Elisa's tips for a smooth defense day

Elisa defended her doctoral Thesis entitled: ”Trauma-Informed Care for injuries after Intimate Partner Violence” on the 27th of May. The dissertation was held at the main auditorium of Töölö Hospital. As she later described the defense day as one of the most memorable days of her life, we asked her to share her tips for the all those PhDs still working towards this goal.

  1. Choose your opponent wisely: Actually, the credit of choosing prof. Joonas Sirola as my opponent goes to Teppo and  Virve, who did a great job–as expected.  
From left: Professor Sirola as opponent, Professor järvinen as custos and me.
  1. Make time for the pre-dinner on the evening before the PhD dissertation: While I had never met professor Sirola prior to stepping into restaurant Kuu, it soon became obvious that he was not only a very wise human being but also a skilled academic conversationalist with a great sense of humor. By the main course I was convinced that we would have great time discussing my Thesis the next day.
Me keeping calm and defending my thesis
  1. Pay attention to the logistics: I had a room in a hotel close to both the dissertation site and  the restaurant for the after-party, and brought all my necessities there on the day before the defense. Also, have a trusted friend to help you out on the last minute surprises, preferably someone who has gone through the same thing earlier. Many thanks to my dear friend Paula!
Weird snack from the hotel breakfast just before heading to the defense. The view from the hotel was amazing, though!
  1. Believe in yourself: You are an expert – perhaps even one of the best experts on earth – on the topic of your Thesis, even though it certainly won’t feel like that on the night before your defense. In my case, Teppo’s and Virve’s wise and soothing words helped me to stay close-to-calm and I managed to get a good night’s sleep.
At the hotel again, getting ready for the afterparty!
  1. Enjoy the defense! The opponent has cleared their calendar and travelled a long way just to discuss your work with you. The defense might also be your best – and sadly, often also the only – chance to have your friends and family´s attention as you talk endlessly on the topic of your interest.
After the defence with my mum.
  1. The after-party is an unique opportunity to praise your fellow scientists, colleagues and loved ones. Public appraisal is rare in the Finnish culture, so my fellow countrymen: Please be prepared for an award feeling at the beginning – trust me, it will most likely vanish and may even feel great to thank those you are grateful to.   
Surrounded by friends and family while giving my speech at the afterparty.

And needless to say, the kind and encouraging speeches of your guests will stay in your heart forever.

Amazed with all the kind words (and a bit relieved as the informal part of the celebration was about to begin)
  1. Keep your calendar clear for a moment after your defense and take some time to recover. You made it! You will never have to type a single word into that book again!
Heading to the gym and enjoying the feeling of never having to write a doctoral thesis again.