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A collaborative guide to take you through all the steps of university life.

First Week, First Thoughts

When you first start a PhD, you may feel excited or nervous. Most probably you feel a little bit of both, with a massive question mark hanging over your head. I have just completed my first week as a PhD student, and I felt the exact same way. This post will give you a few tips of what to do in your first week.

An introduction to combining a PhD and a job

Completing a PhD and working full time? As easy as translating hieroglyphics is to Professor O’Gorman. Or identifying aeroplanes by their wingspan is to Dr. Maclaren. Im not so sure. I was certainly sceptical. Especially because my job wasn’t just any job. For the first year of my PhD I was a professional rugby player, representing Scotland on the HSBC Sevens World Series. Without going in to too much detail, this involved travelling the world for approximately three months every year, travelling to such destinations as New Zealand, the Gold Coast in Australia, Tokyo, Las Vegas and South Africa. Certainly not the worst job in the world. And it was a huge honour to represent my country playing a sport I love. However it is not the most conducive to any kind of studying, never mind the trials and tribulations of a PhD.

Getting a PhD while working full time – Top 10 questions to ask yourself before starting a PhD

I’ve jotted down a list of ten questions that I wish I had thought about more fully, or even considered at all before starting a PhD. Now, please remember (as mentioned before), I was full-time PhD (with teaching and marking commitments in my PhD Contract), and part-time at work. However, my employment contract was 27 hours per week (plus travel time), which is only a few hours short of what most people would consider a full-time contract (35 hour per week).

What drove me to become a reclusive PhD student?

There were a few reasons that I decided I wanted to go back to studying after 8 years. First, I started to hate what I did for work. I had previously been a Hotel General Manager, and then moved into Branded Restaurants, working for one of the largest operators in the UK. The job was grueling, and depressing. Constantly working extra shifts, extra hours, having to work under-staffed due to unrealistic budget constraints, and then justify why the food quality and customer service were, to put a crude twist on it, pretty crappy – if you don’t have the staff, how do you meet such high expectations?!

To break or not to break

We all start a PhD hoping to not face any troubles within our personal life. However as life goes this could be the case. Heaven forbid any health issues. When it comes to issues concerning your studies there is usually very good support from your university to help you. Guidance will be given to you in the appropriate manner. However when I faced a physically health issue I hit the conundrum of whether or not to take a break from studies.

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