Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Building a Circle of Support

Amanda Lee - Postdoc, City of Hope Beckman Research Institute

Just the other day, a friend was introducing me to a few new acquaintances and jokingly said, “Yes, she has a Ph.D.: permanent head damage!” We all laughed, but let’s face the fact—graduate school is tough. After 4–5 years (or even longer) of arduous labor in the lab and relying on more failures than successes to carve out an independent thesis it is hard not to lose some form of sanity along the way.

I have, based on my own experiences, concluded that like all other challenges in life, the hardships of graduate school can be conquered by following a few simple guidelines.

First, being in graduate school does not mean you have to put your social life on hold. In fact, it is really important to establish a strong circle of friends that you can turn to for support and encouragement when things get tough. Besides, it is never too soon to start networking! You may need it when you start looking for a job.

Secondly, take the time to do something meaningful or enjoyable outside of work. Volunteer at the local food pantry or pick up ballroom dancing. It will make you a more interesting person.

Lastly, update your resume once in a while. Taking stock of what you have done helps you to stay on top of your goals.

Planning is crucial when you are trying to minimize stress. So don’t lose your mind. Follow these simple steps and surviving graduate school will not be as difficult as you think!

Amanda Lee completed her Ph.D. at Purdue University and is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at City of Hope Beckman Research Institute.

1 comment:

Morgan said...

I agree with many of the other bloggers that, to survive graduate school, you have to do things outside of work and have balance in your life. However, that doesn’t mean leaving your research group behind. I have found that going camping or surfing with my fellow grad students and postdocs helped our in-lab working environment tremendously! Think of your research group as your support network, both professionally and personally.