Case study

PhD student — Tina Kramarić

Having graduated with a first class honours degree in zoology, Tina has now started a PhD. Discover more about her future career plans and her top tips for choosing a postgraduate course

What degree did you study?

I graduated with an MBiol Zoology in 2021 from Aberystwyth University.

What are you studying now?

I am now a PhD student at Aberystwyth University in collaboration with Birmingham hospital. I'm working on using biomarkers for early detection of lung cancer and to track changes in the body after therapy.

How relevant is your degree?

My zoology degree is more relevant than I thought it would be as we studied lab procedures and general biology as well as animal-specific modules. This has proved very useful in my PhD work. The research and writing skills I developed during my degree have also been very helpful.

What does your course involve?

My course mostly involves me working with clinicians while designing experiments, which I then carry out and write up.

What do you enjoy most about your course?

I really enjoy the freedom that I have with the project, and the array of collaborators that our group has.

What are the challenges?

Doing a PhD is hard work and things often don't go as planned, so it is best to be ready to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.

What career do you plan to go into?

I plan on going into clinical research and while a PhD is not necessary per se for this career, it does give you a lot more experience as well as an opportunity to make many connections in the clinical world that you might need one day.

What are your top tips for choosing a Masters course?

Be sure about what interests you, at least in general if not specifically. Don't go looking through the studentships for things that 'sound cool'. Although something may sound cool, will it help with the career you want and are you prepared to study it for three years?

Also, read your potential supervisor's publications to see what their research group does and don't be afraid to email them or even ask for an online meeting.

The last thing is to just be yourself and show your enthusiasm for doing a PhD and learning. The willingness to learn new skills goes a long way.

Do you also need work experience?

Work experience always helps and is a bonus but it is not a 'make it or break it' factor as you learn how to do most things during your PhD.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I hope to either be on a graduate medicine course or continuing my work with a research team in London, either in industry or academia.

What advice can you give to others?

  • Don't stress too much about specialising in a specific field as this will come as you learn and discover things about yourself.
  • While a PhD is rewarding, it is not for everyone and you should have a solid reason to want it other than wanting to be called 'doctor'.
  • The most important thing I've learned is that your life is not over if you're not working in your dream job and earning a lot by the age of 25. Everyone's path is different and it's okay if it takes you a bit longer to find yourself and what you want to do. You have your whole life ahead of you and it goes beyond your twenties.

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