Sophie Kaspar: Combining Ph.D. and parenthood

Sophie, did you at any time have doubts about starting your Ph.D., being a mom of a two-year-old back in fall 2015?

I never had actual doubts about starting my Ph.D., however was thinking intensively about the optimal institute and conditions to conduct ambitious doctoral studies while having a family at the same time.

How did the CGA support your decision and facilitate your integration?

I didn't mention my private situation during the CGA recruitment process in order to prevent a potential impact on my application. After having been accepted, I was close to decline the offer in favour of another opportunity, however the extremely collaborative environment, especially with the coordinators of the graduate programme as well as the excellent infrastructure for families, convinced me to join the CGA. Not only is there a family room at both CECAD and the MPI Age but there is also financial support for multiple family friendly career measures such as babysitting and backup service, a contingent of day care spots, mentoring programs and maternity leave fellowships, just to name a few. 

What are the biggest challenges you face being a Ph.D. candidate and a parent at the same time? What are the benefits?

Dividing the (only) 24 hours of a day on the two things I love most, science and family, can certainly be quite challenging. To compensate the lack of time I am extremely focused and plan my days meticulously. I never regretted my choice of combining family and Ph.D. studies at any time – in fact I am drawing a lot of strength from both my exciting research work in the lab and my terrific family when encountering any kind of challenges. Just go for it!