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)?
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.
One of the best aspects of earning a graduate degree is obtaining a high level of specialization in niche areas of academia. However, this specialization can lead to a somewhat limited view of total career prospects with a graduate degree. Even though many of us have focused down to one or two areas so that we have well-developed skill-sets for our academic niche, making the jump to employment outside of academia can be difficult without knowing what to expect next. One action that graduate students can take is conducting informational interviews with individuals employed in areas where you might want to work after graduation.
When new to this idea, it may be difficult at the outset to identify people that you would like to interview. If this is the case, a simple first step is to check and see what alumni from your school, and especially program, are currently doing. This is a very simple approach but also highly effective, as you will be interviewing people who came from a similar environment and then made a successful jump to new ventures. Continue reading Take your career to the next level with informational interviews→
*This post was co-written with Alicia Peaker and originally appeared on Gradhacker, a part of Inside Higher Ed.
At my high school, fewer than 10 percent of graduating seniors went on to four-year colleges. I can’t imagine what that number looks like for graduate school. Although first-generation college students are relatively well-studied (though still not well-supported), there is a major lack of research about first-generation grad students (FGGS).
There is no denying that the modern academic pursuit requires a LOT of chair time, most likely while next to or staring at a computer, possibly while surrounded with less-than-comfortable institutional furniture, and that this kind of work environment is pretty unnatural. Many of us work in less than ideal spaces during graduate school (I’m writing this while sitting on a couch made in a PRISON), so all too often we end up sitting and moving in ways that unduly strain, and even injure, our bodies over time. All this brings the question of how to keep your degree from destroying your body while working long hours both at your desk and at the bench. Continue reading Hack Your Workspace With Ergonomics→
While my last Gradhacker post focused on the written aspect of comprehensive exams, for many graduate students there is another, equally dreaded component: the oral examination.
For even the most prepared students, this can be an intense and difficult experience. However, with enough preparation and the right mindset the oral examination can actually be an enjoyable experience where you get to talk about your ideas with members of your committee.
Having just completed this hurdle myself I’d like to go over some of the things that worked and those that I wish I had known before undertaking this process. This advice is the most relevant for those of you defending a written document that you’ve had time to prepare, but some of this will be applicable to more generalized oral examination formats. Continue reading Surviving the Comprehensive Oral Exam→