Making the Most of Your Graduate (and Postgrad) Experience Be Proactive!

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Autumn Core Programs
Dear Noell,

As we settle into spring quarter, some of you may be cruising toward graduation—and others may be just getting your feet under you in your first year. Regardless of where you are, it’s never too late to think about how you can actively shape the kind of experience you want.

At one of our Core Programs workshops last week, Kelly Edwards (faculty) and Sophia Ayele (graduate student) noted that in graduate school you need to be proactive on every level. Every graduate student has a slightly different set of goals, values and skills, and it is up to you to assess your needs and then seek out resources, experiences and people to help you meet them.

Be proactive in seeking out:

  • Mentors, advisors, friends – a team of role models
    Personal relationships have the potential to make a big difference in your success here. Look to different people to get different needs met. For example, you may discuss your research interests with your faculty advisor, while you may look to a mentor as someone who could give you great advice on your career trajectory. Amass a team of people to help support you.
  • Experiences to expand your skills and perspective
    Whether you came in knowing exactly what you wanted to do or are exploring, graduate school is a great time to expand your repertoire of skills, theoretical models, and even disciplines. Saying “yes” to the right kinds of experiences—seminars, colloquia, guest lectures, lab rotations, internships, volunteer opportunities—can open up new connections and opportunities for you. It is a big campus and region! The more you talk with people about what you might be looking for, the more options will become visible.
  • Funding Opportunities
    Think about looking for funding opportunities early, up to one year ahead! The Graduate Funding Information Service (GFIS) works with current and admitted students to help students identify and use different resources to locate funding opportunities for graduate school-related expenses including tuition, research, and conference and research travel.
  • Time Management Solutions
    As graduate students, you’re busy with competing priorities. Find what works best for you when it comes to using your time in the most productive way. Could physical activity give you the stamina to go back to studying after a long day, rather than forcing yourself to continue working without a break? Could rewarding yourself once you’re done with some reading or writing help you complete the task at hand (e.g., getting a snack, watching a tv show, calling a friend)? Here are some great time management reminders, especially the one about remembering why you are here in the first place! Keeping an eye on what really matters to you in your work will help you prioritize and stay motivated as you move forward.