Happy New Year!!
This month marks the anniversary of Tha Girl Upstairs Blog and the beginning of my second semester in graduate school (did I mention that I can't wait for year one to be over?! lol).
It's no secret that in August I began matriculation in a Doctoral Degree program in Biology. Honestly, I'm surprised that I haven't screamed it from the mountain tops yet (yes I am super proud of my accomplishments!) When I embarked on this journey I was excited about the thought of continuing to build my brand while in school. I was so over the moon with excitement that I set three simple, yet major goals for the Fall semester.
- Earn a 4.0 grade point average.
-Blog more & most importantly be more consistent.
-Build Tha Girl Upstairs empire (oh yes...this blog is just the beginning).
Well....I painstakingly accomplished one of those goals and failed miserably at the others. With a whopping four blog posts since July, I obviously failed to blog more and the empire is still barely in progress. On the other hand, I practically went insane and sacrificed precious turn up time...nevertheless I earned, yes EARNED that 4.0 grade point average. I worked hard this semester, endured bouts of loneliness and since I'm uber emotional and self-critical, I cried A LOT; but when I saw my GPA it was all worth it!
As I have said many times before, obtaining a Ph.D. is no small feat...but as a novice in doctoral degrees, it seems like STEM students have just a bit more work to do than everyone else. In between classes, research and pulling my hair out (just joking!), I managed to attend several university-sponsored workshops geared towards professional development for graduate students. During majority of these workshops, I received just about the worst answer an inquisitive person can hear, "Ummmm I don't know, Biology is different." Ugh ! It was the worst!! Anyway I say all of that to say this (because the juices are flowing and I'm rambling), I've been around the block a couple of times....whoa, whoa, whoa; THE GRADUATE SCHOOL BLOCK. Here are a few tips for students (traditional & non-traditional) majoring in STEM:
Keep Calm & Carry the Heck On!
Vent, vent, vent to anyone who will listen and then get over it! I have to take the time, to thank my mother for being my rock this semester (well really my entire life). I'm sure she got tired of my relentless grievances that had absolutely nothing to do with her; but she picked up the phone every time I called. Before you say it, it's not just because she's a mom, because all moms don't do that. She did it because she is MY mom and she's the best at it! If it weren't for her pushing me, there's no telling where I would be! Thanks Mother! =)
With that said, keep calm and carry the heck on! Don't let any—and I mean anything stop you. Gripe about an assignment all you want, but realize you still have to get it. If I gave all of my readers a penny for every time I questioned my abilities this semester...you would all be filthy rich. Remember that absolutely no one can get in your way but YOU.
Professional Development...or unemployment?
Seeking a Ph.D. is like running through a field of marshmallows. Ha, ha, I'm lying. In all seriousness it really is great and inspiring, but no one really reveals everything it entails; as if it's some sort of secret! Essentially, you're a full-time student, working a full-time job that you really don't get paid that much for. We like to call it "The Graduate Experience." Whether seeking your Ph.D. or your Masters', if you are in a research lab, you are most likely working to solve experimental problems that are funded by your mentor's grant. In short, don't let the graduate experience work you...YOU WORK THE GRADUATE EXPERIENCE!! If no one else is going to tell you that you need to attend as many professional development experiences as possible, then I am. Once you receive that degree, your credentials will speak for you. Face it, no one wants to hire a professor or researcher who has zero experience. Make every single workshop and conference you attend worthwhile; in the end, you'll thank me for the suggestion.
Maintain a social life.
Now this is an area that I also failed miserably in this semester. What can I say, I'm a school-aholic! I tend to get so wrapped up in my studies; and while it proves to be worth it for my grades in the long run, it also leaves me a bit jaded towards anyone who had fun this semester while I didn't (whether they are in school or not). Now I know I am wrong in this, but it's just how the cookie crumbles. I declare right here, right now, that I will attempt to do something fun and NON-ACADEMIC every month. It's okay to take some time to do something you enjoy! I'll try not to isolate myself to avoid feeling lonesome and disconnected socially.
Finally...cheers to a Happy New Year and a productive Spring semester!