Jump to content

madbiochemist

Members
  • Content Count

    80
  • Joined

  • Last visited


Reputation Activity

  1. Like
    madbiochemist got a reaction from StHoly in Biomedical Engineering/Bioengineering Applicant Profiles for 2019 Admission   
    Hello, hello! Another January, another influx of anxious applicants waiting to hear back from prospective schools. 
    I'm a current 4th year BME PhD student at Johns Hopkins and am glad to see that several of you submitted applications here. I'm in Cell and Tissue Engineering, so if you have questions about research opportunities or Hopkins life, feel free to shoot me a message. I can already tell you that my lab will be recruiting heavily this year, as we'd like to accept a few students to replace our growing geriatric population of PhDs. 
    Just wanted to pop in and wish you all good luck! 
    Remember to drink lots of tea and relax--all will come together.
    -MBC
  2. Like
    madbiochemist got a reaction from adamechanical in Trying to go into engineering with non-engineering degree... Would taking engineering classes from local community college help?   
    I just (as in yesterday) graduated with my B.S. in Biochemistry and am going straight on to get my Ph.D. in BME from Johns Hopkins. If possible, I suggest working in a lab that is similar to your area of interest, getting an internship in BME (like others have mentioned), and taking a couple of classes (focus on math as opposed to engineering). I also recommend applying to both M.S. and Ph.D. programs. There are some schools that will flat out reject anyone who doesn't have an engineering degree for their Ph.D. program (UCSD, I'm talking about you), but other schools like Hopkins that will reject engineers that don't have any biology background. Play the field and contact some admissions representatives from various schools to try and determine whether you would be a good fit for their program before applying. 
    Good luck! It's definitely possible!
  3. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from sgaw10 in Biomedical Engineering/Bioengineering Applicant Profiles for 2019 Admission   
    Hello, hello! Another January, another influx of anxious applicants waiting to hear back from prospective schools. 
    I'm a current 4th year BME PhD student at Johns Hopkins and am glad to see that several of you submitted applications here. I'm in Cell and Tissue Engineering, so if you have questions about research opportunities or Hopkins life, feel free to shoot me a message. I can already tell you that my lab will be recruiting heavily this year, as we'd like to accept a few students to replace our growing geriatric population of PhDs. 
    Just wanted to pop in and wish you all good luck! 
    Remember to drink lots of tea and relax--all will come together.
    -MBC
  4. Like
    madbiochemist got a reaction from IceCream & MatSci in Biomedical Engineering/Bioengineering Applicant Profiles for 2019 Admission   
    Hello, hello! Another January, another influx of anxious applicants waiting to hear back from prospective schools. 
    I'm a current 4th year BME PhD student at Johns Hopkins and am glad to see that several of you submitted applications here. I'm in Cell and Tissue Engineering, so if you have questions about research opportunities or Hopkins life, feel free to shoot me a message. I can already tell you that my lab will be recruiting heavily this year, as we'd like to accept a few students to replace our growing geriatric population of PhDs. 
    Just wanted to pop in and wish you all good luck! 
    Remember to drink lots of tea and relax--all will come together.
    -MBC
  5. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Jltf in Biostat MS Vanderbilt or Hopkins?   
    Hi! I'm a current JHU PhD student. You'll want advice on the neighborhoods in Baltimore if you decide to live here. Each neighborhood is different. I live in Mount Vernon and it's really safe; probably one of the safest in Baltimore. It's the historical district and has lots of music, entertainment, and awesome restaurants. A lot of  young professionals live here. Consequently, it's also one of the more expensive areas. Fell's point is another really nice one. It's got a lot of bars and restaurants and young people living there. I think you can walk to the School of Medicine if you're in Upper Fell's. Charles Village and Hampden are also really nice, but they're closer to the undergrad campus than the School of Medicine. My point is, there are a lot of really nice, affordable places to live in Baltimore. I wouldn't live north, east, or west of the School of Medicine though. Those areas are a little rougher. On campus is fine because they have police officers sitting in booths about every 1/2 block or more. There are Hopkins-sponsored services that will pick you up from wherever you are on the School of Medicine campus and drive you to the front door of your apartment for free, if you're staying late. The police will always be willing to escort you to your car, if you're nervous. 
  6. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from dbm3252 in Bioengineering/Biomedical Engineering - Fall 2017 PhD Application Profiles   
    Just wanted to chime in and wish everyone good luck! I'm a second year at JHU and I'm really looking forward to meeting all the Hopkins interviewees in February! I do cell and tissue engineering research so let me know if you have questions about that program! I can also answer questions about Baltimore as well if you message me.
    Thanks to Extra Espresso for the great info and hope you've remained well-caffeinated through your first year. 
     
