PhD student Ijeoma Kola at Manhattan Bridge

The Final Stretch to the PhD

It’s both extremely exciting and absolutely nerve wracking that in less than four months, I will hopefully be Dr. Ijeoma Kola! The journey to my PhD has been filled with numerous ups and downs, but after six and a half years, it’s time to wrap this chapter of my life up. My priority in the final stretch has been maximizing my PhD productivity, so here are a few changes I’ve made to my workflow, workwear, and workspace so far in 2019 to help me write, defend, and graduate!

PhD student Ijeoma Kola with a planner, plaid blazer, nike huaraches all white, and timbuk2 jetset convertible travel backpack

Writing – and Sharing – a Completion Plan

I’m a huge believer in writing your to do lists down, but I’ve taken things to the next level by sharing my entire PhD completion plan with a friend who is also aiming to finish at the same time. Writing out every single thing I have to do between now and graduation was incredibly daunting, but being able to see the big picture – and how little wiggle room there is for wasted days – helped bring everything into perspective while also feeling manageable. Now my friend and I can check up on each other and ask about specific aspects of our research projects, rather than the generic “how’s your work going?”. I’ve also started sharing my PhD progress on Instagram stories, and holding myself publicly accountable to my friends and followers. Whatever your new plans, goals, or resolutions are for 2019, sharing them with other people is a great way to hold yourself more accountable to actually getting it done.

gucci vintage plaid blazer and black belt bag, timbuk2 convertible jet set

Seeking Out Alt-Academic Career Opportunities

Half the burden of finishing up my PhD is writing my dissertation. The other half is figuring out what the heck I’m going to do with my life after I graduate! Although I will definitely be taking time off post-graduation to do absolutely nothing (summer 2019 is going to be EPIC!), I do want to start putting out feelers for what kinds of careers I can pursue with my PhD. When I’m taking a break from writing, I’m planning on attending workshops, talks, and conferences about careers for PhDs outside of academia, and having informal conversations with people, especially women of color, who have gotten a PhD and did something non traditional with it. If you know somebody I should talk to, please shoot me an email!

manolo blahnik black mules

When meeting people who can potentially give you a job, looking your best is essential, so I recently got a vintage Gucci blazer from thredUP that makes me look both trendy and smart. While I was browsing their site, I also found Manolo Blahnik mules that are a durable leather and a reasonable heel height – versatile for either a research, consulting, media, or alternative profession (literally, everything is on the table!) once I’m ready to work. You guys already know I love a good convertible backpack, and this one by Timbuk2 can be worn 8 ways, including my recent favorite bag style: the belt bag, which is perfect for accessorizing my new blazer!

Optimizing My At Home Workspace

Although I’ve been enjoying the luxury of working from home ever since I moved out of New York, my office space was always more conducive to blogging than to academic work. The office has gone through a couple iterations over the years, and I recently rearranged my wall to wall bookshelves such that my research related books would be in plain view while I’m writing. To further reduce distractions, I received a Modloft desk with sizeable drawers to hide desktop clutter – the mirror chrome legs are way more beautiful than the basic legs of my previous desk, and turn the once dreaded place into the focal point of my office space. Lastly, I created a dedicated writing space by moving all my dissertation writing to a new iMac from SimplyMac. Previously, I had different logins on my computer for dissertation work and blogging work, but found it really easy to get sucked into blogging work, especially if I ended up on the couch. By only doing dissertation work on the desktop, I can better separate my schoolwork from my blog and business work, making me more productive!

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  1. Love this! I’m not going to lie, you were part of the main reasons I set a timeline for myself too (you literally encouraged me to). So mine is June, 2020 (Amen? AMEN!) haha. Also if you ever feel the need to share non-academic jobs you hear about, I would really appreciate it. I haven’t completely ruled out academia, but I’m also sorta sick of it lol and curious to know what’s out there for me.

  2. Eeeeek Dr. Ijeoma on the horizon!

    Congratulations in advance. Your office space looks so pretty and inviting and definitely makes me want to get to tidying up my desk at home.

  3. When you you prioritize your work and organize your work space, one can stay focused and dedicated in achieving every task set b4 them. How important these tasks you set have helped you move forward and committed. I’m not pursuing a PHD but I can these skills in my daily life.