What you should get from your supervisor

Your advisor has probably been in the science business for some time. At least in you early days, your supervisor's hunches will be better than yours, so it makes sense to listen to advice. A good supervisor should teach you how to work with rigor and method (preferably by example), where to find the resources you need, which meetings or courses could be useful to you, and, later on, give advice on the best way to plan your thesis and apply for jobs. These are your practical needs, but just as importantly, by running the lab with energy and enthusiasm, your supervisor should welcome you into an environment where your research can prosper. It should be in their interest to give you support and encouragement when things are moving slowly, and a word in your ear if you become idle or complacent.

With so many variables to consider, much of what it takes for a happy collaboration boils down to common sense coupled to a bit of diplomacy. You may already have experience of mentorship during your undergraduate project or during summer lab placements and have since evolved personal strategies against nagging or demanding tutors. Whatever happens, remember that learning how to communicate with colleagues is as important a part of your PhD as the science!

Keep in mind, especially in those vulnerable moments, that you are here as an apprentice, and that your personal and professional progress relies as much on an understanding and enjoyment of the means of discovery, as your final accomplishment.