  7. Upvote
    madbiochemist reacted to Extra Espresso in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    I hope this is true because I accepted my offer this morning!
  8. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Omokorede in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    I wish I could give you all a hug and tell you everything will be okay. I know last year when I was applying I was a huge wreck until April. If you're anxious, I feel like you should stop checking grad cafe. I didn't listen to my own advice, but I probably should have. Checking the results won't make the admission information come any faster. The admissions process almost over; just 2 more months. Try to enjoy your time as an undergrad/masters/post-bac. Grad school can be really crazy.  
    As you're flying around the country trying to decide your future, try to take care of yourselves. All will be well. You'll end up exactly where you need to be. <3
     
  9. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Omokorede in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    Last year we accepted a few people off the alternate list too. We're looking for a relatively big class this year (2015 we had 28 and we want ~35 for 2016) and the number of applications we received was less than last year (probably because our deadline was earlier). I can't promise anything of course, but I would expect that we'll accept a few off the wait list as well this year. Really sorry that you're in that spot, but hopefully you get in here or end up somewhere that you think is an even better fit.
    I'm one of the JHU first years who was pretty involved with recruitment and I have no idea how they can choose between you all. I thought everyone was super friendly, smart, and impressive. 
  10. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Extra Espresso in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    Last year we accepted a few people off the alternate list too. We're looking for a relatively big class this year (2015 we had 28 and we want ~35 for 2016) and the number of applications we received was less than last year (probably because our deadline was earlier). I can't promise anything of course, but I would expect that we'll accept a few off the wait list as well this year. Really sorry that you're in that spot, but hopefully you get in here or end up somewhere that you think is an even better fit.
    I'm one of the JHU first years who was pretty involved with recruitment and I have no idea how they can choose between you all. I thought everyone was super friendly, smart, and impressive. 
  11. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Monstercookie in PhD going bad.....   
    I don't agree that the workload is insubstantial, depending on how much time foreignstudent is putting into lab. We don't take more than 3 classes at a time. Our program never has students TA and take classes in the same semester (and we only TA once or twice, ever) and when I read that foreignstudent was taking 9 credit hours and TAing for two classes in one semester, I cringed. Maybe it's just midterm season and I feel like I'm drowning (which is why I'm procrastinating on here, of course). Plus, if you haven't been in academia for a while, it takes some time to remember what studying requires. 
    Try not to put so much pressure on yourself to come up with the best idea ever that's going to get you a Nature paper in your first 6 months, or whatever. Your professor just wants you to start defining what your role in the lab will be and where you want to go. It doesn't need to be perfect at first. That's what mentoring is for. Just propose something you think is interesting and potentially feasible for the next semester. Plan out your experiments with your adviser's help. Try to come up with a question you find interesting and propose a few ways to go about trying to find the answer. You can do this. You're in graduate school for a reason. 
  12. Upvote
    madbiochemist reacted to brown_eyed_girl in Getting off to a good start   
    Thanks for all the useful suggestions and perspectives. It's definitely intimidating going from being out of school for a year with only an undergrad degree and going into a PhD program, and since I'm the type who needs a lot of down time, I'm glad to hear work-life balance being emphasized so heavily here.
     
