My PhD journey: Part 1

The inception


When I was an undergraduate student, I did not always know that someday I wanted to start a PhD. But why did I decide to start this challenge? Here I leave a couple of reflections and experiences.

Back in 2005, I started my major in Design at the ‘Universidad de Valparaiso’, Chile. At that moment, I never thought about a PhD or even in a master degree. However, during my academic journey, I had a couple of very good professors (special thanks to Omar Acevedo) which had one thing in common: They all freely shared they knowledge and ideas with those who were interested in to learn.

You may think ‘well that is obvious and not interesting at all!’, but not every people enjoy sharing ideas or knowledge, in fact, some professors believe being gods and do not encourage students to grow and improve themselves. Why these deity-academics need to prove they are smarter than others? Anyway! Having this in mind, I discovered that I enjoyed teaching others about things I knew. I remember that one day I was helping some of my classmates with the ‘descriptive geometry module’ and suddenly I was in a classroom full of others listening to what I had to say, the feeling was very comforting!

After my geometric experience, I decided to start doing some teaching assistant helping in the ‘morphology module’, that was my first academic experience and you know what? I really enjoyed it! In that period of my life, I realised that teaching was my vocation and I wanted to start an academic career; therefore, henceforth I dedicated and focused on my undergrad studies, my first big academic accomplishment.

In 2010, once I finished my undergrad degree I had to think about how to start my academic career. Sometimes you need more than pure energy, you need contacts, networks, degrees, previous academic experience and I did not have any of that. What did I need? A PhD degree. A doctorate does not secure an academic career but it is a very good asset to move beyond the all-mighty and powerful ‘wall’ between you and your academic aspirations (that is what I thought). So my first movement on my chess table was to get my master’s degree.

As a fresh and new Designer, I did not have a good job position or economic resources to start a master degree, but fortunately, I had two big opportunities. The first one, was at the Design School where I studied, they were advertising the new ‘Master of Strategic Design‘ in some joint venture with the ‘Politecnico di Milano’, Italy. So, as a former undergraduate I had a big discount, which led me to the second big chance, my parents’ financial aid! They lend me the funds to enrol in the program. These were the two most important enablers which helped me to start my first postgraduate experience in 2011.

During my master’s degree I learnt many things, it was very focused on business strategy, therefore, our training and academic development were about businesses models, value proposals, branding and communication, design thinking and others matters which shaped my academic interest and curiosity. It was a combination of design, business and management, a powerful perspective to thrive organisational development and innovation. Furthermore, I had professors from the ‘Politecnico di Milano’ which was really interesting and challenging to develop my studies. Finally, in 2013 I have got my master’s degree, my second biggest academic achievement.

Until now I haven’t told you how I decided to start my PhD studies, where or when, however, this was the first part of my journey. I share my experience with you because I deeply believe that when you have a powerful idea in your mind you put all your energy and efforts to fulfil your objectives. When you set your goals you just start doing stuff to get what you want. That was how more than ten years ago I knew that I had a dream and I started to pursue it, a story that I will continue soon.

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