"Trust yourself. Trust your supervisors. Always think about how to dismantle a huge project into different small and manageable missions."

Sociological Studies PhD student Julin Huang
Julin Huang
PhD student
Sociological Studies
After graduating from both undergraduate and masters degrees in communication studies, Julin landed a public relations (PR) position in a Fortune 500 company. Julin's path changed, however, when she decided to quit her job to pursue PhD study in the Department with leading digital society academics.
Sociological Studies PhD student Julin Huang

Why did you choose PhD study at The University of Sheffield?

My main reason for choosing to study at Sheffield was because of my excellent supervisory team. I was immediately attracted by my primary supervisor Professor Helen Kennedy when I was browsing different PhD programs. Helen focuses on how developments in digital technology are experienced in everyday life, including digital inequality and related mechanisms for change and resistance. I’m intrigued by these areas, and it is a pleasure to spend my PhD journey on these topics. I’m also very interested in the work of my secondary supervisor Dr Łukasz Szulc. Both Łukasz and Helen are VERY responsible supervisors. I feel lucky to be supervised by them.

Tell us a little about your higher education journey to date.

I obtained a first-class BA in Communication Studies from International College Beijing in China Agricultural University (a joint program with the University of Colorado Denver) in 2016. I then completed my MA at Sun Yet-San University in Communication Studies in 2018. After that, I got a PR position in a Fortune 500 company, but I finally figured out where my passion is. So I quit my job and joined the department to pursue my PhD in Autumn 2020!

Tell us a little about your current PhD research and why you chose this area of research...

My research explores representations of rurality on two popular Chinese short-video platforms, Douyin and Kuaishou, that are produced by social media influencers, with a particular focus on commodification. 

My research interest originates from my long-lasting interest in representations of rurality in China. In both of my BA’s and MA’s dissertations, I focused on how a Chinese reality show represented rural people and rural areas. Now, my attention has shifted from mainstream media institutions to social media platforms.

What have been the highlights of your PhD so far? Similarly, what challenges have you faced?

Personally, I think the highlight of my PhD so far was I completed an early Confirmation Review. I passed the viva a month earlier than the original schedule. I was literally burnt out before I submitted all the materials, but it was worthwhile! No sweat, no sweet! : )

Challenges mainly come from data collection. I need to recruit my research participants from practitioners working in the short-video industry. There are many uncertainties I need to cope with.

What are your plans for the future, following the completion of your PhD?

I have tried different types of jobs before I pursued my PhD. I’m pretty sure that I want to build my career in academia after completing my PhD.

What advice would you offer to new students?

Trust yourself. Trust your supervisors. Always think about how to dismantle a huge project into different small and manageable missions. 

Most importantly, take care of your mental health and physical health (especially your waist and your neck)! Don’t overload yourself. Try to exercise at regular times. 

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