“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 7 recommendations:
#1 Adapt to academia
The academic world ticks differently than the business world. Pace is much slower but insights can be more profound. In academia you have more time to understand different theories and to reflect on your research problem from various theoretical angels. It is not about accomplishing tasks as fast as possible but it is 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 is an expression of yourself and who you are. Decide on a topic that keeps you curious and motivated for at least 3 years. Respect your project and try to continuously work on it.
#3 Manage your time
Tight schedules are a major 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 into 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 big goals better. Focus on the next “little” steps ahead and praise yourself for each little success. Be patient with yourself!
#5 Visualize your ideas
Theories and academic papers follow their own logic and sometimes it is challenging to understand and differentiate them and to 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 yourself behind books and papers but actively seek a sparing 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 a proof to yourself – a proof that you are able to succeed in a world that originally was not yours. And a proof that your personality has diverse facets and skills that will accompany you on your future journeys.
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