Lindsay, PhD Candidate, Chicago, IL

Since I started working with The Dissertation Coach — and with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir more specifically — I’ve been more productive than I have in a decade. After years in a confidence-shaking PhD environment, I had nearly forgotten what it was like to feel capable, energized, and smart. Coaching allows you to feel this way on a daily basis. Really. Coaching isn’t a miracle, but it definitely helps you to feel less terrified, less behind, less overwhelmed and, to put it bluntly, less like a “failure.” When I entered my PhD program, the lack of confidence I experienced caused me to neglect my writing and spend most of my time finding creative (if somewhat subconscious) ways to avoid my work.


As the two year “writing period” for drafting my dissertation began to approach, I noticed the familiar feeling of avoidance/dread/loserdom settling in, and knew I couldn’t spend two entire years continuing to feel anxious and awful. That’s when I found The Dissertation Coach and set up a conversation to learn more about the program. I felt better immediately, not because I was promised a miraculous turn of events, but because I was now doing something about my situation rather than simply complaining about or avoiding it. I began working with Rebecca Schwartz-Bishir in August of 2013, and I’ve found her to be one of the most organized and disciplined people I’ve ever interacted with. Rebecca has helped me to break my overwhelming dissertation project into smaller pieces, pushing me to do at least a little bit of work per day (or occasionally, a lot!) in order to make the progress I need to make. Rebecca’s rigor is matched only by her kindness, warmth and genuinely supportive nature: even if I’ve had a bad week and have made little progress, Rebecca is encouraging and forward-looking: she listens carefully, lets you know you haven’t failed — and that you won’t fail — and immediately helps you see what manageable steps you can take to get back on track. Endless thanks to The Dissertation Coach and Rebecca for helping to change my graduate school experience!