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Helen - expectations of where the PhD might lead
Name: Helen
PhD discipline: Chinese and German
Area(s) of work: International relations and research council work
Year of graduation: 2005
Date of Interview: 17/06/2008

Now Playing: Helen - expectations of where the PhD might lead
Helen reflects on how her career-thinking evolved during the PhD.

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Did you have any expectations of where you might end up after the PhD, when you embarked on it?

No, not really. I was just doing it, at that time for the reward of it itself.

And then when would you say that you started to think about what you'd do after your PhD?

Well I think it was a long time before, it was during the second year, when I first got an office job in Taiwan where I was facilitating other academics, doing meetings and networking among each other and other sort of general office type work that I realised that that was an environment I was much happier in than in a university environment. So it was right at that point that I thought 'aah, this is what I'll do, I'll work for someone like the British Council when I finish'.

I still thought I'm going to go back and finish my PhD and potentially I could still have stayed in academia but I had realised by that time that I liked an office environment and I liked facilitating rather than doing cerebral work and teaching.

How did you end up in Taiwan?

That's where I'd gone to study in my second year as an under graduate, when I was doing Chinese and German so I'd just chosen there rather than the mainland of China because less people went there from my year group and you'd be more plunged into the local culture and I made friends during that year so Taiwan, I kept going back every summer, I had a boyfriend in Taiwan so that was why I kept going back to Taiwan and why I chose it as the topic of my PhD, specifically Taiwanese literature.

So you went there to do some research during the second year of your PhD?

Yeah and then what happened then was I got a job and so I suspended my PhD studentship for six months while I was working, so I did part time study, part time collecting of resources and I was actually still working full time for probably about 11 months of that year and then I went back to the UK at the end of that year to carry on with my PhD. 

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