Today’s blog is guest-written by Susanna Harris, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
thing to hear that everything is going to be okay. It’s another to know it and
make it that way.
At the end
of a lab meeting where I had outlined my last of six years getting my PhD, my
advisor announced she would be moving the lab from North Carolina to Massachusetts
in about six months. Just when everything had settled into place, this
announcement turned my bookshelf of plans on its side once again. Suddenly, I
didn’t know what would happen next.
I chose to
go to grad school partly to challenge myself to accept uncertainty. When I
started my PhD in Microbiology in 2014, I thought this would mean reading new
papers and adjusting experiments accordingly. As it has turned out, the real
challenge has been to constantly get back up as life and graduate school knock
me flat on my ass. Yes, I needed strength to power through, but even more than
that, I needed resilience.
Think back to your grad school days. Think about a time when you were struggling with challenges either inside or outside the lab. Maybe you dealt with failed experiments, a toxic lab culture or mental health problems. For graduate students, these have been real, everyday experiences for as long as anyone can remember. The Hello PhD podcast, hosted by Joshua Hall and Daniel Arneman, aims to address those problems. We’re excited to announce that beginning with Episode 94 (released June 11, 2018), we are now partnering with Hello PhD to promote their mission to support young scientists in training.
Hello PhD will be celebrating its third anniversary in July 2018, and in the past three years they’ve covered topics from grad school admissions to choosing a career path, and everything in between. They’ve interviewed post-docs, science communicators and students with interesting experiences to share. Their most popular episode ever, “When Research Sucks,” discusses what to do when research starts to drag you down. After 94 episodes, they still haven’t lost sight of their mission to make the grad school experience better for both current and future students. Continue reading “Hello PhD + Promega: Partnering to Support Young Scientists”
5. No one in your family bothers to ask you what you’re studying anymore.
The longer you spend in a Ph.D. program the more opportunities your family has to ask you what you’re doing in school. No doubt, you’ve spent the first couple years of graduate school going to family functions and trying to explain to your grandma what a molecule is. She will eventually come up with an explanation of what you are doing that she can share with her friends. Her description of your work may or may not be correct, but she’s not going to bother trying to understand it anymore. “Good for your honey, you’re so smart!”
Grad school is no walk in the park. Whether the topic is English or Astrophysics, most grad students would agree that the journey to the coveted PhD can simply be described as “hard”- academically, financially, mentally. It is very important to have an outlet for the associated stress such as a hobby or exercise. My outlet was music. Music is very important in my life. It is so important that most people close to me have their own soundtrack that plays in my head when I think of them. Needless to say, music played a big part in saving my sanity during my 7.5 years in grad school. As time went on, there were several songs that marked important milestones and emotions I experienced along the way. When I defended my thesis, I decided to leave the department with a musical story of how I made it through. I created a compilation CD of all these songs to share with the department and any other struggling grad students I encountered. The CD has a custom label featuring the structure of the protein I studied, cardiac troponin C.
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