    I won't start grad school till fall so I can't give any advice on that yet, but I am a big believer in taking time to recharge. I meditate daily, sometimes just for 15 minutes if that's all I have and sometimes a full half an hour. I know that it has made me more focused and engaged in various areas of my life, so I'm betting that will be a big part of maintaining my sanity in grad school. I can definitely be a Type A and want to go from one thing to the next, so meditation is a way to force myself to slow down, really pay attention to how I'm feeling physically and emotionally, and refocus myself. Plus there's pretty much a new study every week touting the benefits of mindfulness meditation - from increasing compassion to improving sleep quality and reducing depression. 
     
    Grad school is very important to me, but I think it's also really important to devote time to the things that really matter most to us. I will not sacrifice my relationships on the altar of scholarship; my loved ones need to know I'm there for them, just as I know they'll be there for me. I hope that I'll continue to volunteer with kids once a week, making time for something beyond myself. I won't give up cooking myself nutritious meals. Being a student will be a huge part of my identity, but it can't be all of it. When I'm struggling on a project (and I'm sure that day will come) I want to know that I am worth more than that project. At the end of the day, it's just school! I want to do my best, but I don't think that has to come at the exclusion of everything else. 
  13. Upvote
    madbiochemist reacted to TakeruK in Gender trouble as a TA   
    I'm sorry you have to deal with this. I have heard similar stories from other women TAs too so you are not alone. I don't have direct experience in the same way so I can't give personalized advice, but we do cover this a little bit in our TA training. There are some strategies that we have discussed for students challenging us on grades:
    1. Don't be defensive. That is, you don't need to feel that you need to justify yourself to the student. In fact, the student has to justify to you why they deserved more credit. If you don't think their argument is valid, I think it's fine for you to just say, "No, I disagree." You don't have to explain why they are wrong. The process should be that the student makes the appeal and then you determine whether the appeal is worthy.
    2. Transparent grading methods work well, but it sounds like you have already done this and it sounds like it doesn't help the gendered reaction you get. I like using a rubric and then just marking off which criteria scored at which level. I make sure that the rubric is worded in a way that clearly demonstrates expectations but also leaves room for subjectivity for me.
    For example, one criteria could be for "showing work" and the levels could be
    full points: "Each step follows clearly and logically from the previous.";
    half points: "Some steps require the reader to do some extra math to go to the next step.";
    no points: "Most steps are not related to each other."

    With a rubric like that, the student know that they must explain each of their steps to get full points, but you are still the final arbiter on what counts as "clearly and logically". They can disagree with you on what it means, but it doesn't matter for their grade, because you are the grader, not them.
    3. Find allies and help in your other TAs and the professor. Sometimes, especially those who have never experienced this before, are oblivious to the fact that this even happens. But if you let the others know what's happening, they can make sure to not do things that will undermine your authority, and they can also back you up when necessary. One potential path is to let the professor know about this beforehand, and if students still disagree with you after #1 and #2 then tell them they can take it to the professor. You'll let the professor know they are coming and since the professor knows about this problem, the professor can just back you up and support your decision. 
  14. Upvote
    madbiochemist reacted to fuzzylogician in Gender trouble as a TA   
    Yeah, it sucks, and this happens far more often than it should. I know it's hard not to get jaded and think of everyone as jerks, but the jerks are really the minority. They are loud and take up more than their fair share of your time, but they are still the minority. Most students are decent and are there to learn, and it helps to remember that. If it's any consolation, with time you won't look as young and you will learn to sound more authoritative. You'll also stop being the TA and start being the instructor of record, and eventually the jerks will back off because the power differential will be large enough that even they can see it. 
    Will the lead instructor back you up? When I am lead instructor I make it clear to my TAs that they do not have to deal with any crap. If someone is giving them trouble, they should immediately direct them to me and I will take care of it. Will your professor do the same for you? If so, your best policy is to send complainers to the professor. Since you're doing a good job grading and you know you're not wrong, if he constantly gets unsubstantiated reports about you, at least someone will know about it, and hopefully he will protect you from the guys who are stirring up the shit. I don't even think you need to "warn" him ahead of time except perhaps before the first time you do it. I would bet that will take care of at least some of the complaints right there, because they might feel like they can bully you, but they won't want to take it any further than that. And those who think they can get you in trouble will hopefully be very wrong about that and will be put in their place. If you don't have your professor's support then it's much harder to deal with, and my own (unfortunate) experience is that it's then not worth the fight. Give them what they want and minimize the damage, and hope that you never have to work with that professor again. (And I say this as someone who didn't follow this advice (well, wasn't given this advice and didn't know any better) and did fight, and lost in a way that still upsets me now, nearly a decade later.)
  15. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Haiqing in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    I wish I could give you all a hug and tell you everything will be okay. I know last year when I was applying I was a huge wreck until April. If you're anxious, I feel like you should stop checking grad cafe. I didn't listen to my own advice, but I probably should have. Checking the results won't make the admission information come any faster. The admissions process almost over; just 2 more months. Try to enjoy your time as an undergrad/masters/post-bac. Grad school can be really crazy.  
    As you're flying around the country trying to decide your future, try to take care of yourselves. All will be well. You'll end up exactly where you need to be. <3
     
