I am back!

Several months ago I embarked on a challenge to explore the wide world outside the University. As a result I somehow abandoned my blog. It was not intended but I was quickly absorbed by new experiences and found myself with very little spare time. Not that I didn’t have writing ideas and urges, I did and I diligently logged these as drafts to refine and publish later, but I felt I needed reflection and time before being able to communicate the newness and excitement of my experiences.

So what have I been doing?

I put my PhD on hold and went to work in the Civil Service. My funders, the ESRC, provide a number of public sector opportunities for PhD students test their skills and confidence in different contexts. So I applied, I thought the worst case scenario was to get rejected. Well, I got it. I secured a 6 month internship in the heart of government –  Cabinet Office Government Innovation Group as a Policy Advisor. The experience opened my eyes and definitely refreshed my tired PhD brain. I learned a lot and stretched my comfort zone on a daily basis, I tested my patience and developed resilience.

I met fantastic people and made new friends, discovered new areas of interest and appreciated how far I’ve come in my development. I guess being a PhD student makes you under-appreciate lots about you being in a ‘student position’. I think I needed to get out of academia and realise: hey, I can do things and I can do them well! At the same time I took a break from struggling with theoretical frameworks, piles of data and feeling stuck.

I lived in the Big Smoke, even though I never got excited by it, travelled on the tube for 1.5 hours daily, read a total of 15 books in 6 months and so achieved one of my resolutions from last year (12 books in 12 months I think it was). I wrote brief reviews for the books and so experienced another way of thinking and writing. I visited couple of palaces, a few landmarks, had cocktails on the 50th floor enjoying  bird-eye City views, got lost and found.

I ditched procrastination, yes, I did. The job made do it! With the intensity of my Cabinet Office experiences I never feared a blank page or inability to write or putting off till later. I brought that back with me to the PhD and I can gladly say I’ve been working damn hard sine the beginning of January. I plan, set deadlines, stick to them and write. How? I’ll let you know later!

I reconsidered my career prospects, hopes and aspirations. I’ve always had my heart set on academia but in the current climate getting a job is extra tough. I am not put off the least but I gained confidence that there are other career routes I would enjoy and would therefore consider. I also thought abut transitioning in and out of academia as a learning point or even potential route. Who said the first job you get after finishing a PhD is the best you can have?

I  fell in love with my PhD again. I guess separation is good, more than good, separation gave me a fresh perspective and new motivation to go forward. I am now determined to complete the PhD and see what else is in-store for me. Looks like this year will be one of tying lose ends and celebrating new beginning.

To sum up, I’ve got lots to write about and I am ready to share. Bring on 2014 and all excitement. (I know it’s almost February, but I had to say it!)

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2 comments

  1. Would you like a link to the EAL team at Dormers Wells Junior? Maybe 30 languages spoken – I don’t think anyone has ever counted though. Substantial numbers of immigrant families new to the country are here. As accommodation standards are poor in this part of Ealing, the most able leave and our school manages the rest – an even greater challenge for us?

  2. Yes please, sounds similar to a number of schools I have visited in the North West. Alawys great to hear what EAL teams are doing. I have just sent you an email. Thanks!

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