A day in the life of a postgraduate student representative

11 Jul 2022

By Patrick Ballantyne, outgoing Postgraduate Student Representative

Three years ago, I attended my first ever (virtual) QMRG AGM, daunted at the prospect of sitting on a Zoom call with unfamiliar, yet highly established academics in my field. I did not know what to expect, but I was curious to see what opportunities could arise from sitting in the meeting, manifesting in a formal committee position as a postgraduate representative. Three years on I thought it would be fun to reflect on my time on the committee, hopefully inspiring someone new to take up this exciting post.

I think perhaps the best thing I got out of it this position was in widening my academic network. Establishing informal connections with other committee members has presented me with many friendly faces to approach at conferences and events, something I have benefitted greatly from as a PhD student looking to carve out my network. In addition, new opportunities for collaboration have arisen, notably when setting up a panel session at the RGS mid-term conference with my fellow representative Rachael Sanderson, and a subsequent written reflective piece written with nine other quantitative geographers.

What is expected? In my opinion, that’s up to you really. Formally, meetings occur every four to six weeks, with generally very little contribution ever needed from the postgraduate representatives. However, sitting on the committee provides you with a wider pool of expertise from which to benefit from as an early-career researcher. For instance, I have been able to avail from a wider range of opinions on journal choices with my own publications than just those from my supervisory teams, and had a raised social media profile through engagement and interactions with committee members, and subsequently their networks. I am also able to raise specific issues that affect PhD students and know that the committee will listen to make sure what we do is inclusive to the unique needs of PhD students.

It would be great to see someone take up this role, the QMRG are a friendly bunch and I’m sure they will be delighted to hear from you. If you have any questions about the role and what it entails, drop me an email (P.Ballantyne@liverpool.ac.uk).