Wednesday, May 29, 2013

10 Things I Learned in my First Year of Graduate School

Blogging during grad school was a lot harder than I thought! Now that it's summer, I finally had the opportunity to write down a list of 10 Things I Learned in my First Year of Grad School! Here it goes (by the way, I learned WAY many more things but listing out ten was plenty enough!). Please share, comment, and/or provide your own list of things you've learned. I would love to read about your experiences.

  1. Whatever you need to remember, write it down. Make a list and enter it into your calendar. Even personal REMINDERS (i.e., connect with loved ones).  
  2. Connect with classmates. The effort put forth into nurturing intellectual and personal relationships with my cohort has been a lifesaver. Grad school can be lonely especially when you talk to your friends, family, and/or co-workers. While they can sympathize, they don't really know that you were about to bash your head against the wall trying to understand Judith Butler's Gender Trouble!
  3. Me Time. So, I suck at this particular thing called "Me Time" because when I'm not with my Mom, partner, family, or friends...I'm usually in a meeting. On top of having a full time job, balancing and nurturing my relationships counts on my re-energizing my mind and soul. This is a tough one but I definitely try getting in some "Me" time through meditation and I've even gone back to knitting. Important note: Surfing the Internet and/or checking all your social networks...DOES NOT qualify as "Me" time. Trust me on this one.
  4. Take breaks! Whether it's taking a walk outside, playing with your pet, watching half an hour of mindless television (I don't really watch TV but still a good break activity), knitting, or making yourself a cup of your favorite tea, I've learned the importance of stepping away from the computer monitor. The French psychoanalytic theory you were trying to write's not going anywhere!
  5. If you're going to procrastinate, make it "productive procrastination." I can't take credit for this gem. I stole it from Austin Kleon's book, Steal Like an Artist. The entire book is such a fast read but you'll find yourself nodding all the way through it. In particular, his idea of "productive procrastination" totally resonated with me. It's actually true and great advice. If you're gonna stall on finishing up that paper, you might as well jot down your to-dos or list the problems you are having with your thesis! Important note: Again, "productive procrastination" is NOT updating any of your statuses on social networking sites. That sh*t ain't productive!
  6. Take notes and write about what you read. It's just good practice! Unless you are reading strictly for pleasure, having a notebook (electronic or good ole paper and pen), note taking and writing your impressions of a text is imperative to understanding it. Yes, even if you write, "This was stupid as hell" over and over again. After the 50th time of writing the aforementioned statement, proceed to write down all the reasons why you think a text is stupid or doesn't make sense.
  7. Support and be present for your cohort. Not only are they fellow classmates, they are potential partners and collaborators. You need them just like they need you. Support, challenge, and uplift one another. It will yield intellectual and emotional benefits. 
  8. Locate the funniest stuff you can find! Humor makes grad school life bearable! Here are my favorites: PhD Stress, The Lisa Frankfurt School, PhD Comics, and Calamaties of Nature.
  9. Have people read your work. This is important. If you have people interested in what you're doing, why not have them read through excerpts of your work. See if what you're saying makes sense and/or provides a level of accessibility to your reader. Writing is important to me. BUT it's because I possess the hope for a reader. While I write for myself, I have to constantly keep in mind that I want a dialogue. My work needs to resonate and make sense in order for this reader-writer relationship to develop.
  10. Learn from constructive and productive criticism. I'd like to think that working in the corporate world for quite some time would come in handy. It did. After years of performance reviews, well, grad school is not that different. It's important to understand that when your cohort and/or professors don't understand you and provide a critique, it's in your best interest to take it in...EVEN if you don't agree. It's about partnering to produce great work. NOT about your ego. 

No comments:

Post a Comment