Career

My PhD

November 28, 2016

Happy day after Cyber Week! Did your bank account make it through intact? No? Neither did mine… Whooops! This weekend wasn’t just Cyber Week for me though. If you follow me on Snapchat or Instagram, you’ll know November 28th marked the 3 year submission of my PhD. I had planned on doing a ’10 things I learned doing my PhD that I use everyday’ kind of post, but I’ve been getting so many questions about what my PhD was actually about that I decided to leave that for another day and talk a little about my topic and experience here.

My PhD is a PhD of Commerce. I specialised in Marketing and within Marketing I focused on Branding. I love Branding. It’s a fascinating topic and is the subject I always had the most interest in (my Masters thesis was Branding focused too). Specifically, my research explored the relationships people in my generation (Generation Y or Millenials as everyone calls them over here) have with the fashion brands they buy. I LOVE fashion (obviously!), so when I was starting my PhD, it had to be on fashion – I seriously wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t…

bell sleeve top

You know I’ve met people who talk about doing a PhD so flippantly. Like they’re something you can get at the toss of hat… Believe me when I say they are not. I’ve heard people describe a PhD as hell and they are not exaggerating. It’s a form of mental hell. Something that consumes your every thought for 4 solid years and that no matter how hard you try, you will never stop thinking about. It’s something you think about giving up every single day, but with every obstacle you overcome (and there are many!) or with every win, you get a little push that takes you that teeny tiny bit closer to the end. And then you go through the same cycle all over again. And that’s only the start of it…

I now realise looking back, that it’s not about that end result… It’s about the journey. This is something my supervisor said to me so many times, but when you’re in it, all you’re pushing for is that end goal of submitting a perfect piece of work. A PhD isn’t meant to be perfect – there’s no such thing. It’s an apprenticeship – a form of training. An extreme form of mental training and endurance, but it’s a form training none the less. It’s a right of passage and a test to see if you are fit to join a very exclusive club (this is how it was described to me many times). At the end you have a Viva (the word Viva is latin and is short for ‘viva voce’ which means ‘by living voice’), where you are invited to defend your doctorate after it’s submitted – it’s basically a grilling on every single detail in your thesis. Think about the hardest job interview you’ve ever had and multiply it by a 1,000. Except instead of getting asked questions about yourself for 20 or 30 minutes, you have 2 very well established academics trying to prove you wrong for 2 hours. It was tough! It was very tough, but do you know what? It prepared me better than anything ever will for any interview I will ever have…

Lorna 20th-30

To be honest, I look back at my PhD these days in sheer disbelief. I don’t know where I got the motivation or the drive to get up every morning and work at it for 4 solid years. And it is work. When you’re doing a PhD you may be described as a PhD student, but your days as a student in the fun sense of the word are over (you do still get a student discount though – whoop!). I know it’s an amazing achievement and something that can never be taken away from me, but I’m so far removed from that time of my life now that it almost feels like it wasn’t real if that makes sense. That doesn’t mean I won’t celebrate it though. I promised myself 3 years ago that I would always mark this day and I’m doing a pretty good job so far.

I’ve been asked many times if I regret doing my PhD. I don’t. Yes it was indescribably hard and career wise I may be a little behind where I could be if had worked right after my Masters, but ultimately I know all my hard work (blood, sweat and way too many tears) will pay off. With the more experience I get and different projects I work on, I see parts of my PhD training trickling into all my work. The list of skills and just things I learned throughout those 4 years is endless. I probably don’t even realise how I apply some of them in my everyday life. It’s part of how I think, how I question, how I see the world, part of who I am. My PhD was also 1000% a factor in me getting my visa and if I didn’t do it, I don’t know if I would have had the opportunity to move to New York…

Anyway I think I’ve gone on enough! This post turned out to be quite the beast and a lot longer than expected. I hope I gave some insight into what my PhD was about and that although it was extremely testing and challenging, the positives ultimately outweigh the many many negatives…

Lorna x

p.s. Some people at home thought I was doing nothing with my life just walking my dogs everyday while I doing my PhD – L!O!L!

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