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.
Do you find yourself gossiping about a peer?
Is she a woman?
Would you say the same things about a male peer?
Gender bias is persistent on both sides of the gender aisle.
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.
In high school, there was a quick change from using Britannica encyclopedias in the library (media center, anyone?) or online, to the tempting world of Wikipedia. Every time we had a paper assigned, the teacher would call out after us when the bell rang, "Wikipedia doesn't count!"
Transitioning into college, Wikipedia became more...consistent? reliable? solid? Or at least gave off the appearance of such a resource. I used Wikipedia as a starting point (it is the first result on Google, after all...) and then use the keywords linked in the articles to find more "reputable" citations.
So do I still use Wikipedia?
Yeah, I do. In the same way I used it in college. Thinking back on it, I use it much less due to the nature of graduate work. I'm well-versed in the topics I study. My time is better spent analyzing newly published research than reviewing a disorganized article on the big W.
What's your earliest memory of Wikipedia? How does it fit into your normal research habits?
Keep on keepin' on
Admitted Students days can be exhausting but informative, in the best case scenario. In all of my experiences, I attended these hosted visit days after already accepting my admission; however, many students go hoping to find another tidbit of information that can help them with a difficult decision. Regardless which camp you fall in, you should find this information useful.
Prep work. Since you've already applied to the school, you're likely pretty familiar with their program. But as you consider actually going there, you may have more nitty gritty questions related to funding, coursework, or general program structure. These are the hard pieces of information you should use to compare and contrast different schools. Next, think about your past educational experiences. Do you do better in large lectures with separate teaching sections, or in small group discussion classes? Do you utilize office hours like it's your job or do you prefer study groups with colleagues?
Last night, I flew back north after a whirlwind trip for Admitted Students Day. Since I've already accepted the admission offer, my focus for this trip was to hash out my expectations for the upcoming year and to leave a memorable impression on my future advisors and mentors.
Reflecting during the plane ride, I realized that the approach I took during my meetings and interactions could be articulated for you to address the issues of imposter syndrome we all struggle with at one time or another.
Setting the stage. The first step is to create your context. You need to establish your overall goal so that you have a solid "big picture" to come back to during hard times.
"The best productivity hack is blocking the time to do the work that produces the results you want from your life, a big part of that life being your work, and work being one of the ways you make a contribution." [source]
Grad student grandiosity sits confidently (but ignorantly) across the aisle from imposter syndrome. Grad student grandiosity is that overly wordy short answer response that makes grading that much more miserable. It rears its head in discussion section when one student dominates the conversation, and insists on arguing with you over a basic terminology definition because they can hypothesize a number of scenarios where it doesn't hold.
These feelings of grandiosity may be perpetuated by faculty in the department, as they smile and nod when a student contributes to journal club. Little does the student know their comment reflects basic knowledge (i.e. they paid attention in class) of an incredibly complex methodology. This positive reinforcement from authority figures is equivalent to a pat on the head when a child learns to ride a bike (that still has training wheels on).