Thursday, July 11, 2013

Celebrate Milestones in Graduate School

Today's post is a guest post by Nathan L. Vanderford. Nathan has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Biotechnology, a PhD in Biochemistry, and an MBA with an operations management focus. He is an administrator, researcher, educator, consultant, writer/editor, and entrepreneur. He is the founder of Integrative Academic Solutions, which aims to help individuals integrate multiple disciplines to achieve innovative job performance. He is also the founder/editor of The Daily PhD, a newspaper dedicated to graduate school issues and PhD career paths. Lastly, he is the founder/editor of What Are All The PhDs?, which is dedicated to putting a personal spin on highlighting all possible career paths for PhDs.

Earning a PhD is an extraordinary rewarding and worthwhile experience. With that said, however, graduate school can be an emotional roller coaster. There are a multitude of issues that contribute to this emotional roller coaster called graduate school and oftentimes many of the details of the issues are person-specific. Several issues are also common among all graduate students. For example, you have to deal with tough classes while you balance your research and delicate inter-personal relationships – such as those with your mentor, dissertation committee, labmates, and your student colleagues. You can also struggle to figure out where your general personal life fits into the graduate school equation.

If you’re like me, and many other graduate students I knew, you have to find ways to get through some of the ups and downs of graduate school as best you can. You can come up with all types of creative ways to do this and one that I suggest is to establish milestones that you can celebrate. And by celebrate, I mean really celebrate because you’ll need a chance to de-stress and unwind. And, celebrate with your friends as they reach their milestones too. Finding reasons to party, I mean celebrate, will help you get through graduate school!

My Top Graduate School Milestones (listed chronologically as they happened and not necessarily in order of most importance)
* Getting accepted into graduate school
* Finishing my coursework
* Passing my qualifying exam
* Getting manuscripts written, submitted, and accepted
* Getting approved to write my dissertation
* Getting job offers and having a job (postdoc position) secured before I defended
* Successfully defending
* Leaving the lab for the last time before starting my postdoc

So, if you’re like me, whatever your milestones are in graduate school, you’ll likely have an opportunity to celebrate quite often. Take these opportunities to reflect on a job well done and to re-focus on finishing what you’ve started.

What are your milestones? Do you have creative/innovative ways to pass the time in graduate school? Do you have unique ways to de-stress? If so, we’d love to hear from you.

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