PhD student profile Maria-Teresa Ferazzoli
What was the best or most useful thing about the course you studied in the Department of Sociological Studies?
The Department provided a series of training and useful workshops to support the development of each PhD student. At each stage, I was able to find modules to address my specific needs, from improving my academic writing to presenting at academic conferences, or establishing partnerships in the community. Doing a PhD in the Department of Sociological Studies helped me to develop my critical thinking and to equip myself with the skills for the comprehension of the social world. It was an essential step to develop my researcher identity and improve the confidence in my expertise.
Why did you decide to study at the University of Sheffield?
I decided to study at the University of Sheffield for several reasons. First of all, it is a prestigious institution. It has a long-standing tradition of social research and, more specifically, the Department of Sociological Studies has been ranked in the top 100 universities globally for its subject for several years. However, when I decided to apply for a PhD, I was working in a different field. Doing a PhD requires dedication and time and it can be quite expensive. PhD students in the Department of Sociological Studies can access various funding programmes and there is opportunity to work as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Moreover, I was looking for a university that was easily accessible, because I was not able to relocate to an another city. In this sense, Sheffield is the best solution for commuters. The train station very well connected and the University is easily reachable through the Supertram line.
What is your fondest memory from your time in Sheffield?
A PhD is a long and emotional path. You spend four years of your life completely absorbed in studying and writing about something that you care about. For this reason, there are several moments that I will never forget of my experience at the University of Sheffield. The day I met my supervisors for the first time, which was also the first time for me in Sheffield. The day of my registration when, for the first time, I felt that finally my dream of doing a PhD was coming true. The day of my first presentation at the postgraduate research students' conference in our department. The Department became a sort of home.
What is Sheffield like to live in? Do you like the city?
I think the city is amazing. It offers so many opportunities for your social life. There is something for anyone’s taste. I think one of the most important qualities of Sheffield is that it is a very alive and international city, and everything is at your fingertips too. This makes your life much easier, especially when you are busy studying. Although I was a commuter, Sheffield is a very welcoming city and I really felt a part of the city. This is because the University is an integral part of the community.
What has your career path been since graduation?
I would define myself as a 'work in progress' researcher . I am at that stage where I need to move from the protected environment of the PhD life to the stage where you give your research a place in the world. Fortunately, the University of Sheffield and the Department of Sociological Studies have provided me with the confidence and all the skills that I need to develop my career. I feel that whenever I need the Department and my supervisors, they will be there to support me.
Tell us a little about your current role?
I am working as a Research Associate in the Department of Sociological Studies on Professor Kate Reed’s project. This is a very exciting opportunity for me to learn how to work on a big, funded project. In particular, this role has allowed me to develop new skills, for instance regarding public engagement and how to achieve impact in research Engagement activities and public engagement. I feel lucky to collaborate in this study because this project is the visible sign of how good research can make a real difference on people’s everyday life.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
My dream is to continue doing research. I don’t know if I will do it in academia, but I know that I want to have an impact on mental health policies. The PhD at the University of Sheffield was my first step toward this. This path gave me all the skills that I require to establish myself as an expert in this subject.
What piece of advice would you offer new students to the Department of Sociological Studies at Sheffield?
The University of Sheffield and the Department of Sociological Studies provide an amazing and inspiring setting to develop your skills and expertise. Any training and workshops that are available are places where you have the opportunity to refine your thinking, understand where you stand and determine what you want to do in your future. Take any chance to be active and involved. Supervisors and department staff are all very friendly and ready to help. Never be worried to ask for help and support. If you are open to it, you will find several opportunities to improve and develop yourself. Finally and most importantly, the Department is not just the place where you can grow professionally, it is also a place where you will meet some friends for life. For this reason, my main advice is to live it to its fullest.
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