You are in a important phase of your education and you should take the most from your thesis instead of having your thesis taking the most from you. As you are reading these lines you are probably shopping around for a thesis or internship but you have no clear idea on what to do. If this is the case these are my 2 cents on the topic, with the hope that it will help you moving forward.

Let’s start from a step back. Instead of start from a research topic, ask yourself the following question:

“What would you like to do when you will grow up?”

Is a difficult question and you have infinite possibilities but let’s simplify it and consider the following 3 categories:

  • (i) Are you planning to look for a job in a company?
  • (ii) Would you like to become an entrepreneur and start your own company?
  • (iii) Are you consider an academic career?

The idea is that you will tune the thesis for your objectives and you will use it for helping you in advancing your goals.

Start a Thesis
Take the Most from Your Thesis

Let’s consider the first case (i). If you would like to join a company, your first priority should not be the thesis itself but finding a proper and relevant internship. The thesis will be part of the internship itself and you will discuss it with both your supervisor and your mentor at the company that will offer you the internship. Whatever you are planning now is not relevant as your mentor will have his/her opinions and your work should be integrated in their activities.

At the same time, your thesis will be an opportunity for “putting a foot into the door”, test the working environment, understand if this is what you really want to do for the next years and, obviously, prove yourself as a valuable asset for the company.

Once you will graduate, if you decide for a different company, this experience will be valuable and your CV will have something that will help you stand from the crowd.

In the case you would like to become an entrepreneur (case ii), you want to first join an incubator and/or a business network meet, your new friends and colleagues and, only after, seek for an entrepreneurial supervisor that is willing to discuss a possible thesis that can help you validate/disqualify some of your entrepreneurial ideas. Instead of focusing to writing a sound proposal you should focus on identify your “target professor” as early as possible and involve him/her in a discussion that will lead to your research proposal.  An internship is “neutral”; some may help you acquire new skills but at the same time you will be working at someone else projects and you will spend your time not focusing in finding your own path.

Finally, in the case of an academic career (iii), your goal should be to pursue a PhD; anything that you will be doing before joining a PhD program will not be really relevant for your future academic career. Consequently, all your activities should be focusing in “getting points” for being accepted in one. Your thesis can help you in that more than you think. An easy way to stand out from the crowd is understanding the scientific method and make a thesis that has potential for been published in a scientific journal. In choosing your supervisor, you want to focus on one that is currently doing research in an area that you believe is interesting and you can potentially picture yourself investigating it for the next 3-4 years.

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Once what you want to do when you will grow up is clear you will find that to take the most from your thesis is relatively easy to achieve. You should also be ready to have a constructive discussion with your potential supervisor and you can choose the one that is more compatible with your character and what you would like to do in the future.

Yes, I said “compatible with your character”; in the end, both students and professors are human beings and do what they do following “their own style”: you want to be sure that you are compatible otherwise, you risk to waste time that you can spend somewhere else.

In case you are considering me as a possible mentor for your thesis I invite you to read this post first.

This article ( Take the Most from Your Thesis ) is part of the miniseries on how to do a good thesis, you can see the full list of post at the following links:

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