“Where are they now?” WRDTC Alumni share their post-PhD experiences and achievements…
Simone Croft (Psychology Pathway, University of Sheffield)
Everyone knows that finishing a PhD is hard. For me, in the final months I found balancing my time and efforts between my thesis and my two children was incredibly difficult. The worry of a fast approaching end-date for my funding added to the pressure, but I felt I couldn’t stretch myself to job hunting as well. There is an odd draw towards looking at and applying for jobs in your final year. Perusing vacancies affords some mental escape from the often tedious job at hand. Imagining yourself in academic or research positions or in different cities or countries can be inspiring and motivating, but can also be a huge distraction at a time where focus is needed. I had seen from colleagues that applying for jobs or grants can be incredibly time consuming, and at times heart-breaking. So I made a conscious decision with about 6 months to go, to focus all my efforts on finishing my thesis before job hunting. This provided the motivation I needed to finish by the time my funding ran out and meant that I would have the advantage of being able to start a new job immediately.
In the final week of my write up, an email circulated in our department, advertising a role for a post-doc to conduct qualitative research. In my PhD, I had only done advanced quantitative methods, so it seemed unlikely that I would be the most suitable for the job. However, I managed to convince the interviewers that I was, and my immediate availability was definitely an added bonus. I was lucky, I managed to start a new job in my department within a week of finishing my thesis. Embarking on a new research project, with new people and research techniques was pretty exciting. However, the PhD doesn’t just finish. The viva requires preparation, corrections need to be made, and papers need to be written up and invariably revised, for publication. Finding time to do all of this, on top of the learning curve and day to day responsibilities of the job can be difficult – I have certainly struggled at times to fit it all in. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to complete the thesis write-up while in employment.
It’s been months now and the waters have finally settled and normality has been restored to life again. My PhD was awarded in March and am still trying to write up those papers for publication. In my new job I’ve conducted 4 studies and am writing an academic review. I still love the new job, and still love finding time when I can to work on my PhD papers, and I still have that cloud of worry about the next job. I’ll stay in Sheffield while my kids are in school, but I’ve no idea where my research will take me, and I still find that quite exciting.