In this post, I’m going to share my story why I’ve decided to go for a PhD.

Pursuing a PhD wasn’t the clearest and most obvious decision for me. At least it was what I thought at the end of my bachelor. Although I’ve studied (and I’m still) a field which I like, I didn’t hear any “let’s go for academia and jump into research” kind of voice. That’s why the idea of going for another extra 4 years right after master just didn’t resonate well in my head. At the end of my bachelor, I was far from unhappy, but I’ve felt tired and all I was looking forward, was the graduation. My plan right after was pretty easy: one year of Erasmus exchange to slow down a bit and well-rested finishing the master and leaving academia. At least that was what I thought…

So how is it possible I’m now a PhD candidate?

It all had changed after arrival from Erasmus. At this time I had 2 years to finish my master and follow only a few mandatory courses, while I’ve “brought” enough ECTS from Erasmus. This state gave me space, time and opportunities to choose the right courses (which I’ve been most interested in) and needed time to complete my master thesis.

When I’m now looking back, this was one of the crucial points which underpin such a shift in my decision. Having enough time to focus on my work without significant pressure due to the absence of assignments from courses I would otherwise take just to “fit the plan”, creates a perfect condition to focus on my needs. There was adequate space to get things done in my courses and preparing the research for the thesis.

Another important point was an internship in my study field at the governmental institution. Even though I was glad I could see and do the real work, I somehow couldn’t imagine going for it “for real.” Sure, it was just one intern for a few months and I was a trainee, which could well explain why the workload wasn’t always something challenging, but rather monotonous or slow. But!

Luckily for me

Luckily for me, after crossing this option out from my hypothetical “what to do after master” list, I’ve decided to try my luck in something more research-related. A professor from my university recommended me at one institution and to my best, they had an open position in the research I was working on.

Before entering the last year of my master, I was about to try a new internship and finish my thesis. No other obligations.

Long story short: research was an eye-opener!

After three months of my intern as a researcher, I’ve got an extra grant to finish my research, which allowed me to prolong my stay for another 4 months. Besides work on my thesis, I’ve spent 7 months on research (from scratch to submitting a paper and presenting the major findings at the conference).

It was an eye-opening experience. Everything was solely on me. Setting up the environment on how to schedule my research, working on the thesis and preparing for finals. You could already feel, that such an experience change my opinion about what to do after the master.

Everything just perfectly fitted together and already during the way I’ve realized this is what I want to do and what I’m good at. Planning my work and be responsible for it. Freedom and autonomy. That’s why I went for a PhD.

Of course, I’m not expecting that PhD is going to be only about roses and so on. I’m aware, for upcoming years unexpected things will happen, nothing would fit together and that it won’t be probably as smooth as it was now (even though I was focusing on two, and for me till this time, the biggest projects). Nor I’m expecting PhD will be easy and it’s possible that at some point I might even be looking back saying “What was I thinking?!” But looking back at this moment, I could see why I’m going for it.