Tell us a bit about yourself - what stage of your PhD are you in and what's your project about?
I began my third year of the PhD in October 2019 so I am nearing the end of the PhD journey. My project looks to examine mental health stigma at a structural level in Scottish society and seeks to develop a more nuanced understanding of how stigma affects opportunities, access to support and the lives of young people who have lived experience of mental ill health. This qualitative study has used interviews with young people, members of staff who work with young people and I have also carried out a policy analysis.
What does a typical day or week look like for you?
I’m not sure there’s any such thing as a “typical” day or week for a PhD Student! I spent the past few semesters teaching so a lot of the time would be spent in classrooms with undergraduate social policy students, or preparing for classes. When I was collecting data I was going all over Scotland to carry out interviews with participants, but now my fieldwork is completed I am focusing solely on data analysing and writing up. As I am no longer teaching to focus solely on the thesis I work anywhere from coffee shops, libraries, the Postgrad office at the University, or even at home.
What's one thing that you've enjoyed the most during your PhD?
I have had many fantastic opportunities throughout my PhD, however one standout experience was summer 2019 when I was given the chance to go on secondment to Yale University in the US, and to give a presentation at an international conference at NYU.
What's been the most challenging part of it?
Overcoming self doubt has been bee a massive challenge. Not knowing whether what I am doing is good enough to earn a PhD and second guessing myself has been difficult to overcome. Checking in with supervisors and other PhD students always helps though!
Where do you see yourself 5 years after completing your PhD?
I would love to work as an academic and continue in a research career, I also enjoyed the teaching aspect of my PhD so staying in academia would be ideal. However, I am aware that academia is competitive so I would also be happy with a job that I could continue carrying out research that would improve people’s lives. To be honest though, I have been living off a tiny stipend for the past couple of years so I would be overjoyed to have literally any job that paid me a living wage!
What's one piece of advice that you'd offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?
Keeping motivated is the hardest part, especially when life happens around you, but keeping focused and passionate about your topic will see you through to the end, doing a PhD is more about endurance than intelligence. Also use referencing management software from day one!
What makes your university a good place to study?
From my experience I have managed to find people who are similar to me and come from a similar background, this has helped me to build a small support network through the university.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy going to castles and rummaging in charity shops, and spending time with my cat!