Reflections after 2 years of PhD student & researcher

April 3, 2010

On April 1st 2008, I officially started my PhD student and research contract. So it has been two years since then. When my wife and I decided that I would enroll as a PhD student, we were living in my hometown Madrid, working for the private sector. It was a hard decision, as we love living in Spain and we were doing good. Maybe I could define it as a sacrifice, that is, giving up something good for something better. Supposed to be, at the end of the road I would have a PhD degree that would allow me the possibility to work for education. I guess it is the “neighbor’s yard is greener” effect.

I started my research and I got introduced to a complete new life. It’s hard to explain. Maybe one of the best ones to explain it is Jorge Cham with his comics, jokes that only researchers can understand, and that actually they’re not that funny. Although from my experience not as stressful as in the private sector, still is a stressful life, in which you by doing your math you know that there are very little positions in academia. In a few years, to have to make one perfect shot (phd thesis) or a few good shots (journal papers). Your supervisor is crucial for your success or failure. And also of course is extremely important how you develop your topics.

In my case all topics are related to Economic Geography theory. I had to research on several concepts such as Local & Regional Economic Development and Entrepreneurship. I also had to research the controversial concept of Experience Economy. The first two topics I love to study, a long with Innovation, Business, Economics and Policy (all quite related among them). The Experience Economy has become an interesting case, not so much for its actual academic relevance, but how it became part of my required issues to research.

I loved learning about these issues because I care about people. Now it’s the people of the municipality of Frederikshavn, Denmark (where I work for); but it could be the people of Spain (where I’m from) of Northern California (where I temporary live), or Latin America (where my father is from).

More than 10 years ago, when I was deciding what to study, my preference was Political Science. However, knowing that one day I would have a family to sustain, I didn’t think I could afford studying that. Most of the time I have always kept working in several jobs or starting businesses, but I wisely decided to enroll at the school of Business Studies & Economics. My main motive was to learn about the countries economic development*. That was in the late 90’s, now in 2010, after studying in various universities, a bachelor, a masters and a couple of years of full time PhD, reading and listening many wise people, I still have the same interest: Learn about economic development. It has evolved from a national perspective to a local-regional perspective, but in essence is the same.

Sometimes I think that the more I learn, I understand the less, but I should not be that negative. I have learned many things, even though it’s a controversial and highly complex topic.

So far I have a few clear ideas. Simple, but I am happy about them. During the next year I will test them. Unfortunately I can not openly write about them here. But if you’re interested about these topics, we can talk whenever you want. Now my email is carlos9900@berkeley.edu or carlos@plan.aau.dk

*All students from different disciplines think, people only study business & economics to become rich. That’s not my case, nor for the majority of people I have known.

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