“A DBA study is like a journey to find a different facet of yourself in the end.”
A metaphor that describes very nicely that a DBA study offers quite more than “pure” intellectual satisfaction. Two of our alumni, Olivier Guillet and Elena Tikhaya, shared their personal experiences about their DBA journey with our DBA candidates.
Based on Olivier’s and Elena’s experiences, we derived seven recommendations:
#1 Adapt to academia
The academic world ticks differently than the business world. The pace is much slower, but insights can be more profound. In academia, you have more time to understand different theories and reflect on your research problem from various theoretical angles. It is not about accomplishing tasks as fast as possible but about understanding the causes behind a phenomenon and the personal freedom to think without restrictions.
#2 Emotionally connect to your topic
A DBA topic is not just a DBA topic; it expresses yourself and who you are. Decide on a topic that keeps you curious and motivated for at least three years. Respect your project and try to work on it continuously.
#3 Manage your time
Tight schedules are a significant issue during a DBA study. Bringing together different life facets like your job, family and friends, the DBA study, and time for yourself can be challenging. Therefore, structure your days and weeks accordingly and plan some quality time where you fully immerse in your DBA topic.
#4 Think small
Often, we tend to mentally visualize the outcome of a big project without focusing on the little steps between the current and the future state. But thinking small helps to reach significant goals better. Focus on the following “little” steps ahead and praise yourself for each little success. Be patient with yourself!
#5 Visualize your ideas
Theories and academic papers follow their logic, and sometimes it is challenging to understand and differentiate them and structure the literature and your related thoughts. Visualizations, pictures, or metaphors help you to manage your thoughts in a better and different way. Visualize your ideas before you start writing.
#6 Seek intellectual exchange
Do not hide behind books and papers but actively seek a sparring partner with whom you can discuss what you have read and worked on. This can be your supervisor, your DBA peers, or even your beloved ones at home—explaining a complex theory in an easy-to-understand manner is quite difficult but very effective.
#7 Remember: gains beat pains
A DBA study is not always a sugar lick. In times of mental fog and emotional insecurities, think of the gains you will get from your endeavor (even you might realize them after you have finished the study). A DBA degree can boost your career, supports you in intellectual discussions, widens your mental horizon, and increases your preciseness. But a DBA degree is also proof to yourself – proof that you can succeed in a world that initially was not yours. And proof that your personality has diverse facets and skills that will accompany you on your future journeys.