Dissertation home stretch

It’s been a little over a week since I discovered, much to my horror, that I had only two weeks to finish my dissertation, rather than the six weeks I was already stressing about. Here I am, with five full days remaining before I have to defend more than three years of work.

I’m terrified, but also really encouraged by how it’s all coming together.

The general subject of my dissertation research has been pretty much nailed down for more than two years now: I’m studying the experience of people who’ve led Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) in organizations, such as the women’s group or the Hispanic/Latino group or the LGBT group. I’ve made some minor changes — interviewing people from a variety of companies and industries rather than doing one focused on my employer, for example — but the core concept is the same. The official proposal was accepted about six weeks ago, and I’ve been feverishly collecting data ever since.

What I didn’t anticipate was that the process of gathering interview participants would take so long. I’ve been doing a social media blitz to find participants, and several kind-hearted friends and colleagues have been referring me to their teammates, but momentum has been building very slowly. As an example, I did two interviews the week of March 21, two the week after, two more the week after that, then nothing for almost a week… This week I’ve done seven so far, including two today, and I have four more scheduled tomorrow.

Yes, now that I’m supposed to be in the finishing stages of writing my dissertation results and implications, people are suddenly appearing out of nowhere with hands raised.

They’re a bit like this… Except, y’know, well-intentioned and supportive.

I certainly don’t mean to sound ungrateful, it’s just… where the hell were these people a month ago?! Still, the extra interviews are helpful for my sample size, and the perspectives they’re providing are really great.

That’s the best part about all of this… As I pause in my frantic highlighting of key words and phrases from the transcripts, I reflect on what great insights these people are sharing. They represent different demographics, different types of ERGs, different companies, and different industries, but at their core they share a single common characteristic: they all generously give a lot of their time and energy to try to make their workplaces better for their teammates. And I’m so very proud to be their colleague.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to highlighting. My goal is to have this next round of data analysis done before bed tonight, so tomorrow I can get to work on writing up the results.

Honestly, I’m excited to read it. Let’s hope I write something worthwhile.

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