You are currently working as a PhD researcher. How did you get there? Did you start your research right after GLOCAL?
I started searching for PhD openings in the months leading up to and following graduation. I knew that I wanted to pursue a career in academia, and that was the main reason I got into GLOCAL in the first place.
What is your research focus and what does your daily work as a PhD researcher look like?
My research focuses on the employability and career preparedness of Dutch university college graduates. In short, I’m investigating how the distinctive features of these interdisciplinary, small-scale bachelor’s programmes, which are not typical in European higher education, translate into labour market prospects and career-related outcomes of their graduates. Apart from conducting research, I also do some teaching at University College Maastricht.
Did you already know that you are interested in this topic during your GLOCAL studies?
During GLOCAL, I was mostly interested in two general areas. The course Globalization and Labour at the University of Glasgow sparked my interest in labour studies and the future of work. (By the way, I still consider this to be one of the most interesting elective courses I took, and I would highly recommend it to future students.) In Barcelona and Rotterdam, my focus shifted towards urban policy and creative cities, which was the topic of my master’s thesis. When I started looking for a PhD position, I was aiming at these two areas. I ended up behind door number one.
How are the topics you are working with connected to GLOCAL?
The topic of my PhD is not directly connected to the GLOCAL curriculum, but the interdisciplinarity and flexibility of GLOCAL is something that is of utmost relevance to my work as a researcher. The fact that the programme accustoms students to looking at the world from various perspectives has proved to be one of its most useful features. And since I am researching higher education, having the chance to experience different higher education systems also came in handy.
Check out the articles that Milan published on the GLOCAL Experience Blog:
Awe-Inspiring One-Sentence Novels You Never Knew Existed
Nabokov’s Writing Method, or the Only Essay Writing Advice You’ll Ever Need
What skills and experience are valued in conducting PhD research?
Apart from the things mentioned above, the research and writing skills were obviously the ones that I could transfer directly to my PhD. When I started, my supervisors were surprised by the speed at which I could put together a literature review. In GLOCAL, we had about two weeks on average to write a 4-5,000 word paper; this can turn you into a real writing machine. I did have to considerably improve my quantitative research skills, though, and this is something I think GLOCAL could improve upon. In the second semester, for example, it would be really useful if you could choose between a quantitative and qualitative track, and have a course in either statistics or interviewing, leading to the thesis.
Do you have any tips for current GLOCAL students that want to pursue a PhD degree?
There are a lot of things one needs to keep in mind when applying for a PhD, but I think patience is crucial. In most cases, it’s a long process—four to five months can easily pass from your application submission to the day the hiring decision is made. Preparing an application also requires a good deal of time, and you are bound to face rejections along the way. It’s important not to get discouraged, and even more important to make sure you’re absolutely certain that you want to embark on a PhD journey, and that devoting three or four years of your life to doing research is the best possible use of your time.
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