Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Being an Involved Grad Student

A.K.A How to being involved AND score free meals

I'm a fairly involved graduate student. Rachel is as well. The benefits are numerous, but some of the top reasons we like to be involved include contributing to our respective departments and universities, building our C.V., access to amazing workshops/events/etc, in addition to always knowing where the free food on campus is located! Below are some of our top ways for you to get involved within your own programs!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Questions to Ask when Choosing a Graduate Adviser

A few weeks back, my graduate group had its prospective student weekend, where all the top ranked applicants get to come and meet professors and current students.  Meeting and greeting all these hopeful students got me and a few others thinking about the process of choosing a graduate adviser.  STS wrote a bit about how to find and contact prospective PIs in the past, but that post doesn’t touch on how to make a decision once you have a few professors interested in working with you.  In many academic fields, your relationship with your major professor is the most important professional relationship you will have for many, many years.  Even when you earn your degree, a prospective employer will still want to know what your mentor thought of you.  So, it’s crucial to choose a person who you feel will not only aid your academic growth, but who you are generally compatible with on a personal level.  You don’t need to be BFFs, but things like having drastically mismatched communication styles, academic expectations, or assumptions about levels of involvement can make the road to degree completion much more hazardous.  And, on a broader scale, it’s really not worth it to work with Bigshot-Publishes-Yearly-In-Nature if they are unkind, unhelpful, or unavailable.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of pretty well every question I have ever asked, been asked, or wished I’d asked during the process of choosing a graduate mentor.  I’ve divided it into three main groups:  questions to ask the professor, questions to ask graduate students in their lab, and questions to ask any graduate student in the program.  You certainly don’t have to ask all these things, but do a little soul searching beforehand and think about what really matters to you.  You are making a commitment to work with someone regularly for the next several years.  Sure, they are interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them.    

Despite the fact that this list is long, it’s obviously not exhaustive.  Give more suggestions in the comments below!        

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