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Is there really no such thing as a free lunch

The PhD/student life is one which brings out the thrift in most of us. It is a life which is marked by the uncanny ability to identify which seminars cater, where to find the coffee stash and the skilful art of getting your boss to shout the first round of beers at a conference! These skills develop out of necessity and the harsh reality that despite the hours of hard ‘work’ you put in it’s actually the cash from your second job that you live off! Courses and conferences don’t come cheap however if you look closely enough there are actually a lot of learning opportunities which are in fact free…

  • Institutional seminars – keep an eye on your inbox as a huge number of seminars and training courses are circulated via email. While not all of these invites will be directly relevant to your area of research take a moment to think outside the box and you may be presently surprised to find that there are a lot of common threads and issues in the research world and there is actually a lot that you can learn, contribute and apply just by attending.

  • The library - with the majority of journals and databases now available online the days of trolling the shelves of the musty library are now few and far between. However, there are a lot of friendly and very knowledge folk hidden away in the library and if you schedule the time to walk through its doors an array of workshops and training opportunities await (e.g. database searching, reference management systems)!

  • Open online courses – Check out FutureLearn where you can browse a diverse selection of free courses delivered by reputable universities and institutions. Perhaps you would like to know how to succeed at interviews, improve your critical thinking skills or dabble in a bit of Dutch? There are courses a plenty across a huge variety of fields including law, business and management, literature, nature, science, maths and politics (the list goes on)…. I am sure you will find a course of two that takes your fancy!

There are heaps of learning opportunities on offer if we just keep an eye out, our ears open and our minds unbarred. Please feel free to share any other webinars, courses or training programs that you are attending or have attended and found to be helpful as I am sure there will be lots of other grateful souls out there.