Should you or shouldn’t you work whilst you study? I hear a number of reasons why LSE PhD students can and can’t work while they are studying.

What’s right for you?

The issues might include:

  • time – you don’t have enough
  • money – you might need more
  • capacity – how much headspace is available?
  • gaining experience – what sort do you need?

There isn’t a single formula to suit all PhD students, your reasons for doing part-time work are personal, unique and probably multiple. From a career progression perspective, experience matters. Choose wisely how you spend your time and you will gain an advantage in the labour market after your PhD. Connections, references, vocabulary, evidence of relevant success all add value to your portfolio and can be presented positively to future employers. It’s worth getting good quality experience while you study.

Looking at the career paths of PhD students moving into work, I notice a pattern. Those who have managed to gain experience outside academia make a smoother transition to paid work after graduating. LSE regulations guide you to work for no more than 20 hours per week, outside your academic studies and, if you are a funded student, you should check your funder’s specific regulations. That’s fine! Many students manage to fulfil the regulations, complete their PhD and leave with a bank of useful experience.

So, how to get it?

The practicalities

An internship, paid part-time work, volunteering, a short-term contract all could influence your future career transition. You can get experience through advertised positions and speculative approaches. Focusing on a specific sector will help you find job sites and vacancy boards. Set up feeds from the sites that suit you best.

  • The opportunities on CareerHub are a good starting point.
  • Learn about PhD internships on our Blog.
  • Come and ask if you need some more suggestions.

When applying for any opportunity, address the requirements of the recruiter and use language typical of the organisation and sector to increase your chances of selection success. Translate your PhD experience into terms the selector will recognise and avoid our HE jargon!

Information about supporting yourself funding during a PhD is posted on our PhD Careers website.

All career issues can also be discussed confidentially with me; book a time on CareerHub.

You may feel you’re too busy to add anything else into your weekly schedule but remember the issues addressed at the beginning of this blog. I have examples of other LSE PhD graduates who addressed these concerns and their experience might inspire you. Good luck with your PhD, your additional activities and your work experience!

This blog was written by Catherine Reynolds, PhD and Research Staff Careers Consultant.