#N4L: Alex W Says…

-part of the N4L Series; celebrating Learning at Work Week-

It’s my great pleasure to introduce Alex Waterworth…

About Alex

I am currently about to finish my Ph.D. at Royal Holloway, University of London studying low temperature physics. Once finished I will be a Project Engineer at Cryogenic Ltd.

Alex on LinkedIn

What networked for learning means to me

To me networked for learning means using a network of contacts you have built to aide in your learning and theirs.

I feel it can come with the negative connotation of just befriending people for your advantage but I have generally found it mutually beneficial.

I say this because there are three roles you take on; firstly you could be approaching someone more experienced than you.  This is the scenario whereby the most negativity might come because it will more likely to be one-sided.  However, occasionally the problem or advice you are asking them for will be something they themselves may not have considered.

Secondly, there is approaching a peer, with a similar level of experience to you but in a different field.  This nearly always results in a deep discussion which leads to both parties learning how to look at a problem from a completely different perspective.

Finally, there is the possibility you could be approached by someone less experienced that you.  I always find this an ego booster and want to help them as much as possible.  I do not always learn from it but the moral boost has always re-motivated me in my current work.

The main insight I can give is that most people enjoy talking about problems and giving advice so do not be afraid to ask, and chances are in the future people will be asking you.  So, keep a broad network and you will always have help and opportunities to learn.

My personal learning insights

As I am currently writing my PhD thesis I have come across an number of stumbling blocks to me finishing and numerous people within my network have helped me both professionally and personally.

An example that sticks out in my mind relates to my predecessor, who graduated just after I had started.  I think a lot of students would not have stayed in contact with the student who preceded them.  I, on the other hand, thought it would be best to keep in touch, due to his direct experience in what I was doing.

He was incredibly helpful in explaining how to deal with the stress of writing, giving a lot of advice on how best to cope.  Not only did this help with the stress, I believe it has made my thesis better and has given me skills for dealing with a high work load.

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