Happy Fall! This August was the first in 18 August’s that I did not start school. 18! Crazy. I was reflecting on my journey throughout graduate school in particular and how much I learned. It made me think about some of the things that I wish I knew before starting my journey as an #SAgrad. Being that it is September, most of the #SAgrad’s across the nation are already knee-deep in their programs. I, however, still want to share some of the things that I wish I would have known before starting my journey.
Know You’re Not Alone
Your faculty and your cohort are there for you and want you to be successful. Lean on them and talk to them when you have questions or concerns. Your cohort is on this journey with you and although their experience may be entirely different than yours, they still are a great group of people who can listen and support.
Learning Happens Everywhere
Make connections! Notice how what you are learning in the classroom reminds you of the work you are doing with students. See connections everywhere – even the craziest places – it helps you learn! Try to connect what you are reading to the movie you saw last weekend.
Coffee is Always a Good Decision
I had my first cup of coffee in September of my first year of grad school. (Happy 2 year coffee-lover anniversary to me!). I didn’t need coffee for the caffeine but I liked starting my day with a routine and coffee became part of that routine for me. Finding something that made starting my day a little brighter, helped me get through some pretty long days. Teach yourself how to be a morning person and make the most out of those beginning hours of the day!
Keep In Touch
Yes, the days are long. Sometimes it can be exhausting explaining to family and friends what life in your program is like. So… you want to be an RA forever? No, Mom. My brother told someone that I was going to graduate school to “get better at giving campus tours”. However you explain what your professional goals are to others, be patient. Don’t lose sight of meaningful relationships and try to include your family and friends. Call your Grandma. Spend time over the holidays with your friends and family. Those moments can be energizing. When you graduate, you don’t want to realize you buried yourself so deep in the #SAgrad life that you lost touch with the outside world.
Mentor and Be Mentored
Seek out opportunities to build relationships with supervisors, faculty members, and other professionals that will be meaningful for you. In addition, keep in touch with mentors at previous institutions or positions. You never know when you might need some extra support or a listening ear.
Asking For Help Is Brave
There is nothing wrong with asking for help and being open with how your are doing. Every time someone asks “How are you?” your default answer does not have to be “Great, how are you?”. Meaningful and authentic relationships are built on honesty and trust. Find those people who you can tell how you really are doing when they ask.
Hang Onto a Hobby
After a day full of meetings, work, class and homework it sometimes felt as if there was no time for anything else. I wish someone would have told me to be sure to hang onto at least one thing that I love doing for fun. A hobby. Something that makes me feel like me. My first semester of graduate school I hardly went running, something that I really need to do for me to feel healthy and happy. Once I realized I had totally let that part of me go, I made time for it again. You make time for the things that are important to you. Don’t let your hobbies slip away.
Or Pick Up A New Hobby
Learn with your new friends! Try something new! Make time for adventure.
GET INVOLVED! When I was an undergraduate student, I did not understand the value of professional organizations. I had never been to a conference or put myself out there to present. Being an #SAgrad allowed me many amazing opportunities and I am thankful that I had mentors who encouraged me to take advantage of them. I am realizing now that those connections I made through professional organizations are helpful in not only the job search but also in my first position.
Too many nights I sacrificed sleep for friends or homework until I realized that was not making me a healthy student or person. Listen to your body and figure out what you need. Make it non-negotiable. When your body is exhausted and run down, the work you are doing isn’t of your best quality anyways so you might as well get some shut eye.
Whatever that means to you. For me, that means: frozen yogurt (with more toppings than yogurt), a long yoga session, going to the movies, reading a book (that is not required reading), or writing a letter to an old friend. Every once in awhile, it is okay to treat yourself.
Enjoy the ride
It’ll be over before you know it.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Danny Malave on New Professional Retrospective on the Job Search