How to Successfully Combine Work with a PhD?

Many of the prospective PhD students are considering the idea of combining a PhD degree with a job. Some are wondering if this is even possible. There is no simple “Yes” or “No” answer to this question. However, the trend among PhD students over the last years was to either opt for a part-time PhD and a full-time job or completely dedicate to a full-time PhD programme, keeping open the possibility of having a job or some kind of paid collaboration that requires working for only a few hours a week. A part-time PhD is another preferred option for those that have decided to study an online degree and this way, they don’t have to commute.

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In this article, you can find details about:

  • Why most students choose a part-time PhD?
  • Why working at the university is ideal for PhD students?
  • Useful tips in combining a job with a PhD programme

Part-time PhDs are the best option if you want to have a stable job

A part-time PhD would mean that it will take twice as long to complete the programme, but it will also give you a few advantages: after graduation, you will not only have a PhD diploma, but you would have also added a few years of work experience to your resume.

On the other hand, you should not consider that a part-time PhD is actually easier compared to a full one. Students that have decided for part-time PhD studies often find it more challenging as this situation requires giving equal attention and importance to study and work. A PhD degree means intensive reading and research work that involves more hours of learning, compared to a Bachelor or Master degree.

The biggest challenge part-time PhD students have to face is not knowing which of the two (the job and the PhD course) is more important. You should also keep in mind that some more demanding jobs often require you staying late at the office, which leads to sacrificing the time that was supposed to be dedicated to studying for a PhD at the bottom of the list with “things to do”.

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Another concern of PhD students that are employed is when to find the time to write for their PhD thesis. As they are busy with the job and always feel tired at the end of the day, they keep postponing the moment when they sit in front of their laptop or computer to start their research and writing.

With a little time management and organisation, a part-time PhD combined with a full-time job is not impossible. One useful tip is to try to make some of your research at the end of your working hours at the office, not when you arrive at home, when you will be already too tired. You will also have to sacrifice some of your free time during weekends and in the evenings to dedicate yourself to writing the thesis.

Work opportunities at universities are ideal jobs for PhD students

PhD students that had the opportunity to work at a university (the same university they were enrolled) whether as teaching assistants or in other positions, have declared it was not only a good work experience, but it was also pretty well-paid and usually flexible in terms of working hours.

Most universities post their job offers for students so it’s important to check out their announcements and apply in advance if you’re considering these kind of opportunities. Some jobs within universities involve administrative work, others are focused on lab work, and if you are lucky enough to find a job position that fits with your field of study, that is even better. You get to make the research for your thesis during your job and also get paid for it.

Useful tips

1. If you get a job or collaboration that is somehow related to your PhD, this situation will be very helpful for your overall learning performance. It will keep you focused on thinking and finding new ideas for your PhD thesis and it will increase the chances of being a top PhD student.

2. When you consider your PhD programme, pick a topic you’re passionate about that stimulates you. Any PhD degree involves a lot of hard work, but if you select a field you really like, you will not consider your PhD as a burden or as a difficult task in the long run.

3. Find the right supervisor for your PhD thesis. Ideally, you should choose a teacher that you really admired during your PhD programme or a previous degree and that you consider you would really enjoy working with. The supervisor- student relationship is very important and will determine the success of your PhD thesis; a constant dialogue and a good communication with your supervisor are essential from keeping you stress free and it will enable a continued and stable progress in your learning.

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