In this collaborative essay, three PhD students working in disciplines across the social sciences share their personal reflections on transforming from ‘researched’ to ‘researcher’, with reference to ‘insider’ perspectives. This position departs from traditional post-positivist assumptions of researchers as unbiased and detached from their work, and instead embraces the inherent impact their lived experiences will have. Decades of scholarship within the social sciences have highlighted the advantages afforded by insider positionality, particularly in terms of knowledge production and participant recruitment. Such a position challenges and even transforms the research relationship; still, despite the potentiality it holds, there are many challenges faced by insider researchers, and personal reflections on how this position is navigated are few and far between, particularly from a student perspective. In this essay, we share candid accounts of our experiences in this unique position and reflect on how we have navigated the challenges that have occurred. We conclude by highlighting commonalities between our experiences and identify three key messages we wish for other early-career academics in similar positions to hear.