  16. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Extra Espresso in Interview horror stories?   
    I also had quite a bit of anxiety surrounding my first grad school interviews. I was actually getting to meet experts in my field. I had to talk to them for 30 minutes-1 hour alone without sounding like too much of a dweeb. I feel like thinking about it that way really put me in a bad place for the first one, but luckily the professor was really nice and genuinely excited that I was interested in his work. So after that potentially terrible experience turned out okay, I decided to reframe the experience in my mind. I stopped thinking of it as an interview and started thinking that I had the opportunity to ask these brilliant scientists questions about their work and share a little bit of mine for an hour. Once I thought of it as a conversation, I felt really confident (which is really difficult for me) and I think it showed. So no horror stories, just some advice. Even if it doesn't work out, you've gotten the chance to have a great conversation with someone really smart. And I feel like if you approach it that way and make sure you can explain your own work well enough, you can't really go wrong.
    Good luck with your interviews!
  17. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Extra Espresso in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    I wish I could give you all a hug and tell you everything will be okay. I know last year when I was applying I was a huge wreck until April. If you're anxious, I feel like you should stop checking grad cafe. I didn't listen to my own advice, but I probably should have. Checking the results won't make the admission information come any faster. The admissions process almost over; just 2 more months. Try to enjoy your time as an undergrad/masters/post-bac. Grad school can be really crazy.  
    As you're flying around the country trying to decide your future, try to take care of yourselves. All will be well. You'll end up exactly where you need to be. <3
     
  18. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from aegis921 in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    I wish I could give you all a hug and tell you everything will be okay. I know last year when I was applying I was a huge wreck until April. If you're anxious, I feel like you should stop checking grad cafe. I didn't listen to my own advice, but I probably should have. Checking the results won't make the admission information come any faster. The admissions process almost over; just 2 more months. Try to enjoy your time as an undergrad/masters/post-bac. Grad school can be really crazy.  
    As you're flying around the country trying to decide your future, try to take care of yourselves. All will be well. You'll end up exactly where you need to be. <3
     
