It is almost a year since I started minaywa.com and for the past year, I talked a lot about the project. So in honour of hitting the one year mark, I decided to do this post to share my overall experience and what I should have done better.
So you get the title for the project or it is given to you what next? One thing I feel people don’t realize is how expensive projects can be. In the civil department, they tend to reject those projects that cost more than sh 20,000 but let us be honest some still go overboard depending on what you are doing. Sometimes you might also pick an experimental one which limits you to working in the laboratory and can be cheaper but you find that the labs are ill-equipped and you have to work elsewhere which will cost you. Speaking of this I think I forgot to pick my spade. The first thing I will say is to ensure you can finance the project and if happens to be too much look for an alternative.
Once the title has been approved you are given a supervisor. I think student-supervisor relationships vary and you will have to figure out a work ethic that will favour both of you. Some supervisors will not look for you, so you will have to make phone calls and plan for meetings. Some will never give you a direct answer like if you face a challenge in the research they will want you to present what you feel should be the way forward first. Others just want you to constantly see them and feel like you are pushing them and not vice versa. I think for the first few months I was so scared of my supervisor; I could see an email and just freak out or a phone call and stop everything I was doing but I adjusted with time. Another thing is I realized that sometimes they have so much to do and will need to constantly be reminded did you read that or you didn’t send the corrections something like that which I wish I did more.
You will never have it all figured out. I had all these plans, by the end of this week I should have done one, two-three but that was never the case. I think it reached a point there were so many issues I was constantly in offices wondering if I will ever finish or can I just pack my things and go work in another lab. As much as it is important to have a plan it is equally important to be flexible. You will also learn along the way. When you get a project you know the theoretical part but now you have to build something and trust me you will be online searching for how to videos among other tutorials.
You cannot compare yourself with your classmate. This point bugged me a lot mainly because lecturers were putting us on the same playing field. If someone is doing the design of a bridge, for example, they will maybe do a survey and work on the laptop. If I am doing something experimental I need to work in the lab it has to be opened and someone has to be supervising. So if we are both given two months clearly the one working on the laptop had more time this was evident during the strike and then once we open we are to present progress. I remember such a scenario and the person in charge told me you are so behind and you are being a bad example as a leader as if I had not been to offices appealing for the lab to be open I have never been so furious. At this point, I was so frustrated and now someone else is trying to push me into a hole. Anyway, that aside I just feel that sometimes the lecturers who end up being the panel during presentations should appreciate the progress people make and be more understanding. Work within the given time but don’t make it a competition of who finishes first.
Finally, you can get lonely. Yes, I know it sounds weird but most projects are individual or sometimes done in pairs, you all have different topics and when you get frustrated people might not know let alone understand. People tend to keep to themselves and I get that. I was always ranting to my friends who are in other schools just because it was not their world. My project gave me sleepless nights and I think there was a point I was so frustrated that I cried (imagine). I seem to have a lot to say about this but for now, I will leave it here. If you have any questions you can leave it in the comment section.
The girl with the red lipstick.