Rachel Searcey

PhD student

Can you explain what your research project is about?

My research looks at the different types of support sexually exploited young women can access or receive during their transition into emerging adulthood - to reduce the pathway into adult street sex work.

What were you doing before you started your PhD?

Before starting my PhD I was a senior practitioner for a local authority in safeguarding children’s services. 

Why did you choose Loughborough University?

I chose Loughborough University because of its reputation in policy led research and its location.

How are you funding your studies?

Full Studentship.

What do you enjoy the most about studying a PhD with us?

I enjoy being able to self-direct my research, which is really important to me. Also being able to access a wide-range of academic support, from staff in criminology and social policy, to human geography, for example. 

The connection between my fellow postgraduate researchers is also very important as it can be a very isolating experience.

Describe what it is like to study a PhD, and how this differs from undergraduate/masters study?

Studying a PhD has given me the freedom to read what interests me and develop my own ideas from that. Whilst direction is important, you are guided by your interests and passion unlike with an undergraduate degree.

Describe a day in the life of a PhD student?

No one day is the same, but it all starts with checking emails, reviewing previous days' 'to-do list' and updating my calendar. It is really important to be as organised as possible. Then I turn off email and start to read what I wrote the day before to start filling my mind with thoughts before moving I start to write again. I make sure I take a break every 20 minutes for a max of 5 minutes to check emails and then it all starts again. 

I don’t have a set time of when I come into the office, but I do make sure I finish around 4 or 5pm. Time outside of the thesis is important. But to complete the day, I always start a journal article or book chapter early evening – I see this as my downtime to help the flow for the next day.

Why did you decide to undertake a PhD in your area?

My pathway was driven by the stories of the women that I was supporting many years ago. Without their sharing of their early traumatic experiences, I wouldn’t be in the phase of my life that I am in now. It is to these women that I dedicate my thesis to and the reason why I started this journey at such a late stage in my life.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I wish I had a £1 for every time I was asked this, I have no idea – maybe research into policy or an extension on my thesis, National Crime Agency, United Nations, lectureship, or whale watching of the coast of Canada that has nothing to do with my PhD. The great thing about doing a PhD is that it is the beginning to something new and exciting.

If you could give one piece of advice to a future PhD student, what would it be?

Be super organised - a place for everything and everything in its place e.g. a book catalogue - what book did you get and why? Useful or not? And so on…

Diary – keep up to date always.

And lastly… the work never finishes, you never seem to complete the day - don’t feel bad about this, it is normal PhD life!