  19. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Fleet23 in Interview horror stories?   
    I also had quite a bit of anxiety surrounding my first grad school interviews. I was actually getting to meet experts in my field. I had to talk to them for 30 minutes-1 hour alone without sounding like too much of a dweeb. I feel like thinking about it that way really put me in a bad place for the first one, but luckily the professor was really nice and genuinely excited that I was interested in his work. So after that potentially terrible experience turned out okay, I decided to reframe the experience in my mind. I stopped thinking of it as an interview and started thinking that I had the opportunity to ask these brilliant scientists questions about their work and share a little bit of mine for an hour. Once I thought of it as a conversation, I felt really confident (which is really difficult for me) and I think it showed. So no horror stories, just some advice. Even if it doesn't work out, you've gotten the chance to have a great conversation with someone really smart. And I feel like if you approach it that way and make sure you can explain your own work well enough, you can't really go wrong.
    Good luck with your interviews!
  20. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from rising_star in Interview horror stories?   
    I also had quite a bit of anxiety surrounding my first grad school interviews. I was actually getting to meet experts in my field. I had to talk to them for 30 minutes-1 hour alone without sounding like too much of a dweeb. I feel like thinking about it that way really put me in a bad place for the first one, but luckily the professor was really nice and genuinely excited that I was interested in his work. So after that potentially terrible experience turned out okay, I decided to reframe the experience in my mind. I stopped thinking of it as an interview and started thinking that I had the opportunity to ask these brilliant scientists questions about their work and share a little bit of mine for an hour. Once I thought of it as a conversation, I felt really confident (which is really difficult for me) and I think it showed. So no horror stories, just some advice. Even if it doesn't work out, you've gotten the chance to have a great conversation with someone really smart. And I feel like if you approach it that way and make sure you can explain your own work well enough, you can't really go wrong.
    Good luck with your interviews!
  21. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from Extra Espresso in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    I disagree. I know that this is program specific, but last year UCSD had a pile of applicants to their BME PhD (I was apparently in this pile), where if you called or emailed to inquire about the status of your application you would be accepted into the Masters program even though you'd applied for the PhD. I didn't call, because I had offers already and didn't really care. If I hadn't had any offers, it would have been appealing. Students in the program are often able to transition into the PhD after they finish classes, so it would have been fine. I would email the program admin in late February-March if you haven't heard anything. It's still a bit early yet, especially if the program doesn't have interviews.
  22. Upvote
    madbiochemist reacted to juilletmercredi in Advice for a first year PhD student   
    About your dog: I think that depends entirely on you and your program. I am in a social science program where the majority of my analysis and writing can be done from home, and I prefer to work from home or from a library (as opposed to my cube in the windowless cube farm). When I was taking classes I was generally there from 9-6 or so, but now that my coursework is finished I am rarely at the school itself. I go for meetings, seminars, interesting kinds of things and I do most of my work remotely. My time is verrry flexible, and if my building didn't prohibit it I would get a dog in a heartbeat. Another thing to keep in mind: a dog can be a great comfort when you're all stressed out over graduate school.

    Advice?

    Age:
    -Don't feel like you have nothing to offer just because you are younger. I was 22 when I started graduate school. You got accepted to the program for a reason, and chances are you are just as equipped as any older students are to successfully complete the program, just in a different way.

    -Your older classmates may be just as terrified as you. Talk to them. You have a lot in common. You are, after all, in the same place.

    -You will feel like an imposter, like you don't belong, or like you are constantly behind. Or all three. It's normal. It will pass. (Well, sort of.) People of all ages go through this.

    Adviser related:
    -If you are lucky enough to get both research interest fit and personality fit perfect, congratulations! But sometimes, personality fit is more important than research interest fit as long as the research isn't too different. A great adviser is interested in your career development, likes you as a person, advocates for you, and wants to hear your ideas. Even if his or her research is quite different from yours, they may give you the autonomy to work on your own projects and just supervise you. A bad personality fit will drive you nuts, even if you love his or her research. Consider that when evaluating your adviser fit. (This will vary by field: research fit may be less important in the humanities, more important in the natural and physical sciences. Social sciences are somewhere in-between.)

    -Don't be afraid to be straight up blunt with your adviser when it comes to asking about your progress. Ask if you are where you should be both academic program wise and getting-a-job-after-this-mess-wise.

    -Be proactive. Advisers love when you draw up an agenda for your one-on-one meetings, come with talking points and progress to share, have concrete questions to ask, and have overall shown that you have been thoughtful and taken control of your own program. Of course, this won't immediately come easily to you, but in time you will work up to it. Every semester I type up my semester goals, and at the beginning of the year I type up annual goals. I show them to my adviser and we talk about whether they are too ambitious, or whether I need to revise them, and how I can meet them.

    -Don't expect your adviser to actually know what courses you have to take to graduate. They will know about comprehensive exams and the dissertation, but a lot of professors don't really keep up with the course requirements, especially if their program is in flux. Get you a student handbook, and find out what you need to take. Map it out in a grid, and check off things when you finish them. Show this to your adviser every semester. You may have to explain how such and such class fills a requirement.

