Recent events have made me consider that maybe accepting some professional help isn’t such a bad idea to help with stress management. CompanyManager has indicated that for such things VagueCompany can arrange for a coach to help you. Yes, there is also a psychologist, but what I would prefer in that case is a behavioural therapist. So, would a coach be really the direction to go? Also, are they bound to not tell CompanyManager anything? Because obviously this works better if there aren’t too many inhibitions when trying to formulate my thoughts on stress management, and stress-factors.

Still debating these factors, while at the same time trying to not stress out too much about it. It seems somewhat silly to get stress out about somebody helping you with stress management. It probably also means that it’s time to get help :)

One of my co-workers recently inquired into the planning of my PhD and actually gasped when I answered no the question inquiring whether I was writing already.

FSP style, this conversation went something along the lines of:

CW: So when does your contract end?

FAW: End of october, why?

CW: So you’re already writing, yes?

FAW: Well, that depends on what you mean. If you mean the actual thesis, then no.

CW: GASP. But then when do you plan to defend? Not in october, no?

FAW: Well, no. Besides I already have 8 publications and I’m busy with a journal paper.

CW: So who are your supervisors?

FAW: CompanySupervisor2 and UniversitySupervisor.

CW: You don’t mind me asking, do you?

FAW: Well, today is really not a good day to discuss this, no.

He seems to have gotten the idea that the PhD students in our group can use some of his advice and time, but frankly most of the time all he does is waste my time because he likes to phrase things in very roundabout ways and “provocative comments”. The conversation was quite ludicrous, but alarmed me enough to warn CompanySupervisor2 of its occurrence – forewarned is forearmed, right?

When CS2 suggested that maybe I did prefer CW, I threatened to withhold the chocolate I bought for her birthday. I think that conveyed my sentiments most appropriately.

Or what to do when you co-supervise? I’m used to my students being co-supervised by somebody from the university, but not that somebody from Vague Company is actually sitting in on the meetings and tries to push through their own agenda.

Really, what we planned to do was to discuss this beforehand. Obviously, both of us miserably failed to remember this, which may have resulted in a confused student. Maybe the confusion was good for his soul, but it didn’t really convince me.

We’ve now hashed out which is who’s responsabilities and who should say something when, but bringing this to the meeting table might require more practice than a 20 minute discussion. I understand my co-worker wants to be closely involved, the student is working for his project after all. On the other hand, if I have to stop him from starting to write out my student’s problem statement something hasn’t been communicated well. Indications for important on content, yes. Brainstorming for topics, yes. Actual writing out? No, that’s the student’s responsability as far as I am concerned. How will you learn to take your own notes from a meeting when you can assume somebody else will do that and actually email you the results? Students should learn to bring their own external memory.

Likewise, my co-worker has a number of side-deliverables he wants to see – but how crucial they are and how feasable is entirely unclear right now. I’d rather the student planned for the main focus first, and then take a look at how / whether to achieve those other deliverables. I wonder what other people’s take on student responsability and co-supervision are?

I heard through my ComnpanySupervisor that CompanyManager apparently has a rather skewed image of me, which seems to be largely non-Company, which doesn’t bode so well really for our future relations. The problem is that he has never really shown any of this to me, so I couldn’t really try to rectify this through actions (since that would probably be best). So, how now to proceed?

Part of the problem is the financing of PhDs within the Company: they’ve hit on a new scheme (again) and that always makes it harder to place the longer-busy PhDs somewhere appropriate. In terms of “So, to which project can I give a valuable contribution?” especially, since that’s certainly expected. The biggest problems arise when the project you started working in is all of a sudden quit – but your PhD isn’t finished yet, or you’re still doing a more fundamental part and at the moment can’t show anything concrete? Apart from publications in peer-reviewed conferences, obviously.

Part of the problem is that CompanyManager and I have a very different background and that means that things can get messy in complicated in the translation. According to him, I should have more peer-reviewed journal articles by now, but I have at least 6 peer-reviewed conference articles, in highly-regarded conferences. I guess I really need an impact factor for conferences also, maybe. Also, I probably was a bit more vocal when he couldn’t use it, and/or took some things I wanted to discuss more personal than I intended them. Meaning he might now see me as more of a jammer than a valuable employee… All of this is obviously conjecture on my side, since although CompanySupervisor told me some of what he said, I can hardly go and ask CompanyManager since he would probably deny most of it.

The end-result at the moment is that I’ll have to spend more time at the Company rather than the University (4:1), and show as much goodwill as possible while remaining myself. Also, refrain from making comments during meetings, even if I am really rather puzzled by the hows and the whys of the management-goingson at the moment. Meh.