“My first tryst with research happened when I went to ISI Delhi for my Master’s dissertation. Although I didn’t have the chance of spending much time at the institute in person due to the pandemic, I still got a brief taste of what a PhD could possibly entail in the future. Since I didn’t have enough learning exposure in my Master’s, I felt PhD would be the next suitable step for me where I could learn things better and eventually pursue my passion for teaching.
But my expectations were far from reality when I enrolled into a PhD program. I struggled quite a lot in my first year. My supervisor had high expectations from me but I couldn’t match up to that level. I wasn’t so well-versed with my topic and failed to perform well consistently which made my supervisor disappointed. I got so depressed that I felt like quitting my PhD.
Initially, my friends and family tried to talk me out of it, but they soon realized it was a recurring thought at the back of my mind. My parents also came through and I booked my tickets back home having made up the decision to quit the research group I was in.
But as fate would have it, a few days before my departure, my friends were taking a trip to Tirupati and I decided to join them thereby postponing my homecoming. On the last day of the trip, one of my Masters’ professors called me up and asked me to give it another shot with a different supervisor in the department who had expressed his willingness to hire me as a PhD student. Luckily, things have looked up for me since then although I must admit it is too early to come to a conclusion!
I was in a mentally dark space during my initial years of PhD because I wasn’t aware of most of the things that a PhD demands. I personally think it is important for PhD aspirants to spend a significant amount of time in a research setting and assess the pros and cons before actually becoming a PhD student themselves. A 2-month internship might not be enough, especially if most of it is virtual.”
-Sachin Sachdeva, PhD in Statistics, University of Hyderabad
Interviewed and written by Payel Das and Aniruddha Mukherjee