CONGRATULATIONS on deciding to pursue a graduate degree at (INSERT name of your dream graduate program here). We are so looking forward to having you here to (INSERT project/idea that you believe deep down will fundamentally change the world). There are a few things you should know to get started with the waterboarding–whoops! We meant “onboarding” process (NOTE: we totally meant “waterboarding”).
Look familiar? Not sure where to start? Below, you can find a short list of tips to help you start your graduate school journey strong so the above no longer looks familiar.
TIP #1: Email Professors/grad students ahead of time. Not sure what to ask or say? Well, think of it this way: grad school assumes the place of a full-time job, so you’re basically asking similar questions that you’d ask of an employer or potential colleagues. Still unsure where to start? Here are some questions to help get you going!
TIP #2: Find Funding. And then find more. If you need help with this, check out my earlier blog post. This part is important for several reasons, some that just recently became obvious to me…
TIP #3: Get a head start. Here’s the stuff they don’t tell you, especially when you’re first generation, or embarking on a path no one else in your family has done. No one really knows what’s going on.
TIP #4: Understand the difference between football and baseball. Well, don’t take the title literally. I mean DO understand the difference but think of this metaphorically. Corey Booker has an excellent quote, “Don’t act like you hit a home-run, when you were born on third base.” Meaning, some people in grad school think they’re uhhh-mazing, God’s gift to Earth, and some of them are, however, you cannot compare your progress to other’s that may not be starting from the same place you are. Not only was I not born on 3rd base, but I grew up thinking I was playing baseball when I was actually playing soccer. My parents couldn’t tell the difference, and I didn’t know any better. All the rules I followed, my game plan, my moves, were not prepare for the fact that my ability to kick and score goals was irrelevant to this new sport. I’m learning every day what it takes and using one day at a time to measure my progress. Understand grad school is a different ball game. A league for the movers and shakers that want to influence the future of science and engineers. It’s okay to not know what you’re supposed to be doing if you and your network of people have never done it before. Document your though process, think about where you see yourself in five years, believe in yourself, constantly talk to people you look up to, and you’ll be astonished by everything you’ve accomplished.
Is grad school still mysterious? Of course it is! But hopefully our roles as trailblazers leaves the path a little clearer and easier to navigate for everyone else following after us. Remember, creating a legacy is not the climbing of the ladder to success, it’s being hoisted up by all of the people you’ve helped along the way. Don’t wait until you’ve made it to help, or you may never make it!
Leave questions in the comments section!
Directions for wanderers: Remember the four main tips to demystify graduate school. The most important advice I can give is trust your gut and believe in yourself. Treat each day as a gift and give everything all that you’ve got!