“The week of” publication in SECTOR

About three months ago, study association Kraket from VU Econometrics asked me to write something for their formal magazine SECTOR. The magazine is published twice a year and a recurrent item is “The week of”, in which former students tell about their week. My contribution was published in the second edition of 2018 and since the article is in Dutch, we decided to publish a English version here on my blog as well. See below!

The week of Ilka van de Werve     


Today is Easter Monday which means that I have a day off. I had a nice weekend with family visits, sports and dinners, so today I do some things in and around the house.


Like every day that I work at the VU, I get up at 6h30 to leave the house about an hour later. I use public transport to get to work, as going by car practically means being stuck in traffic jams here, so it gives me the opportunity to check the news and my email. Since I am usually one of the first in the office, it is still quiet when I arrive and I directly take care of the emails. Today we have a department meeting in the morning, one of the things we discuss is that our bachelor and master programs were top rated recently. Great news! I did the bachelor and master at the VU between 2009 and 2014 and nowadays I see that many improvements have been made, so it is really nice that the work on this got rewarded.

After graduating I worked as a business consultant for about a year, after which I decided to return to academica. I started the two years research master program at TI in 2015 and since November 2017 I am back at the VU, now as a PhD candidate at the Econometrics department. This also means that my former teachers are now my colleagues, something I had to get used to a bit, but I certainly felt welcome. Besides doing research, I am also involved in education. Last block I taught the tutorials of the master course Time Series Econometrics and since there is a deadline in two days, I help some students by email or in meetings today.

As my commuting time is an hour and I really enjoy cooking, I usually try to go home between 17h00 and 17h30. This allows me to take some time to cook and have dinner with Mark, I rather work at home afterwards if necessary than continue working first and then get some take away. And, luckily, usually this works out.


Today, fellow PhD candidate Marente is also here. We graduated at the same time from the VU and through several different steps from both sides we are now colleagues. This is of course really nice. She is at VU one day a week, because she does part-time PhD research, and the rest of the week she is at CPB. There are many ways to fill in your time as a PhD candidate, for example, I hope to do part of my research at an university abroad.

The PhD candidates of Econometrics and Finance share a work spot on the seventh floor and we try to have lunch together every day, as we do today. The visiting PhD candidates often join and sometimes also PhD candidates from other floors who we know from TI. We also have social activities outside the university, for example, we went for dinner and to the Sherlocked Escape Room two weeks ago.

Besides some meetings with students today, I also have a meeting with my supervisor (prof. dr. S.J. Koopman). We talk about a research project on which we would like to collaborate in the near future. I will develop the ideas we discussed further in the coming weeks. When I come home early in the evening, I first go for a run before having dinner. After that, I update my personal website; through blogs and social media I try to present my research to a broader audience and give insight in the life as a PhD candidate. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to contact me.


We always have the Brown Bag Seminars with our department on Thursday. The perfect moment to present your research to colleagues and receive feedback from them. It is also a good preparation if you are going to present something similar at an international conference. Last week I presented my current research and I found it really useful to do so. Unfortunately, I cannot say much more about this specific project for the moment, because I work with confidential data. I can tell that, in general, I work with crime data on both micro- and macro-level, usually panel data. I am interested in which economic and social factors cause criminal behavior and this brings all different kinds of econometric challenges.


Usually I work at home on Fridays, as I do this week. I try to work at home one day a week, but which day specifically can vary because it depends on meetings, education and seminars of course. As PhD candidates, we have a lot of flexibility and freedom in when and where we work, an aspect of this job that I really appreciate. At a day when I work at home, I start my morning with a run. Today I work a lot on my current research project and I prepare for next Monday, because then I will follow a training for PhD candidates who supervise theses.

The weekend almost starts again. A lot of my weekends are a combination of lunches/dinners, running or biking and following football (and speed skating in the winter). After a few weekends of organizing lunches and dinners for friends and family, this weekend is more quiet and I hope to get some drinks on a terrace if the weather will actually be as good as they say it will. After my run on Sunday, I will have the house for myself, because Mark will go to the match of FC Twente while I prefer watching Ajax. Hoping for good results for both teams, I feel ready for a new week!

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