From PhD student to Statistician and everything in between

statistician imageYou may recall that back in May I received some good news career wise and I was offered a job at the Scottish Government. You may also recall that my start date for my new job was whilst I was still writing up my PhD so I would be moving to work full time and write up my PhD on a part time basis.

This move from academia (as a PhD student) to a fully-fledged non-academic employee elsewhere was somewhat daunting but I have managed fairly well (I think). My first week in my new post was riddled with jet lag from my trip to Vancouver but this has since, thankfully, gone completely. The trip to Vancouver was great and I have benefited tremendously from it, however, I had not anticipated the effect of the jet-lag and how long it would last. When I returned from Vancouver, I managed to have some form of normality over the weekend (meals, bedtime etc) ready to start my new job on the Monday. The Monday was great, I felt energetic and excited (although a little nervous) for my new job and all the things I would be doing. The jet-lag, however, had other ideas and on the Tuesday I was absolutely floored (but I did manage to stay at work – and awake – all day). Admittedly, I was expecting it to hit at some point at work but I had no idea that it would make me feel so sick, on edge and in need of a long lie down after I had finished for the day. I also had no idea that it would get better during the week (it did, I am pleased to say), then get worse at the weekend just as the PhD work should be done.

IMG_6576So in my first week as an employed non-academic and part time PhD student I was able to complete a full week at work. I was also able to contribute to a class at my university (on my PhD day away from work), present my work to the students and take questions from the students about the conference paper I had just presented the week before. I was also able to get a little PhD writing done too. By the end my PhD day I was absolutely cabbaged and in need of some rest. My rest came in the form of a weekend off and some advice to take it easy so that I could recuperate… starting a new job and learning lots of new things is tough on the brain you know! The next couple of weeks in my job were much better in terms of the jet lag and I have just say managed to get some PhD work too. This is a schedule I am trying to still figure out…

I sat this morning and worked out my schedule (days at work and days of PhD) for the next few months. I have the next 24 weeks planned out in my work and academic calendars and that is it. When those 24 weeks are up (technically 48 working days which is not a lot!) I am officially over my personal submission limit and then I will have to think about what I need to do next. Until then, I must just get on with it, not complain and not get sick (she says).

I know that this all would not be possible without the support from my supervisors along the way from day 1. I cannot thank Hazel, Laura and Robert enough or firstly sending me the email with the job advert in and then supporting me when they found out that I had been offered a post (I told nobody except immediate family that I had been offered a place at an assessment centre with the Scottish Government as I assumed I would not be successful first time around). This whole part-time PhD thing was probably a shock to them all (you know, the perfectly behaved PhD student that I am and all hahaha!) and I can guess that they may have been concerned at first (probably one more than the others). However, none of them showed this to me (if they felt anything negative about me getting a job before submitting my PhD) and they have been supportive and helped me sort out all of the ins and outs of moving to part time PhD life (this included liaising with my two funders, my university research office, my supervisors and the government recruitment service to agree some kind of terms and conditions). I also had great internship supervisors who supported me during the assessment procedure and my currently team for allowing me to work flexibly and supporting me to get this PhD done.

statistics word cloudI am now starting to understand how challenging the next few months are going to be in balancing full time work with a part time PhD. I am still hoping to submit before the end of May next year to allow me to have a decent break afterwards (in the form of a family holiday). However, I now know there will be delays in my write up, there will be things that I just cannot do in time and there are things that will just have to wait (some until after my PhD). To be fair, I have just got over the fact that I wont be submitting my PhD in 2018 as I had planned from day 1 – I’m sure this is something I will joke about on New Year’s Eve!

This week I have already learned that I need to rest when I become unwell as I have managed to catch the dreaded office (or family visit induced?) cold. I am writing this as I start to pack up my desk for the day over the fear that I may vomit and I also may run out of tissues from constantly blowing my nose! My weekend (once I feel better of course) will finally be devoted to PhD work in the hope that I can get these thesis findings chopped back and edited. I also have the small challenge of two additional statistical surveys to analyse… lots to do and so little time left.

Image credits:

https://supermug.co.uk/products/i-cant-keep-calm-im-a-statistician

https://data.library.virginia.edu/statlab/

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