Life as a doctoral research student - Inga Steinberg

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Over the summer we will feature interviews with some of our current DPhil students and departmental scholarship holders. In the first of our series, we hear from Inga Steinberg, student in Comparative Social Policy, supervised by Dr Bess Bukodi.

What stage are you at in your DPhil, and what is your area of research?

I am at the end of the first year of my DPhil, so I am officially still a "Probationer Research Student" (PRS). This year I have been working on the document I have to submit for my "Transfer of Status", which will happen at the end of the summer. My research is quantitative in nature, and I am investigating the earnings returns to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees in the United Kingdom, paying special attention to the effect of social origin on field of study dependent earnings.

What have been the highlights of this academic year for you?

It has been great to meet such a diverse group of people this year. Doing a PhD can be quite a lonely and isolating experience at times, so I am glad to have met so many nice people who understand what it's like to be a DPhil student. I have also enjoyed being able to audit courses in other departments next to my thesis related work. I kept meaning to do so during my MSc, but never had enough time. 

What has been challenging?

It took me a while to get used to having to structure my own life and work. I did the MSc in Comparative Social Policy at DSPI last year, and I didn't expect my experience during the DPhil to be this different to my time at the department then. While being able to decide when and what you work on has many upsides, it can also be very difficult at times.

What difference does having a departmental scholarship make to your studies?

The departmental scholarship makes all the difference - without a scholarship I wouldn't have been able to accept my place on the DPhil. It's great that this scholarship comes with no strings attached, so to speak. I don't have to worry about potentially losing my funding if I don't attend a certain number of events or courses, for example. 

Inga was part of the team who organised this year's Graduate Research Student conference.