nina's timeline

Nina gained a Bachelors and a Master’s degree prior to undertaking doctoral study funded by a Research Council grant. She joined the UK study in 2008 whilst in the second year of her doctoral studies. At that point she was undecided about her future career. Her immediate family were in the UK whilst her partner was a national of another country, with a job based in Europe and wider family living across Europe and South America. Nina graduated with her PhD aged 27.

What struck us about Nina’s story was: 

Co-locating with her partner and striving for a work-life balance. 

Managing as a teacher and understanding institutional differences. 

Openness to various post-PhD careers and advancing her career options. 

 

PhD

Year 2

PhD

Year 3

PhD

Year 4

PhD

Year 5

 Post-PhD

Year 1

Post-PhD

 

Year 2

Post-PhD

 

Year 3

 

PhD

Year 2

Gained confidence and independence in life as well as work skills whilst abroad.

Fieldwork in schools abroad; participants supportive; achieved a non-academic publication.

Considered an academic career but not sure; wanted “to see the outside world of work as I’ve always been a student”.

...

Supervisors professional but discouraging; critique useful but feedback rarely positive and they discouraged her publication stance.

...

Absence of partner and family helped avoid distractions and maintain focus whilst abroad.

Tackled ongoing difficulty with time management, as returning abroad to complete fieldwork was not an option.

...

Anticipated joining partner in Europe next year while writing up thesis.

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...

 

PhD

Year 3

...

Completed fieldwork; disappointment with supervisors continued.

...

Lived with mother as disliked graduate space at university.

Returned to UK; accepted 3-month research internship, suspended PhD.

Enjoyed autonomy of internship, felt academia could offer similar freedom.

Planned to join partner in Europe while finishing PhD before both moved to UK.

Resumed studies – analysis, writing up, conferences; undergraduate teaching.

Undertook teaching as a strategic move to enhance CV; attended conferences to enhance networking.

...

...

Career options included research abroad, law conversion course, post-doctoral fellowship.

 

PhD

Year 4

Lived with partner in Europe then returned to mother’s in UK and joined partner at weekends.

Wrote up thesis, supervisors contributed helpfully, made progress.

Due to start teacher training autumn year 4, choice inspired by fieldwork, education internship, and flexible career options.

Funding ended, took part-time job.

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...

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Anticipated finishing summer year 4.

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Enjoyed ‘nomadic lifestyle and career’, but looked to settling down, having a family.

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PhD

Year 5

 Post-PhD

Year 1 

Moved to London with partner.

Teacher training began; thesis still not finished at start of year.

Teaching as expected (mother was school teacher).

Partner supportive: did housework, pushed her to write, gave tips on time management.

Taught and studied during the day, thesis in evenings and weekends; stressful.

Didn’t ‘regret not going into academia’, but still thought of an academic future.

Tried to ‘sort out a balance’ – exercise, sleep, language lessons, enjoy city life.

Busy with teaching, lot of responsibility, needed to know ‘when to cut corners’.

Drew on doctoral work and research experience to enrich her teaching.

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Successful PhD viva mid-year.

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Partner considering career change.

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Main earner if partner retrains.

Was considering moving somewhere cheaper, even abroad.

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Teaching was a job ‘you can really take anywhere’.

 

 Post-PhD

Year 2 

Attended doctoral graduation, realised ‘it was a big achievement’.

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Work-life balance better, tried to keep weekends free from work.

1st year as qualified teacher  ‘a baptism of fire’, stress and pressure: increased teaching load, targets, marking.

Intended to gain more teaching experience before moving house.

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Cut corners, managed workload better, refused ‘unreasonable’ demands.

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Shaped role with topics/ activities of interest to her; supervised pupil’s project - drew on PhD research and experience of supervision.

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Considered moving to partner’s country; became engaged to partner; thought of starting a family.

Left role to teach part-time on ad hoc basis at whichever school needed her.

Good for her development - anticipated a different and more varied experience.

Moved with partner to her mothers’, a cheaper area so they could save and partner could retrain.

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...

 

 Post-PhD

 

Year 3 

Married her partner, moved into own home.

Began ad hoc teaching at various schools; challenging, met new problems.

Flexibility of ad hoc teaching suited her preferred lifestyle.

Christmas with partner’s family in South America.

Returned to wider variety of schools; enjoyment increased alongside experience.

Broadened her experience and understanding of the education syllabus.

Time in evenings for friends, family, activities, study; regular travel breaks.

Enjoyed leaving school and job behind at 3pm.

...

Bought house in Europe as a base for a couple of months each year.

Became A-level examiner; applied to become school governor.

...

Planned a family next year; intended to return to part-time ad hoc teaching in a couple of years.

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...

 

What struck us

Striving for a work-life balance.

Co-locating with her partner.

Managing as a teacher.

Understanding institutional differences.

Openness to various post-PhD careers.

Advancing her career options.

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Researcher Identity Development (2017). This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License