Doctoral Student and Working Full-Time

I was admitted to the Doctoral Programme in Technical Sciences at the University of Vaasa in January. After finishing my Master’s degree at the University of Vaasa several years ago, I began thinking about the possibility of continuing the studies based on my Master’s thesis. The timing for doctoral studies didn’t feel right until last year when I decided to apply and was very lucky to be accepted.

The subject of my Master’s thesis was how information systems help people with special needs (deaf, blind and physically impaired persons). My doctoral research is titled “How can information systems help persons with special needs to communicate?”.

I have always been interested in finding out how information systems and different assistive technologies can help people with special needs in their daily lives and with their communication and whether people can become marginalised if they do not have information systems at their assistance.

I have been focusing on general studies for the first year of my doctoral studies. These courses have been very interesting and also made me understand the variety of different things that I need to take into consideration during my research work. During this year, I have participated in some Master’s degree courses in Information Technology, just to familiarize myself with studying and on how to build a solid ground for my doctoral research.

Although the courses and studies are interesting and I enjoy studying, it has sometimes been challenging to plan my schedule so that I can participate in mandatory lectures. The reason for this is that I work full-time outside the University.

In order to be able to simultaneously work and study full-time, I also need to plan my workdays so that I can get all the work done in the best and most efficient way during the day, therefore enabling me to focus on my studies during the evenings and on weekends. I am very lucky because my superior at the office has been very flexible and understanding, which means that I have been able to attend lectures during the day.

Doctoral studies are very independent studies, meaning that I have to plan and work independently. I have to be realistic when planning my schedule. My studies cannot progress in the same timetable as they would for a full-time student. It is very time-consuming to search for articles, read and write articles, and to write all the assignments.

I need to have realistic expectations concerning my study schedule; it will take more time for me to get my research done than it would if I was able to research my subject full-time. Even if I will not have a lot of spare time during my studies, I am very motivated to begin research on my subject.

Katarina Norrgård
Doctoral Student
School of Technology and Innovations



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