    -Nobody loves you as much as you, except your mother. Keep this in mind as you take in advice from all sources, including your adviser. Your adviser is there to guide you, but that doesn't mean you have to do everything he says.

    Studying:
    -You will have to read more than you ever did before, in less time than you ever have before, and you will be expected to retain more than you ever have before. The way that you studied in undergrad may need some tweaking. Be prepared for this.

    -Corollary: you may find that your methods change with age or interests or time. I preferred to study alone in college, but in grad school, I prefer to study in groups. It keeps me on task and the socialization keeps me motivated. You may find that you shift from being a more auditory learner to a visual learner or whatever.

    -You will feel behind at first. This is normal.

    -At some point you will realize that your professors don't actually expect you to read everything they assign you. This, of course, will vary by program, but there will be at least one class where the reading is actually impossible to do in one week. The point is to read enough that you know the major themes and can talk intelligently about them, and then pick some of the readings to really dig into and think more deeply about.

    -For most programs, don't worry so much about grades. If you stay on top of your work and do what you're supposed to, you will probably get an A. How much grades matter varies from program to program. In some programs, a B is a signal that you are not up to par, and more than a few Bs will warrant a discussion with your adviser or the DGS. My program isn't like that - A, B, it's all meaningless. My adviser doesn't even know what my grades are. But at almost all programs, a C means you need to retake the course, and two Cs means you have to convince the DGS not to kick you out.

    Extracurricular activity: What's that? No, seriously:
    -A lot of your time will be unstructured. You will have coursework, but most grad classes meet once a week for two hours and you may have three classes. You may have meetings with your adviser every so often and some seminars or things to catch (like we have grand rounds and colloquia that are required), but a lot of time will be unstructured. However, since you have so much more work than you had in undergrad, you actually will have less free time than you had in undergrad. This may initially cause you great anxiety. It did for me. Some people love unstructured time, though. (I don't.)

    -Because of this, you'll have to be planful about your non-grad school related stuff.

    -TAKE TIME OFF. DO it. It's important for your mental health. However you do it doesn't matter. Some people work it like a 9-5 job. Some people take a day off per week (me) and maybe a few hours spread across the week. Some people work half days 7 days a week. However you do it, there needs to be a time when you say "f this, I'm going to the movies."

    -Find your happy place, something that keeps you the you you were when you came in. I love working out. It gives me energy and I feel good. I stay healthy. I also love reading fiction, so sometimes I just curl up with a good book, work be damned. You have to give yourself permission to not think about work, at least for a couple of hours a week. You may also discover new hobbies! (I never worked out before I came to graduate school.)

    -Your work will creep into all aspects of your life, if you let it. This is why I hate unstructured time. You will feel guilty for not doing something, because in graduate school, there is ALWAYS something you can do. ALWAYS. But since there will always be more work, there's no harm in putting it aside for tomorrow, as long as you don't have a deadline.

    -You may need to reach outside of your cohort for a social life. None of my close friends are in my doctoral cohort. I've met master's students in my program, master's students in other programs, and I know a few non-graduate students I hang out with, too. Go to graduate student mixers. (If your university doesn't have any, organize some, if you like planning parties.) Join a student group that doesn't take up too much time. I had a doctoral acquaintance who kinda laughed at me because I joined some student groups other than the doctoral student one, and I was usually the only doctoral student in those groups, but I met some close friends (and future job contacts) and had a good time.

    -DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR WANTING A LIFE OUTSIDE OF GRADUATE SCHOOL. This is paramount. This is important. You are a well-rounded, complex, multifaceted human being. NEVER feel bad for this. Everybody wants some kind of life outside of work. Yes, you may loooove your field, but that doesn't mean you want to do it all day long. Some other doctoral students, and perhaps professors, may make you feel bad about this. Don't let them. Just smile and nod. Then disappear when you need to.

    Career:
    -This is job preparation. Remember that from Day One. Always be looking for ways to enhance your skills. Read job ads and find out what's hot in your field, what's necessary, what's in demand. For example, in my field statistics and methods are a hot commodity, and they're not a passing fad. I happen to really like statistics and methods, so I have pursued that as a concentration of mine.

