I am deeply grateful for the exciting educational journey that was my time in the PhD program at the GESS of the University of Mannheim. The program exposed me to quantitative research methods and cutting-edge research through a rigorous, structured curriculum and an international seminar series. This exposure helped spark my own research ideas and set me up to execute them successfully. The program helped expand my academic network through international conference visits and research stays, and the open-minded support of the faculty allowed me to explore my research interests and fostered my independence. The collaborative, friendly atmosphere among fellow students and all faculty members enriched my experience. Looking back, the GESS doctoral program was instrumental in pursuing a career in academia as it provided comprehensive training, networking opportunities, and a supportive community. I cherish these experiences!