Wait, what does ironing have to do with graduate school? Well, I didn’t really make the connection until tonight when I was ironing some shirts. Much like ironing out the wrinkles in a dress shirt makes the shirt look crisp, clean, well-cared for, and presentable, ironing out the “wrinkles,” or shortcomings, of your professional career can help present you as a crisp, clean, valuable asset to a potential employer.
It wasn’t until I started ironing my own shirts that I began to notice when others had freshly ironed shirts or very wrinkled shirts. Similarly, it wasn’t until I began writing manuscripts that I noticed some of the nuances that make a journal article stand out among the millions out there. These things are ubiquitous and can be found everywhere – a good, firm handshake (but not a death-grip!), good eye contact, an engaging presentation (with no “um’s”), etc. People notice these things. You are hopefully starting to notice these things too, or perhaps you already do.
So go ahead – take a good, hard look at yourself and figure out where your wrinkles are. And take some steam and pressure, and iron that wrinkle out. Just like you’d do on a dress shirt. Before you know it, your papers will be cleaner, presentations more engaging, jokes funnier, and your handshake will be firm, but not too firm. And you’ll be well off on a career trajectory higher than you expected. Don’t forget to iron your shirts – people will notice. If you’ve forgotten, or never learned, here’s a nice quick guide: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yK6iQj-I_0w.