Getting a PhD: How to start?
In this episode I share some personal experiences with finding a PhD trajectory in the Netherlands.
When I turned 30, I firmly decided to get a PhD. I locked myself in a rented apartment for 3 months and started my search. I launched three different paths for finding a PhD.
1) I applied for the German DAAD scholarship. It is a logical way of securing funding. You get a modest monthly stipend if you win this scholarship and you are required to find your own programme and supervisor.
2) Keeping in mind that I potentially need to find my own supervisor, I started building my academic network. This is super tricky as the risk of being annoying to people is HIGH. I narrowed down my list to 10 academics in the field of my interest and approached them with a VERY brief email and concise CV. About five responded. Three were interested. None had any money.
3) Meanwhile, I looked for advertised positions and stumbled upon an ad describing exactly what I wanted to study. The PhD position was in Rotterdam in the Netherlands. This is a great website for academic positions in the Netherlands. I ended up getting this position.
I withdrew my application from DAAD and followed up with the academics I was in touch with.
Basic take-home messages:
- Diversify your search terms
- Build your network and gather information
- Secure support from your partner (if there is one, they will have to walk this tough walk with you)
- Something I did not mention in the video, but if you are denied 10 times, be sure to stand back up, wipe the dust off and keep going. It might be the 11th or the 20th or the 50th try, but you will get where you want to be.