I completed my Bachelors in Information Technology from a small town in the Middle East region (not a citizen of any ME country). S****y internet connection but I did the best I could when it came to learning whatever I could from the Internet. Very good GPA.
Got into a Masters program in University of Lancaster (IT Management). First semester was hard but aced my second semester and my dissertation. However the courses carrying the most credits were in the first semester. Graduated with 64.99
Got a job in a college in ME region. Teaching and helping them develop their e-learning system (didn't really want to. It was thrust upon me. But I thought I will work on it and still see it through). In the meantime published my dissertation as a short paper in the best conference on software engineering - yay moment. Thought I want to do PhD now because I enjoy academia and I am pretty knowledgeable as well as passionate about my subject.
Being an international student, getting funding is hard. Even more so because my passport country wont fund me cause I spent most of my life outside the country. Thought I should amp up my CV and knowledge to make things look good.
Published another paper in the same conference. Started learning more and more programming languages and systems on my own. Python, C#, R, SPSS, Xamarin, SAP, Unity3D, managing SQL server, genetic algorithms, genetic optimization .... whatever got my interest and I felt it could contribute to my subject and/or my CV, I started learning about it.
Kept looking for funded PhD programs / vacancies for international students. Kept applying. Even got close to getting accepted for one but I screwed up the second interview. Still didn't give up. Kept pushing through. Had my cover letters, proposals, CV all reviewed by friends and colleagues at work.
It's been 5 years now. 5 years of struggles, sacrifices ... and now, depression. I honestly don't know where things are going wrong. CV? Marks not enough? Is it a problem that I'm self-learning all this stuff and not applying it at work ? I thought it was just because of me being an international student, its difficult. But i started going through PhD groups on FB and loads of international students are getting accepted.
I just wanted to share this. That's all. If someone could help out another aspiring PhD solider, I'll be obliged.
Thank you and best of luck to all.
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(Original post by cyrax101)
I want to do PhD now because I enjoy academia and I am pretty knowledgeable as well as passionate about my subject.
Is it a problem that I'm self-learning all this stuff and not applying it at work ?
Is the problem that you are self-learning and not applying your knowledge - yes, almost certainly. If you aren't applying your knowledge, then there is no external evidence (ie beyond your claim) that you have that knowledge. That's not so say you haven't, but it does make you much less competitive than applicants who have been working in a sector where they are constantly applying their knowledge and have a context to it. Not everyone can do that though, so it possibly only places you in the bottom half of applicants.
Then there is the need for funding. Funding is competitive, it's availability varies from subject to subject, but presuming you are considering IT/technology that's not an area that is highly funded. Probably only the top 20% or so can get substantial funding.
So I'm afraid there's the gap, lower quartiles of applicants based on academics and experience, punting for very competitive funding.
I'd focus on a career plan that keeps you in the sector and offers evidence of application of relevant research skills/knowledge, and hopefully save hard to minimise the funding gap. The consider applications in 3-5 years time, when you won't even be half way through a career.