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I was invited to the online welcome event for my cohort. There supposed to be some greetings from faculty and current students as well as Q&A session. Apart from that what should I expect from this kind of events? Would I be required to say some words about myself or how I am happy to join the program or smth? I'm not that great of a speaker regarding social gatherings and a bit nervous that will be asked to say something I am not prepared for.

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    I don't think there's a standard format for such things - certainly not in 'online' mode, which is new to everyone. I doubt you'll be asked to give a speech, but they might go around the zoom call and ask everyone to introduce themselves. This can literally be as simple as "Hi, I'm newb, I'm intending to work on <topic> and have just completed my undergrad at <university>".
    – avid
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 7:49
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    Protip: force yourself to speak up at such events if given the chance, even if you really hate doing it. A big part of building an academic career is networking, and you can get better and more confident through practice. Plus, no one listens too hard during this type of introduction -- everyone is too busy worrying what they're going to say ;) Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 9:44
  • @avid, that is probably an answer.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 10:50
  • @astronat, good advice. Perhaps you can expand it a bit as a formal answer without losing the key idea you present.
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 10:51
  • Is this after you have accepted to join there, or when you are still considering your options?
    – GoodDeeds
    Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 12:00

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In the pre-pandemic world, such meetings, face to face, had the purpose of encouraging people to accept offers, to "personalize" the faculty, to let students and prospective students meet one another informally. They gave new students the opportunity to meed possible advisors and discuss, if only for a few moments, mutual interests, both research and personal.

And yes, they were a bit uncomfortable for incoming students who didn't really have a great idea of the place or their future there.

In the pandemic era, the zoom meets are an attempt to capture as much of that as possible under unfortunate circumstances. It isn't intended as an inquisition.

Yes, you might be asked about your interests and maybe a bit about your background, both personal and professional. But think of it as the sort of thing that might happen if you bumped in to someone who didn't know you well.

It is impossible to say exactly how it might go, since these meet ups are new to everyone involved now. If you are uncomfortable, I'd suggest that you just try not to be the first to talk, so that you get an idea of the kinds of things that go on. But, I don't think any preparation is needed or expected. In the US, at least, it is enough to be able to say that you are interested in some general area (Analysis) or in some fairly broad sub-field. You don't need to come, certainly, with a dissertation topic in mind. Human qualities may actually be more important than deep research qualities at such a meet. There is plenty of time to do the hard work once you start.

There won't be a "sorting hat" as in the Harry Potter books.


And take the good advice that astronat gives in a comment to your question. Find a way to participate.

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