So how would I describe my average day at IU as a graduate student?
I like schedules and being successful in graduate school requires some scheduling.
I wake up in the mornings at 6:45 am to feed my dog. Yes, I have a pet in grad school, which is not recommended, but he is very helpful of keeping me on schedule and being mindful. Then I prepare my stuff and watch a bit of news.
I get to work around 8 am and look at my to do list for the day. Usually I prepare the list the night before at work. The next 11 hours are a mixture of running reactions, analyzing results, reading literature, answering emails.
Of course, I take a lunch for break. I like to leave the Chemistry building at least once a day. I use it to clear my head, which I highly recommend to anyone in graduate school. I finally go home and have dinner at around 7pm and decompress from my day. Interacting with my dog reminds me to be mindful and present and not to dwell on my mental to do list for the next day.
I am an avid fan of boardgames. So many of the lessons that I have learned so far in my PhD journey can be tied back to particular experiences shared around the gaming table.
One of my favorite board games is Settlers of Catan. If you have never heard of Settlers of Catan, I recommend that you create a new tab, go to Amazon, and buy it immediately.
Settlers of Catan is a strategy resource management game in which the objective is to gain resources (wood, sheep, wheat, brick, and ore) and build/settle on the island of Catan. Pretty simple, right? Well, as with many things in life, it is not as simple as it seems. In the game, you must trade with players in order accomplish your goal of building as many settlements as you need in order to win. This can make the game quite an experience.
As in Catan, you must be diligent in research as you bring together your resources (data, time, subjects, ideas, and finally publications) to be successful. An excellent element of the game is that collaboration amongst the players is almost always required to be able to win. This means that learning from your advisor and peers on how to improve your research should be considered a resource that will allow you to become a winner (i.e. published first author on an article/chapter/book, snag an awesome postdoc,or whatever the goal is in your field).
However, you must keep in mind that everyone around the table wants to win, so YOU must be resourceful and meticulous in your strategy/approach. Make sure that the people you align with have your best interests at heart, and don’t be afraid to invest in others as well. Research is important, so make sure that you utilize and maximize your resources to ensure that you achieve a win!
Here’s to playin’ the game. I’ll see you at the board.
When one is asked to research potential graduate school programs, what exactly does that consist of? Similar to researching for an undergraduate institution, this process is just a level above as the decision you make could help catapult your career. The three things people most commonly should look for are:
1. Does the school have the program that you want? Make sure the school has the department and program that most interest you. You also want to make sure that the institution you are considering has at least 3 professors (or advisors) you would like to work for, just in case your top choice is unable to take you for any reason (i.e. loss of funding, does not have enough space to accommodate you, denied tenure, etc.).
2. Location, location, location. When drafting a list of potential schools, know what states or countries will be compatible with you. Remember, this program will last anywhere for 4-7 years so make sure you pick a place where you can deal with the weather and cost of living. A trap that some students get caught up in is the stipend amount; make sure to take into account the cost of living. For example, if you are offered a place in Indiana with a stipend of $24,000 a year and offered a place in California for $27,000 a year, even though the California position is offering more money, you will get more “bang for you buck” in Indiana due to the cost of living.
3. Know the rank of the institution. It is important to know how the programs you are interested in ranks nationally. While you should not limit yourself to only ranked programs, getting your degree from a nationally recognized institution in your field can give you an edge when it is time for you to start applying for jobs. The ranking of various graduate programs can be found here:http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools.
Other concerns such as having a family, medical conditions and job restrictions may also add into your choice for a graduate school.
Using every and all forms of technology is completely acceptable and recommended in grad school. Indiana University makes it easy for people like me to understand new email interfaces, citation management softwares, setting up wireless printing, and more.
- University Information Technology Services – the technological support and services for the entire university. I have taken classes on Excel and HTML for my graduate assistantships to help me learn new skills and brush up on others. There are various workshops and trainings you can sign up for through the university.
- After I purchased my
pride and joy, bane of my existence, laptop I had to download some appropriate software such as Office for MAC, Adobe, and the wonderful Endnote. These software programs and many more are available through the university.
- Questions or issues with software, internet logins, pass phrases not working, or email servers giving you trouble…well the campus support center will answer questions by phone, email, in person, and by chat.
- There is even a place to purchase hardware on campus right in the Indiana Memorial Union and discounted items through IU Surplus.
What I have described here is only a small part of the tech services and support here on campus. I am still learning about new tips and tricks all the time.
Sometimes, writing a dissertation can be exhilarating. There is nothing like that day that you check something major over the ToDo list. On other days, however, it can be lonely and/or boring. On those days, it really helps to reach out to others who have been where you are. Here are links to a few of those blogs:
I hope they help you remember that you are not alone.
Last year, I fell into my summer internship. That means I found my internship through networking with classmates and their connections. How the story goes: Continue reading
I am currently dissertating. It is a liberating AND frightening experience. Liberating because I control my scheduled (for the most part). Frightening because there is no schedule. Sigh! Continue reading
Managing your time as a PhD student is exhausting. I often find myself blinking at the sheer number of tasks that need to be completed. Since the start of this academic year, I have juggled revisions on my parts of my dissertation, learning Swahili, attending research skills workshops, writing conference presentations, teaching, and managing my three non-dissertation research projects. Even though I have experience in these areas, they still take lots of time. I dream about having a research assistant. LOL.
I know that there are two types of people in my PhD world: (1) those who are productive by nature; and (2) everyone else. This post is for that second group. Continue reading
I really enjoy the content and skills that I am learning in my Higher Education and Student Affairs grad program. However, one of my research interests lies in Asian American issues and there was no specific concentration in my grad program. So, how did I work my magic to find a mentor and discover my research interests? Continue reading
When it comes to graduate school, most people’s first thoughts jump to experts in training in a narrow field of study, but further consideration might reveal the truth – graduate school, in fact research and teaching in general, is very reliant on collaboration. It is a key component that differentiates the good scholars from the best, and is a skill that is carefully acquired and refined throughout a career. If you need further evidence of this, just take a stroll around the IUB campus – you will see a building constructed especially for collaborative work, which is even named the Multidisciplinary Science Building II (or MSB II for short).
The recently constructed Multidisciplinary Science Building II (MSBII) on the IUB campus. Photo by Ren-Jay S.