One of my current projects as a baby genetic epidemiologist is taking a look at missing heritability in type 2 diabetes. Reading papers late one night, this image popped in my head, and I had to draw it out. Laughing alone with my laptop and my dog on PubMed is probably a sign of too much coffee, not enough sleep. But, enjoy the cartoon! I hope to have more. Science is my life, as is creativity.
Great news! I've come back from my first conference as a PhD student and it went great.
If you read my first post on getting the most out of conferences, you may recognize a few of 'tasks' or suggestions I mentioned.
You may be thinking, "Bailey, what was your goal for this conference?" Read more to find out.
How do you feel when you go to a conference? Are you nervous? Overwhelmed? Personally I wonder if I’ll ever get to the point in my career where I feel at ease, looking forward to seeing colleagues from all over the nation I’ve collaborated with on projects.
My advisor runs a weekly breakfast club for his advisees, and with a national conference coming up in the next few months, we wanted advice on how to get the most out of conferences. He came up with a top 10, that I’ve organized and elaborated on below. I’ll expand on a few in my next post (Part II).
All of these tips fall under the category of preparing for your own success They should be done before the conference, and then acted upon. Make a game plan and you’ll return home feeling accomplished.
Click the pic or hit read more for all 3 tips.
TIP: Make sure you read the conference program before registration day, so you can plan ahead and make the most of it! Check out the conference website, too!
Re-evaluating your priorities is a good idea to do at least once a year, but can be especially helpful if you are feeling stale or stuck in a rut.
Orientation brings a tsunami of information crashing down on your head. Administrators and students acknowledge this fact in your meetings with a smile and joke. But by the end of the day, your pleasant expression has twisted and you'd prefer they get on with it.
But it's not their fault - what you really need is for the semester to fast forward a week or two. Diving into course material in class, instead of syllabus review. A routine for your schedule - problem sets due Fridays, lab reports due Wednesdays, happy hour on Thursdays.
Everything fitting in neat little boxes in your head, instead of the nebulous cloud of worry and the frantic feeling you're forgetting something.
I am 2 days into my first semester as a doctoral student, and am able to clearly see the difference in my mood, my anxiety levels, and my outlook compared to starting a new year in undergrad and during my master's program.
I'm not worried about the exams or teaching styles. I've had enough professors to trust that I can assess and adapt. I'm worried more with funding, and meeting training expectations, and turning in paperwork on time. These small tasks that build up in your email inbox, while you try to organize the rest of your life. But stick in the back of your head. Even with them written down on my task list, I find myself remembering them days later, with a quick jolt to the chest checking the deadline.
But guess what?
It all just fell into place.
To Be or Not To Be
In ninth grade English, one of our first assignments was to produce a book report without using the verb “to be” in any form. The purpose was to expand our vocabulary and make us actually think when we wrote (I think). It was hard, but it shaped how I approach writing. I would even say it helped me find my voice over the past decade.
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A past professor encouraged us to reformat our emails to busy supervisors. Often we start with pleasantries, and hide our true purpose for emailing in a body of text or at the bottom of the email. Get to the point with these templates.
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Transitioning from college to residency, I learned many workplace lessons that ended up being rather traumatic. Any infographic or article you see that lists the differences between Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millenials summarizes many of the challenges that twenty-somethings encounter in the workplace. While we use email and text as a go-to communication tool, more experienced colleagues and supervisors find it impersonal and possibly offensive to address certain topics via email. Similarly, being called in for a one-on-one meeting with your boss may throw a millennial in a tizzy. What did you do wrong? Why are you in trouble?
While everyone can benefit from understanding why and how these different generations function, that doesn’t mean everyone is going to assimilate. Learning how to construct an appropriate email is important. Learning when not to send an email may be even more important.
Email often lacks context, making it a challenging communication medium in general. When Baby Boomers and GenXers view email as impersonal and disconnected, the problem is compounded. As humans, we are programmed to consider facial expressions, tone of voice, body language, and our knowledge of the person. With email, we’re limited to the text in front of us and our knowledge of the person. Some consider TYPING IN ALL CAPS to denote excitement. For others, it’s angry.
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I first heard the term "stretch assignment" in undergrad from a lecturer discussing career development. She encouraged us to identify those opportunities that are a bit beyond our current skill set and comfort zone, and embrace them as an opportunity for growth.
Did you know that women are more likely to apply for a job only if they meet all of the listed qualifications? But men will apply even if that last few bullet points don't describe them. Once I read this statistic, my entire approach to growth transformed. Many of my peers, upon graduation with their Master degree, are job searching. For myself, I am preparing myself for doctoral training, and reflecting back upon these past 2 years. What projects would I like to spend my time on? How will it influence my training and career path?
Whether you are meeting your advisor for the first time, or are interested in revitalizing a placid relationship, these tips can help you not only make the most of your weekly meetings but improve your productivity and success as a graduate student.
Here's three possible scenarios.