study. You will get bruises and scars and most of them will stay permanently, but you have no choice but to fight back.
  3. The picture above is how I describe what you will face at the defense. I’m explaining it in my field of expertise: some cryptography, some math, some digital design, and some security. The questions will be given will be those green corner: the hardest, the most specific, the most unthinkable question in the field. Or the pink area: the unpredictable questions from unanticipated topics like: social, governmental policy, psychology, or maybe material physics, etc.
  4. If you stance is defending, the opponents stance is to test your thesis and attack it from all directions. And see how you defend it. They are going to confuse you, turn all of your logics upside down, twist your mind, makes you doubt everything you have done, questioning things that were so clear for you into obscurity and at the end will leave you crushed mentally, intellectually and physically drained. All defense would end like this. End with you are thinking that you will fail and won’t be able to proceed to the next stage.
  5. But if you finally allowed to proceed (to the next level), that means you already reach the level of phd-ness that will bring you to the public defense. Now you have the sufficient “toughness” and “strength” to tell the world and defend your work. You are ready to be born to be a new researcher and thus you should feel that you have been paid off well enough for what you’ve been through.

Tips for Public Defense

Here are the things to keep in mind:

  1. The defense might have left deep scars and low self-esteem which are very destructive for your performance on public defense. All you have to do is stop thinking, activate your reactive mode, and deal with it spontaneously.
  2. You’ve gotten through the worst, so public defense will not hurt you worse than what you had.
  3. You are the only person who understands the topic, so basically you can handle almost any questions on public defense. Unlike the defense, the questions given would be the ones you can answer, or, if you cannot, nobody would understand anyway (not because they’re stupid, but the way the presentation given and the time limit would make it too difficult for most of the people to digest), and the opponent are not allowed to debate or asking you more questions based on the questions you just answered so you can just say “anything” 🙂 (what I mean by “anything” is not just anything. If you have come this far, by surviving the defense, then the “anything” come out from you would be something proper that should come out from a phd. Not just a random stupid ramblings.)
  4. For each question, listen carefully, write it down, be calm and you
    can steal some time to think
    by carefully and slowly addressing the people who ask it, and the re-read the question before answering it.
  5. You should have really good slides and supplement-slides that can answer and explain any questions (that you think will be asked).
  6. My professor said: on public defense, you are not supposed to be in defense mode. You are in a storytelling mode (but you don’t have to make everybody understand everything, though). You can get back in defense mode on when aswering questions.
  7. One of my friend said: a researcher has to be “cool”. You have to keep yourself calm, cool and collected. Don’t show too much emotions. You should be a researcher that telling the world about the result of your research, laying out the facts and analysis without being too loud telling that “THIS IS MY WORK, AND IT’S BRILLIANT”.
  8. This tips is supposed to lift up your wrecked your self-confidence, and intent to make you relax so you can let your full-of-bruises braincell to get some fresh air to recover.

*Notes: The tips might only useful for phd students in Indonesia, especially ITB. The tips for public defense is totally different with those for defense or any “regular” presentations during phd years. I’m going to add more tips when I get new ones.