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Sarah - the meaning of the PhD
Name: Sarah
PhD discipline: Architectural History
Area(s) of work: Heritage administration; freelance writer
Year of graduation: 2004
Date of Interview: 19/06/2008

Now Playing: Sarah - the meaning of the PhD
Sarah talks about what her PhD means to her and how she has used it to her advantage in the world of work.

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The PhD gave me confidence. When I graduated I didn't think the graduation would make any difference at all but somehow it did. Somehow actually being able to say 'I am a doctor' was really, really important in how I put myself out there. It was also really important when I got my first job because I was still quite young and female and I was going to meetings with much older people. These people knew a lot more than I did and I could be in a meeting with five of them and me. I should have felt quite worried about that but the fact that I had a PhD somehow gave me that little bit extra. I could introduce myself as 'doctor' and could see in their faces the reaction to that. That helped in giving me a bit more confidence. 

Do you think it changed your identity or how you saw yourself?

I don't know I haven't really thought about it like that. I suppose in a way it did, in that it was quite a big thing to do and I achieved it and I was proud of it. Proud of it not just because I had achieved it but because it was something that I really enjoyed doing and something I wanted to do and something that was challenging. It was a good thing to have done. I refer to myself as 'Dr' because I am proud of all the hard work I did for it. And so I suppose, in a way, it did. 

I came to realise that when I went to meet people much more senior than me in my subject it is very easy to be intimidated by them. At the beginning of my studies I was intimidated because they have a vast amount of knowledge. People who have been working in their subject for decades can throw their weight around a bit sometimes. I think I have come to kind of realise that whilst these people are very significant and they do know a lot, they are important but I don't necessarily need to be intimidated. The reason that they are where they are is simply because they are older than me. I have the opportunity to get to that place myself. I just need a bit more time. I feel less intimidated about that now and perhaps the PhD gave me a bit of confidence in that respect as well. 

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