It was late January when I got a letter from Oxford telling me I’d been successful in securing an interview at the department, which had been scheduled for the following week. I was told to prepare a 5-minute presentation, and the letter also detailed which professors would be sitting on the interview panel. I hurried to look into them. I scrubbed up my subject knowledge, read the last few papers from the lab’s I’d applied to and made and rehearsed my presentation. I manifested why I wanted the position, and what made me a good applicant.
The interview day was pleasant – free sandwiches and coffee! The panel interview was formal and polite, I was made to feel at ease – something I hadn’t been made to feel in an interview before. I also got a tour of the building and an opportunity to meet the lab group’s I’d applied to. I really enjoyed meeting them and could only dream of working there. I settled in for a suspenseful period awaiting the results.
Surprisingly, I only had to wait a week until my acceptance email from the head of graduate studies came through in early February, congratulating me on my achievement and asking my lab group preference. They told me I had secured a place in either of the two labs I’d applied to, with a full scholarship. I remember distinctly – I was in the lab, scanning plates with influenza plaques on, lazily listening to music as it is mindless work. When the notification came up on my screen, I bolted from the lab to read it. I couldn’t believe I’d got in, and with a scholarship, – I must have read it 10 times to check! I instantly called family members with the good news. It took another week or so until the formal letter came through, detailing my scholarship, with contracts to sign.
The rest of the process was all paperwork. The department accepted me before the College did, so I awaited my College acceptance letter and then it was back and forth of signing contracts, scanning transcripts, right to work documents and so on.