Lena has just shown me her beautiful LaTeX thesis template, complete with chapter headings. Populating it with text and results isn’t so exciting so instead she is beginning to consider:
How should I celebrate my PhD defence?
Once all the hard work of writing your thesis is done, you’re left with one task that may fall completely outside your experience – organising your defence celebrations! Congratulations!
You didn’t tell me which country you work in when you messaged so I took the liberty of convening a planning committee of EGU geodynamics blog writers to help you develop a strategy. Based on our extensive collective international party experience, there seem to be three factors to consider.
Firstly, how much do you like your supervisor and committee? Will you invite them to anything more than a quick post-viva apéro or coffee? If they’re coming to the after-party, maybe you need to keep it clean. But supervisors are human too (even the Sassy Scientist!) and sometimes need to let their hair down. Plus, taking your supervisor to that terrible basement club with the mirror walls will reveal a whole new side, and possibly provide useful future blackmail material.
Another major cultural split that emerged was whether PhD celebrations are public or private events. Are you expected to host the whole department or is a quiet celebration with family and friends more your style? Hopefully by the time you’re organising your party, many of your department will also be your friends, but even The Sassy Scientist recognises that you might not want me to meet your mother. You don’t want me to suddenly remember about that time we went to EGU together…
The final consideration seems to be financial. A quick beer then a dodgy nightclub is definitely the cheapest option, but several universities in my unscientific survey expect all day events to rival a wedding in scale. This is rather a stretch for a potentially unemployed PhD student, but before writing off the idea entirely, it might be worth remembering how much free beer you’ve drunk at other people’s parties, before breaking from tradition entirely!
I hope that gives you some starting points. Remember, whilst a party might be the subject of the ultimate peer review process, it’s hardly career defining.
The Sassy Scientist
PS: Never underestimate the career benefits of taking your supervisor to a party. It might be the only party they’ve been to in a decade.