Grant McDermott bio photo

Grant McDermott

Assistant Professor
Dept. of Economics
University of Oregon

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So, my PhD programme began today. We're starting with a preparatory maths and statistics course, before getting into the core modules \(-\) micro, macro, 'metrics and (scientific) methods \(-\) during the year. Well, those plus a couple of electives that I'm interested in taking, but won't mention here because they don't begin with the letter "m". Alliteration uber alles!

All told, it's a four-year programme (yikes!), but with a one-year exchange and 25% work obligation thrown in. So that should hopefully mix things up a bit. (In case you're wondering: Yes, I do feel like this.)

Anyway, after umming and ahhing for a while about the whole PhD palaver, I'm pretty happy with my decision to go this route. At this (very) early stage, I'm not particularly set on a career in academia afterwards \(-\) though I certainly like having the option \(-\) but rather feel the additional qualifications will stand me in good stead for my general career ambitions. Plus, I've been lucky enough with my research scholarship that my earnings won't really suffer in the interim :)

On that note, I only just checked my final Master's results yesterday, including that of my thesis. (I'd previously just assumed that everything was more-or-less okay unless my supervisor contacted me with a "we need to talk" email.) As such, I'm happy to report that everything went smoothly. I've also just about finalised a shortened, adapted version of my thesis that I'm hoping to publish as a co-written journal article. I'll keep you informed...

As a general comment, I believe that time away from studies and working in the professional sector certainly helped sharpen my focus coming into postgraduate studies \(-\) as did my travelling stint. I know that some people happily go all the way through from a Bachelor's to a Doctorate, but I'm very pleased to have had those experiences outside of academics in retrospect. FWIW, I'd recommend a similar approach if anyone is seeking advice towards that end. Your perspectives are broader at the same time as your true interests are clearer. And, although the charge is often made unfairly, you're also far less likely to suffer from ivory-tower syndrome, which is the Achilles Heel of many university residents.