Category Archives: Graduate School

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Managing Your Adviser

The student/adviser dynamic can be one of the most rewarding or most fraught relationships in graduate school, and choosing the right mentor is one of the most important decisions you will make as a graduate student. A positive relationship with your adviser can help you reach your full potential as an academic researcher, while a negative relationship can make the process extremely difficult—so much so that some students don’t finish their programs or leave with a Master’s degree rather than complete their PhDs.

This is obviously the last outcome that any graduate student or adviser wishes for. So how do we as students make sure that we get the best out of our advisers; who are often very busy individuals with many other obligations on their plates?

Enter the idea of“managing up”. Normally we associate management with those below us, not those who supervise us. What is “managing up,” and why am I dragging this business term into an academic context? Continue reading

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Managing Public Speaking Anxiety

We all have to present our work to others at some point in our graduate careers, and this commitment to public speaking can lead to real anxiety for some individuals. I know this because I am in that group. I have been so anxious before a 12 minute talk that my hands actually went numb from the terror, my pulse started racing, and I ended up speaking so fast that my 12 minute talk became 9 minutes, tops. That leaves a lot of room for awkward silence. Continue reading

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Surf’s Up!: Thriving Amid Chaos

It’s no secret that sometimes in graduate school it feels like everything can get really chaotic. As young professionals, we are expected to produce new research and ideas while taking courses, keeping up with committee meetings, and even teaching classes to other students, and it can easily become overwhelming. While we can never truly control our environments, we can learn to grow through them and make continued progress. Continue reading

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The Lost Art of Doing One Thing at a Time

Today I submitted my very first grant application to the NIH. Funny thing is, until yesterday I thought I had 6 days to submit. However, I did not factor in early submission deadlines, so thanks to a well-timed reminder from our Grants and Contracts office I suddenly realized I had less than 24 hours to finish a grant package with all of the supporting materials or else all of my hard work would be for nothing. How did I get it all finished in time (other than lots and lots of coffee)?

Monotasking

Or, as I like to refer to it “the lost art of doing one thing at a time.” Continue reading

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5 Pointers for a Better Poster

There is a big difference between the research posters we make in graduate school compared with our seventh grade science projects. Some of us, myself included, managed to dodge poster projects all through undergrad, until one day as graduate students we find ourselves staring blankly at the submission form for a poster session at a conference.

Thankfully, posters are not as hard to make as they might seem, but there are some very common mistakes that many people make when putting together their first posters. Here are some basic pointers I have picked up that have greatly helped me with putting together and presenting posters. Continue reading

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Cultivating Happiness in Graduate School

So many people equate graduate school with the pursuit of an intellectual passion. Right alongside this line of thinking is the assumption that doing what you are passionate about should make you happy without qualifications. However, anyone who has spent any significant amount of time in graduate education knows that it can be anything but the blissful pursuit of intellectual curiosity once you add in classes, teaching, independent research, service activities, grant proposals, and somehow fitting a life in around all these priorities. We all know how difficult the graduate process can become and the toll that this takes on some individuals.

So how are we supposed to be happy when our work doesn’t make us happy? Continue reading