When I reached the final year of my degree, I realised that the type of job I wanted to do required a further qualification, so I decided to stay on for a Master’s. I enjoyed the subject so much, I realised I would like to continue studying for a PhD as well.
I was fortunate enough to be awarded an ESRC scholarship which covered my fees and some of my living costs. I also earned some extra money teaching undergraduates in the department.
It was in the area of monetary policy, focusing on unconventional policies and procedures following the financial crisis, such as quantitative easing and bank regulation.
It is a very important relationship, and there is no single right way to do it. For me, the balance was very good. My supervisor was able to set me in the right direction, and even co-authored some papers with me, but ultimately I was allowed to have ownership of the work I did and how I wanted to develop and present that. Other people prefer more or less contact with their supervisor, so it’s important to find what works for you.
Yes – there’s really strong support within the School. The doors of the academics’ offices are always open and they are happy to give up their time to offer you advice. There’s also a definite community of research students and, for me, that was the strongest support network – we all understood what our fellow students were going through and many of us have stayed in regular contact since graduating.
Make sure you choose a research topic that you are really interested in, but be prepared for it all to change and evolve. By the end, your thesis is not going to be what you thought it was going to be, so you need to be quite flexible. Roll with it – you will learn as you go along. Definitely make the most of other people in the department, too, and capitalise on their expertise.
I’m working in the Monetary Analysis Directorate of the Bank of England. My time is split between carrying out research and doing policy analysis for the Bank’s various decision-making committees. There isn’t really a typical day. One day I might be helping to write a speech for the Governor, the next I might be trawling through datasets, or working on a paper to take to an academic conference.
There are some jobs that are very difficult to get without a PhD, and this is one of them. Beyond that, the PhD allowed me to gain a deep level of technical understanding and expertise, which set me apart. It also gave me time to build a network of people with similar interests and see where they worked and the types of job they did, so I could enter the job market and hit the ground running.
See your PhD as part of your career, not something that comes before it. Talk to people at conferences, other departments, in policy institutions and in industry. This will help you discover what the right job for you might be and will increase the chances of your applications being successful. It also increases the chances of there being a familiar face there when you do start work.