My name is Steffen Bakker, 25 years old, multi-sporter, musicophile and PhD student. I obtained my Master's degree in Econometrics in 2015 after a great student period in Groningen. This included a formal career within VESTING (being part of several committees) and a more than active participation at social events. After this study period, I continued working at the company where I wrote my Master's thesis. However, thanks to professor Van der Vlerk, I managed to get a position as a PhD student at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Something which I never really considered during my studies. However, I can now say that I am very happy with this choice.
In my PhD, I work on a project focused at economic analysis of plug and abandonment operations of offshore oil and gas fields. Amongst others, I make use of the fields of optimization (planning of plugging campaigns) and real options (shut-down decision).
There are several aspects that I find appealing in doing a PhD. First of all, contrary to many positions in business, you have enough time to go in-depth into a problem and you can really do the things you want. Moreover, possibly dependent on your supervisor, doing a PhD requires a lot of independence. This is something which I very much appreciate. I am able to plan my own days and make use of the flexibility that I have. This means that I can go for a run during my lunch break or take a long weekend off to go skiing. Besides the academic challenge, you can also develop yourself on other areas. As I have to do duty work for the university, I currently give lectures within finance and econometrics. And I can tell you, teaching is a very challenging task. Another interesting aspect is the international character of the academic world. You visit several (inter-)national conferences a year and long-term research visits are also common. In the fall of 2017, I am for example visiting a professor at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, US). Besides this international collaboration, I also cooperate with the leading research institute in Scandinavia, and many industry partners. This gives you a lot of input, feedback and new insights. When considering to do a PhD, I therefore recommend to find a position where such collaborations are possible. However, this might be difficult when the PhD work is more theoretically oriented. If you consider to become a PhD-student I would recommend to get in touch with the professors working in your field of interest as soon possible. Things take time in the academic world, and funding is not always directly in place. But when you are motivated, a lot of things are possible. Finally, as it takes several years to obtain a PhD, it is very important to find a topic which you genuinely find interesting. Good luck in your work orientation, and make sure to enjoy life!