Academia come-back


It’s been a tough road graduating from an MSc to starting a PhD. I knew, back when I graduated, that I wanted to take a year off from academia, just so that I could breathe again and take my mind off essay writings and other scholarly exercises that had been required of me to produce for four years in a row. I felt that taking a break from academia and experiencing the real world could give me some insight as to what I wanted to do for my thesis, and embellish my CV.

Instead, I ended up taking two years off, had three different non-academic related jobs and did a lot of extra non-paid academic work. I’ve learned a lot about myself, about other people, about work-life, and the ‘real world’. I’ve especially witnessed how much I missed academia and how much I wanted to do a PhD.

Things I’ve accomplished in the last two years:

  • 4 Conference papers
  • 2 Research assistantships
  • 1 Published article
  • 1 Article Reviewing
  • 1 Business blog post

Looking back at this it feels like I’ve worked my way up to academic life. But the reality is that the road was quite bumpy. I was what they call an ‘independent researcher’ and I totally loathed the designation. It’s what academia calls researchers who aren’t directly affiliated to a university (e.g. no uni email address, not currently enrolled in a uni program, etc.). It’s probably the most denigrating term one can be assigned to. It’s like you’re no one. Really.

I could write conference papers, but I could not go to the conferences due to a lack of funding – I wasn’t a student anymore so I wasn’t entitled to get any grants. I was lucky enough to write co-authored papers and have my co-author present our work in conferences.

The moment I finally got admitted to a PhD program and got a university email address, was probably one of the most triumphant moments yet of my new academic life. It meant that I could sign up for services that only academic researchers have access to, and to build my network on online platforms.

Current to-do list:

  • Re-write thesis proposal x1
  • Creative writing x2
  • Tutoring x1

And lots and lots of reading. I need to get going, time’s ticking.