June 12th, 2020: “Abisola Kusimo is hooded by Professor (Blank Blank) in receipt of the Doctoral Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University” (crowd cheers on senselessly)
Okay, maybe it was a tad bit too dramatic, but this is where my mind often wanders when the pressure builds and my work piles. I want to be Abisola Kusimo, Ph.D. or Dr. Abisola Kusimo (if I like you) by 2020. This year is symbolic to me of the clear 20/20 vision I hope to achieve and communicate to others. It is my year of breathtaking clarity: an HD-image of how my future generations will be impacted by this accomplishment and the year that my last name will never be the same.
Enough of the mumbo-jumbo, touchy-feely, super dreamy future. Now for the strategies that will allow you to also make the jump from thinking in the present to visualizing your future.
- Set your goal. Why do you want a Ph.D.? Know it, write it, and speak it into existence.
- Talk with your advisor. When do you want a Ph.D.? Is it feasible? What does it take to graduate? What are both of your expectations from each other?
- Build a network. How do you want a Ph.D.? (Hint: It won’t be on your own) Meet your cohort and learn from students across the university. These will be your colleagues in a few years and possibly co-authors on future grant proposals and research articles!
- Ask for help. How badly do you want a Ph.D.? It cannot be done alone. The nature of the degree requires that you interact with committee members, advisors, and other researchers (or at least their papers). If you’re like me, and a first gen grad student: don’t shoulder the burden, take time for yourself and seek out resources. Remember self care. Self care. And…oh yeah! Self care!
- Do not give up. Seriously, how badly do you want a Ph.D.? Brace yourself. This journey will not be easy. But it will be rewarding. This degree is not yours–it is received on the backs and beads of sweat of those that trail blazed before you. Marinate in that and use it as a light to cast away your doubts.