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A Day in the Life...


My name is Luke Langlinais, and I’m a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Management.  I moved from Louisiana to Morgantown with my wife and kids to pursue my Ph.D. after spending ten years in healthcare administration.  Every day is little bit different at WVU, but in an effort to give you an idea of life in this program, here is a snapshot of one of my typical days.

8:00am: My day starts later than some because I’m more of a night person. I spend the first hour getting ready for the day and having breakfast with my family.

9:00am: I leave for campus. I chose to live close to campus, so that I can quickly walk or take public transportation. On-campus parking can be expensive and hard to find at times. I live a little more than a mile away, and my morning and evening walks are what I consider my daily exercise routine. I arrive on campus with enough time to drop off my bag at my desk in the office I share with the other PhD students in the John Chambers College of Business and Economics building.

9:30am: I teach Organizational Behavior to a class of 30 students three days a week. I did not teach in my first year. At the beginning of my second year I became a teaching assistant, and now I have my own course. After lecturing, I speak with the students and then head back to my office.  

10:30am: I spend the next hour and a half finalizing my reading for my PhD seminar. I have approximately 200 pages of journal articles to read each week for each seminar. The methods and statistics classes typically have a combination of journal articles and book chapter readings. I’ve taken three courses in each of the four semesters in the first two years.

12:00pm: I grab lunch from the Mountainlair, a downtown restaurant, or the office refrigerator, if I planned ahead. This program is turning me into a coffee drinker, so I sometimes find a café.

12:30pm: I go to seminar for a few hours. There are typically 2-10 students, depending on the course, with one faculty member facilitating. I may have to lead discussion, submit questions or reactions, or some other form of class participation.  

3:30pm: I file away my readings from that week and print off copies of the next assigned readings so that I always have them with me.

4:30pm: I spend some time conducting research for an ongoing project I have with one of the faculty members. I do my best to check and respond to e-mails on my phone, during short periods of down time. I try to do the heavy lifting from my desk, which includes tasks such as reading, writing, researching, and data analysis.

5:00pm: I walk home to have dinner and spend time with my family.

8:30pm: After the children are asleep, I’m able to spend a couple more hours working. 

12:00am: I try to go to bed so I can get 8 hours of sleep.

Remember, every day, week, and semester is different, but that’s one of the nice aspects of this field. There is a lot of autonomy with how to spend your time. Discipline and organization are very important and directly affect the level of stress throughout the week. There are deadlines, departmental meetings, and other appointments that pop up throughout the week as well. However, I do my best to work hard and stay focused during the week so that I can enjoy some down time over the weekend. For my own mental health, I prioritize things like sleeping in on Saturday, going to church on Sunday, watching a movie with my wife, and taking the kids to the park. That being said, there is always reading or writing to do as well. 

Let me start by introducing myself. My name is Alanna Hirshman and I am currently a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Department of Management at the John Chambers College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University. I entered this Ph.D. program in August 2016, directly after graduating Frostburg State University with dual bachelor degrees in Human Resource Management and Economics. I currently live in an apartment about 3 miles from the downtown campus with my fiancé Zach (who is also a 3rd year Ph.D. student at West Virginia University) and our fur-baby, Ellie Roo (a year and a half old border collie mix)! I recently passed comprehensive examinations and am now able to focus my time on research, writing my dissertation proposal, and teaching!

By focusing on these three aspects of my career simultaneously, time management is key to a well-balanced life. With that being said, I would like mention that each day in the life of a Ph.D. student is a little bit different. Some days are more relaxed, while others are more demanding. The following is simply an outline of a “typical” day in my life as a Ph.D. student – but again, please remember that there are rarely typical days in the life of a Ph.D. student. Each day is a new adventure that I am absolutely blessed to experience! Please enjoy my typical day below.

I usually try to wake up around 7:00 a.m. each day. I try to take a few minutes to wake up, get refreshed, and say my daily prayers to start off each day on a positive note. I recently started going to the gym again, so I try to head there around 7:45 a.m. for about 45 minutes. I find that running and working-out really helps clear my head and calm me down. I try to be back at my apartment by 8:30 a.m. where I clean up, eat a quick, but healthy breakfast, and take Ellie Roo out for her second walk of the morning (Zach takes her out earlier right when we wake up)!

Zach and I usually car pool to work and we try to leave our apartment everyday around 9:30 a.m. Even though we only live around 3 miles away from campus, there is some morning traffic, so I usually walk into my office and begin working around 10:00 a.m. I spend the next 30 minutes getting organized by checking my to-do list and schedule for the focal day. Once I have my work-day planned, I head downstairs around 10:30 a.m., for an hour or so meeting with one of my advisors to discuss research, the recent progress, and plans for the upcoming week.

After our meeting, I head back to my office to hold office hours and work on research and/or my dissertation from 11:30 a.m. until 2:20 p.m. I usually spend the first 15 minutes or so eating a pre-packed lunch! I typically pack something along the lines of a salad, grilled chicken, and veggies. I also use this time for office hours. While many students do not take advantage of office hours, those whom do typically use this time to ask questions about class material, paper drafts, or even advise regarding jobs after graduation. When students don’t drop by, I use this time to research and work on my dissertation proposal. I am currently working on two conference proposals, so I am currently using this time to write and edit these proposals.

From 2:30 p.m. to 3:20 I teach Contemporary Business Strategy (BCOR 460) to forty-two undergraduate seniors. I absolutely love teaching business strategy. I use this time to both motivate the next generation to have ethical business practices and refresh on the basic premises of strategic business. I usually hang-back after class for about 10 minutes or so to speak with students about upcoming assignments and answer any questions that they have. After I answer all of the students’ questions, I return to my office to gather my belongs and head to the parking lot to be picked up by Zach between 3:45 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Once we get home around 4:15 p.m., we spend the next 30 minutes taking Ellie Roo for her afternoon walk and having a light snack. I then spend the next 2 hours or so (e.g., 4:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.) working on research and my dissertation again. I then take about an hour break for dinner and Ellie Roo’s evening walk. After dinner, I pick up my work again for about 2 more hours (e.g., 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.). I usually use this time to wrap up things that were on my to-do list for the focal day and prep for the upcoming class.

Finally, I spend the rest of my day getting ready for bed, saying my evening prayers, taking Ellie out for a quick bathroom break, and watching a TV show. I usually try to head to bed between 11:00 p.m. and midnight. I find that I am much more functional the following day when I have at least 7 to 8 hours of rest. 

I hope that the above gives you a little glimpse into the ‘typical” life of a Ph.D. student. However, I would like to remind everyone reading this that each and every day is a little different. For example, the above is an outline of a typical day when I schedule meetings and teach on the same day. I also have typical days when I do not have teaching or meeting obligations. On these days, I usually spend a majority of my day (e.g., 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.) working on research and my dissertation, while taking breaks to eat and walk Ellie Roo. In addition, it is also important for me to prioritize relaxation and family time. I usually take off Friday evening (e.g., after 6:00 p.m.) to unwind and watch a Redbox movie, Saturday evening (e.g., 6:00 p.m.) to go see a movie and/or go out to dinner, and Sunday morning to attend church.

With all of the above being said, there are also deadlines, extra-meetings with students and/or co-authors, grading tests and/or final papers, etc. that shift the “typical” day to become untypical. With all of the crazy schedules, the long-hours, the new readings, etc. each day is flexible, fun, and a new adventure that I am blessed with and love! Here is to living the life of a Ph.D. student and creating your own “typical” day! Enjoy!