    -Don't be afraid to take on volunteer work and part-time gigs that will give you skills that will be useful both inside academia and out, as long as it's not against your contract. Your adviser may be against it, but he doesn't have to know as long as it doesn't interfere with your work.

    -If you want to work outside of academia - if you are even *considering* the possibility - please please definitely do the above. Even if you aren't considering it, consider the possibility that you won't get a tenure-track job out the box and that you may need to support yourself doing something else for a while. You will have to prove to employers that you have developed usable, useful skills and this is one of the easiest ways to do it. But don't overdo it - get the degree done.

    -For more academic related ones - always look for opportunities to present and publish. Presentations look good on your CV. Publications look better. When you write seminar papers, wonder if you can publish them with some revision. Write your seminar papers on what you maybe think you may want to do your dissertation on. Even if you look at them three years later and think "these suck," you can at least glean some useful references and pieces from them. Discuss publication with your adviser early and often, and if you have the time and desire, seek out publication options with other professors and researchers. But if you commit to a project, COMMIT. You don't want to leave a bad impression.

    -If you can afford it, occasionally go to conferences even if you aren't presenting. You can network, and you can hear some interesting talks, and you may think about new directions for your own research. You can also meet people who may tell you about jobs, money, opportunities, etc.

    -Always try to get someone else to pay for conference travel before you come out of pocket. Including your adviser. Do not be shy about asking if he or she can pay. If he can't, he'll just say no. Usually the department has a travel fund for students, but often it's only if you are presenting.

    -If you are interested in academia, you should get some teaching experience. There are two traditional ways to do this: TAing a course, and teaching as a sole instructor. If you can help it, I wouldn't recommend doing a sole instructor position until you are finished with coursework. Teaching takes a LOT of time to do right. You should definitely TA at least one course, and probably a few different ones. But don't overdo it, if you can help it, because again, it takes a LOT of time. More than you expect at the outset. If you are in the humanities, I think sole instructor positions are very important for nabbing jobs so when you are in the exam/ABD phase, you may want to try at least one. If your own university has none, look at adjuncting for nearby colleges, including community colleges. (I would wager that the majority of natural science/physical science students, and most social science students, have never sole taught a class before they get an assistant professor job. At least, it's not that common n my field, which straddles the social and natural sciences.)

    -Always look for money. Money is awesome. If you can fund yourself you can do what you want, within reason. Your university will be thrilled, your adviser will be happy, and you can put it on your CV. It's win-win-win! Don't put yourself out of the running before anyone else has a chance to. Apply even if you think you won't get it or the odds are against you (they always are), as long as you are eligible. Apply often. Apply even if it's only $500. (That's conference travel!) Money begets money. The more awards you get, the more awards you will get. They will get bigger over time. If you are in the sciences and social sciences, you should get practice writing at least one grant. You don't have to write the whole thing, but at least get in on the process so that you can see how it's done. Grant-writing is very valuable both in and outside of graduate school.

    -Revise your CV every so often. Then look and decide what you want to add to it. Then go get that thing, so you can add it.

    -The career office at big universities is often not just for undergrads. I was surprised to learn that my career center offers help on CV organization and the academic job search, as well as alternative/non-academic career searches for doctoral students. In fact, there are two people whose sole purpose it is to help PhD students find nonacademic careers, and they both have PhDs. This will vary by university - some universities will have very little for grad students. Find out before you write the office off.

    -It's never too early to go to seminars/workshops like "the academic job search inside and out", "creating the perfect CV," "getting the job," etc. NEVER. Often the leader will share tips that are more aimed towards early graduate students, or tidbits that are kind of too late for more advanced students to take care of. This will also help you keep a pulse on what's hot in your field. It'll help you know what lines you need to add to your CV. And they're interesting.

    Other:

    -Decide ahead of time what you are NOT willing to sacrifice on the altar of academia. Then stick to it.
    I'm serious. If you decide that you do NOT want to sacrifice your relationship, don't. If it's your geographical mobility, don't. I mean, be realistic, and realize that there will always be trade-offs. But you have to think about what's important to you for your quality of life, and realize that there is always more to you than graduate school.

