Jaydeep Pancholi is a PhD student within the School of Management and Languages at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. His PhD thesis is investigating business strategy within the context of conflict zones, reviewing stakeholder influences on the strategic process. Prior to this Jaydeep had gained a BA (hons) in International Business and Marketing at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, including an exchange at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, studying courses in management and culture. This was followed with working at a leading automotive manufacture in corporate fleet. Jaydeep’s academic interests have been rooted from his extensive voluntary work in personal development and corporate sustainability being a trainer for a global NGO.

When coming onto a PhD program there are many things which can be racing into your mind; shifting location, funding, getting on with your supervisors, where do I even start with my thesis etc. However, as simple as it sounds the best way to start is to take things step-by-step. After knowing the date of your university enrolment you have something to work towards.


Making use of any friends or family nearby can be helpful even as a pit stop to find new accommodation. Make use of your university student accommodation service to guide you with different alternatives for both on and off campus. Turn Google into that uncle that knows everything. There are many professional websites to help you find rentable flats and even flat sharing. However if you do use sites that show public classified ads (such as Gumtree) use due diligence before meeting and signing contracts.

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Shifting to a PhD life:

Personally, coming from an industry environment I had got used to my 9-5, working with a team, having set tasks and goals to work towards. This is not too much different from PhD life, however, it is very much individually led. The amount of work you put in will only benefit you in the long run. Be prepared to read and write a lot (and read some more!).

Connect with your supervisors and utilise their experience. It can be daunting from day one that you are “now on your own” to “just get on with it”. Believe it or not, your supervisor wants you to do well. Meet with them every week at least for the first month. Bounce ideas of them and incorporate their views. Furthermore, quickly learning the university online system will also prepare you on how best to use your library and accessing academic journals.

Using academic language can be a learning curve especially if you have got used to working in the private sector. I found going to writing workshops and attending guest lectures can reintroduce the style necessary.

Finally don’t feel alone working by yourself. Socialise with the other PhD students. Learn the practicalities from them and have fun.

Picture by Catherine under CC license.