Tessa Coombes: “Why I Love My PhD”

Tessa Coombes is a PhD candidate in Social Policy at the University of Bristol.

What has been the highlight of your PhD so far?

The highlights for me have been the positive interest and support from people within the School for Policy Studies and from people I have spoken to outside the University. To know that others think what I am doing is interesting and worthwhile is always motivating. The fact that some of them even think it is exciting never ceases to amaze me.

When have you felt most proud of yourself during your PhD?

My proudest moment so far was undoubtedly that moment when I decided I wanted to do a PhD and subsequently received such phenomenal support from friends, family and lecturers to actually do it! Applying, getting accepted and starting out on my PhD journey made me feel incredibly proud.

When you feel at your wit’s end with your research, what would you say keeps you going?

The main thing that keeps me going when things don’t quite work out, or I’m having to spend hours on quite tedious tasks, is thinking about where I was a couple of years ago and where I am now. Back then I was working in a difficult and challenging environment, and not particularly enjoying life and rarely looked forward to going to work. Now I’m doing something I have chosen to do, something that I love and enjoy, for all the challenges it throws at me. I now enjoy the process of ‘going to work’, even Monday mornings are good. When at a low ebb I think about the end goal, finishing the PhD and what a sense of achievement that will bring. I would also say having a decent playlist to listen to is critical, as the right music will always lift your spirits and get you through the tough times.

Can you share something that makes you smile about your PhD?

My funniest moments tend to be when working at home and my cat decides it’s time to play or that she needs attention. She’s very good at sitting in front of the computer screen or on whatever I am trying to read, or just deciding to lie across my books and desk.

Tessa's cat keeps her looking on the lighter side of her reading.

Tessa’s cat ensures she takes regular breaks from her work…

 

“Why I Love My PhD” is an ongoing series inspired by The Guardian’s series of the same name, about how our Postgraduate Researchers stay enthused about their work and what keeps them going on the harder days. If you would like to share your story or contribute, please get in touch