    -If you don't want to be a professor, do not feel guilty about this. At all. Zero. However, you will have to do things differently than most doctoral students. Your adviser will probably never have worked outside of the academy (although this may vary depending on the field) so he may or may not be able to help you. But you have a special mission to seek out the kinds of experiences that will help you find a non-academic job. Test the waters with your adviser before you tell him this. My adviser was quite amenable to it, but that's because I told him that my goal was to still do research and policy work in my field just not at a university, AND because it's quite common in my field for doctoral students to do non-academic work. If you're in a field where it's not common (or where your professors refuse to believe it's common, or it's not supposed to be common)…well, you may be a little more on your own.

    -Every so often, you will need to reflect on the reasons you came to graduate school. Sometimes, just sit and think quietly. Why are you doing this to yourself? Do you love your field? Do you need this degree to do what you want to do? Usually the answer is yes and yes, and usually you'll keep on trucking. But sometimes when the chips are down you will need to reevaluate why you put yourself through this in the first place.

    -To my great dismay, depression is quite common in doctoral students. Graduate work can be isolating and stressful. Luckily your health insurance usually includes counseling sessions. TAKE THEM if you need them. Do not be ashamed. You may be surprised with who else is getting them. (I found out that everyone in my cohort, including me, was getting mental health counseling at a certain point.) Exercise can help, as can taking that mental health day once a week and just chilling. Don't be surprised if you get the blues…

    -…but be self-aware and able to recognize when the depression is clouding your ability to function. Doctoral programs have a 50% attrition rate, and this is rarely because that 50% is less intelligent than, less motivated than, less driven than, or less ambitious than the other 50% that stays. Often they realize that they are ridiculously unhappy in the field, or that they don't need the degree anymore, or that they'd rather focus on other things in life, or their interests have changed. All of this is okay!

    -You will, at some point, be like "eff this, I'm leaving." I think almost every doctoral student has thought about dropping out and just kicking this all to the curb. You need to listen to yourself, and find out whether it is idle thought (nothing to worry about, very normal) or whether you are truly unhappy to the point that you need to leave. Counseling can help you figure this out.

    -Don't be afraid to take a semester or a year off if you need to. That's what leaves of absence are for.

    Lastly, and positively…

    …graduate school is great! Seriously, when else will you ever have the time to study what you want for hours on end, talk to just as interested others about it, and live in an intellectual community of scholars and intellectuals? And occasionally wake up at 11 am and go to the bank at 2 pm? Sometimes you will want to pull out all of your hair but most of the time, you will feel fulfilled and wonderfully encouraged and edified. So enjoy this time!
  23. Upvote
    madbiochemist got a reaction from aegis921 in PhD Biomedical/Bioengineering/EE Fall 2016 Profiles   
    I disagree. I know that this is program specific, but last year UCSD had a pile of applicants to their BME PhD (I was apparently in this pile), where if you called or emailed to inquire about the status of your application you would be accepted into the Masters program even though you'd applied for the PhD. I didn't call, because I had offers already and didn't really care. If I hadn't had any offers, it would have been appealing. Students in the program are often able to transition into the PhD after they finish classes, so it would have been fine. I would email the program admin in late February-March if you haven't heard anything. It's still a bit early yet, especially if the program doesn't have interviews.
  24. Upvote
    madbiochemist reacted to geographyrocks in NSF GRFP 2016   
    I thought I had no chance of succeeding.  Then I won it.  Self-doubt tends to creep in, but don't let it rule what you do!
  25. Upvote
    madbiochemist reacted to rising_star in Staying with Grad Students when you're local   
    Advantages: You get to have some one-on-one time with a current graduate student and a chance to ask questions in a less formal setting. You have the chance to get additional insight into what it's like to be a grad student there (where you might live, what amenities you can afford to have, etc.). It's also probably less than 30 minutes away from campus, shortening your commute in the morning.
    Disadvantages: Sharing space, having to "on" for longer, an additional chance to make a fool of yourself.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.