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A Day in the Life of a Business PhD student


Business Student Diary Being a Business PhD student in the UK or Europe is a world away from the student life most graduates remember. My life is demanding yet lacking in formal structure, this can create time management issues but I’ve found the most helpful approach is to treat it like a paid job.

I get up around 8am and eat a healthy breakfast before taking an hour’s walk, I find this helps to focus my mind and warm up my brain! After that it's back home to check on yesterday's work and establish whereabouts I am in meeting my own deadlines. Supervisors are pretty distant at PhD level and we are expected to research, find resources and write up our findings independently. It can be demanding, but in the world of business, personal performance is everything, and I will eventually be transferring what I learn here to a commercial environment. 

I have a small business venture which I launched with a couple of fellow students, we decided we could utilise the skills we’ve learned over the years to give children extra tuition in their own homes. Every family wants the best grades for their children, by working with them we can make that happen and get paid for doing so. Work and study make for a busy life, so I set myself not just one target each week, but a number of them. It’s like having a checklist, it ensures everything gets done and automatically prioritises tasks for times when I’m preoccupied with work. 

I break up the day by heading to the campus library after lunch, although I do have a research space at the university it’s often noisy so I tend to work elsewhere – and the library provides the ideal environment. I take a list of questions raised over the course of my recent study, this not only saves time but enables me to avoid becoming bogged down in unrelated texts. 

After my evening meal I often stay in and browse the net for any new research which could help my project or work. However, tonight I’m going out with friends. We discuss how our latest venture is panning out and with the school exam season nearly upon us, plan our marketing strategy for the coming month. Naturally, we want to raise people’s awareness of our service in the hope of gaining more clients. 

Workload of a PhD business student

If you’ve worked your way up through the academic ranks and started your PhD, you’ll be able to deal with the workload. However, postgraduate students are engaged with a high level of learning, the writing requires more detailed research and its execution has to be equally fastidious. 

The main sticking point can be the unstructured nature of a PhD course; students are not monitored as closely during the research stages and self discipline is vital. Then there’s the length of each assignment; averaging between 70,000 and 100,000 words – it’s a major undertaking! A background in academia will enable you to manage your time effectively, bear in mind the coping strategies you used previously and stick to those that work. 

What is expected in terms of commitment?

As a Business PhD student you will form part of the next generation of business leaders, informing ideas around best practices and having a major influence on the working lives of many people. As such it is essential for you to remain committed to your course and set yourself regular progress targets, find out what goals are realistic for you and try to maintain that level of output. 

It is understandable that you may fall behind with your work on one or two occasions, but avoid this becoming a regular occurrence. If you begin to lose focus or lack motivation, it may be time to recharge your batteries by socialising with friends or enjoying a hobby. When you do resume work, you’ll feel refreshed and ready for action. 

The lifestyle of a PhD business student 

The average Business PhD student has to borrow money or apply for a bursary in order to take a PhD. That means money can be tight for a few years, but the rewards will definitely make it worthwhile. Again, your experience as an undergraduate will come into play, stick to a budget and don’t be tempted to spend money on credit. If funds are low, you may be able to earn extra money from starting your own business, tutoring, or as a guest lecturer, ask your university about any available positions.