My experience with moving from Industry to doing a PhD by Ritika Shukla

I graduated with a degree in Aerospace Engineering MEng from the University of Leicester back in 2015. Doing a PhD right after my undergraduate degree crossed my mind but I found myself confused on which research area I wanted to focus on. I therefore decided to step into the world of industry and wanted to see where my path took me.
My first job was working for a land surveying company that primarily used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to complete surveys. After a year, I managed to move into an industry that used even bigger vehicles remotely: the satellite technology industry. I started working within satellite communications as a Satellite Controller, where I would operate and monitor satellites in geostationary orbit. I had finally found the area I wanted to remain in: working with satellites. I found the capabilities of these vehicles so fascinating and the usefulness of their application endless. I decided to reflect back on this when I considered doing a PhD after graduating my engineering degree and thought this would be the best opportunity possible to finally go into the research area that I am so passionate about.
I contacted a few lecturers at the university and eventually found out about a CENTA funded project in physics research which I wanted to get involved in. It was in Earth observation and consisted of working with large amounts of data retrieved from an instrument on satellites – all the aspects I loved working with whilst in industry.
Working in industry prior to starting a PhD has helped with a lot of important skills required to undertake research. I have found myself more confident in my approach to working with others, which has made the transition into starting a PhD a lot more positive.
The best thing about having worked in industry already is that I can see what I prefer in terms of my future career plans. I am currently only a first year PhD student, but if I find that remaining in research and academia is far more suited to me compared to industry, I believe that is probably where I would like to remain. Let’s see what the future holds!

Ritika Shukla is doing a CENTA Phd.

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Martin Coffey

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Postgraduate Career Development Adviser, Doctoral College Team.

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