Close up of a gloved hand and some petri dishes

It can be hard to meet new people as a PhD student. A PhD student share their tips to make it easier.

I’m a third year PhD student at the University of Portsmouth! In this blog, I’m going to talk about socialising opportunities available for PhD students inside and outside the university.

I’m going to talk about the socialising opportunities inside the university first. The people you see the most during your PhD are people in your office. At the University of Portsmouth, PhD students are usually allocated a desk and PC in a PhD office. It is mainly a place to do some work but people in the office often have lunch or coffee together or hang out together after work and on the weekend.

Another way to meet new people is to join events organised by the school or the university. In my building, we have the Journal Club meeting twice a month and everyone in the building can join.

It is a good opportunity to meet people that you don’t work with or don’t share the office with.

PhD Student, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences

The University also organises some events for PhD students. You can meet people from different departments there. For example, the graduate school offers workshops or writing retreats for research students throughout the year. You can join them not only to meet new people but also to improve your skills and knowledge.

Just like undergraduate and master’s students, you can also join societies, but you will need to manage your time well. I joined a music society to play an instrument in a band last year. It was a good opportunity for me to relax and interact with people who know nothing about my work or research because talking or thinking about work all the time can be too much.

Outside the university, going to a conference is a good opportunity to meet people. As a PhD student, you will probably go to at least one conference and they usually have an event for young researchers like PhD students or postdocs - postdoctoral researchers - to make connections. I have been to two international conferences and I have met PhD students and postdocs from a lot of different countries. It’s very inspiring to meet people working in a different environment and talk about research. I usually follow people I meet in conferences on LinkedIn so that I can see when they progress in their research or career and it motivates me to keep going.

There are a lot of opportunities for PhD students to socialise inside and outside of the university if you actively look for it. It’s very important during your PhD that you have a good social network because it can get quite lonely otherwise.

I hope this blog is helpful for those who need some ideas to meet new people or who want to know what it is like to do a PhD!

PhD Student, School of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences