Why doing a PhD at the department is so great

The PhD Economics Students’ Society offers activities outside of the books and contributes to the friendly atmosphere amongst the PhD students in the department of Economics.

It all started very informally back in 2017 with a couple of sessions initiated by first year Econ PhDs Kushneel Prakash, Justin McKinley and Ratul Das Chaudhury where everyone got together and brought plates of food to share. Once they informed the department what they were organising they received some financial support as encouragement and the society was formalised with Kushneel and Ratul taking charge of the activities since the middle of last year.

- The department was very supportive. I think they like that we get together and do stuff outside of our studies, says Kushneel Prakash.

The PhD Economics society also received financial aid from Monash Postgraduate Association which paid for some of their activities, most of which have centred around food. Lunches, barbecues, a Christmas party and an in-house 2018 World Cup soccer predictions.

PhD Economicss students' society

-It’s always a good place to start, says Kushneel.

This year has started off with a roof top barbecue hosted at Kushneel’s apartment where partners and kids were invited.

- It is very important to involve the partners and kids of the PhD students as they are part of our journey, he says.

Kushneel feels that the support of the society is very helpful for his academic progress and his sense of inclusion at Monash.

- There is always someone to discuss the seminars with or ask questions. The exchange of ideas is good.

The reason Kushneel himself ended up at Monash is rather random. In 2017 he attended a workshop and met Russel Smyth who encouraged him to apply to the PhD program. Kushneel had done all his undergrad studies at the University of South Pacific in Fiji, but for his PhD he wanted to go abroad.

- Monash ticked all the boxes in terms of ranking and it was also closer to home than some other options, he says.

He only has one more year left. His research focuses on microeconomics and development. More specifically home ownership, fuel prices and subjective wellbeing.

The best thing about doing a PhD at Monash department of Economics is the welcoming culture.

- I like the kind of open door policy we have with staff here. You can easily talk to anybody and ask for help.

He believes this has assisted him greatly. If there are times when he doesn’t understand something but feels he ought to know, he’ll go ask some of the younger researchers for help so he doesn’t have to disturb his supervisor. His advice is to others interested in doing a PhD is clear and simple:

- Just go for it and have a crack. You may have to change your initial idea, I did, but it will only make it better. Be passionate and Monash Economics is a great place to do a PhD, says Kushneel Prakash.

If there is anything more he would wish for from the department it would be a stand-up desk.

-I think it would improve my productivity even more to be able to stand up and work, he says.