I worked in the non-profit sector for several years after my undergraduate degree, before deciding that I wanted to advance my career. A PhD gave me the opportunity to pursue my research interests in understanding the voluntary sector, while learning a lot about research methods. The freedom to shape a research project, whilst receiving training and support, helped me to develop the skills I needed.
The relatively small economics department at Stirling means that PhD students can be well-integrated, and benefit from access to a wide range of different approaches and expertise. Presenting work-in-progress is encouraged, which is a great way to get feedback from both staff and fellow students. There is also a wide range of support and training from the university more broadly, and attendance at international conferences is encouraged.
The research work I did in my PhD, and the networks that I built up during it, prepared me for both an academic career and a return to working in the voluntary sector. Following my PhD I worked both as a post-doc, and as a research manager for a national charity, before I decided to stick with academia and took up a lectureship in quantitative methods.