I’ve mentioned it plenty of times in previous blog posts, but I thought it was time to write a full post specifically about networking. Some students love it, some students hate it, but all students need it. Plenty of benefits come when people network, including contacts with professional people in your area and potentially around the country (depending on where your contacts move), support during grad school and beyond, links…

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I have gotten mixed feedback about whether I should go straight into grad school or work in the field for a few years before starting. When I think about my long term goals, I am more concerned about future employers and career opportunities, rather than the short term goals of having more money now. Do you think it would be best to push through and get my Master’s now, or would the experience in the field be helpful? –More School or Work Now? Dear More School or Work Now, This is a great question, and can often depend on the opportunities that are available to you after you graduate with a Bachelor’s degree. If you have an opportunity to start your career when you complete your undergraduate degree, it can be hard to pass on that type of offer.

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I am in my third year of a five year PhD program, and the further I get into my field of study, the more I realize that this is not the field/career choice for me. I have invested so much time, money, and effort on this degree so far, but I really do not see myself being happy if this is what I do the rest of my life. I am seriously considering dropping out of the program, but I don’t want the whole experience to be a waste. What do I do? –Changing Fields Dear Changing Fields, This may be the most commonly asked question of all graduate students. In fact, I don’t know a single student who has survived graduate school without asking this of themselves.

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I have noticed that the relationship that I have with my professors seems somewhat more personal than teachers in high school, especially when working on research teams and other projects when we spend more time working collaboratively outside of the class room. Is it appropriate to add my professor to my FaceBook, etc? –Walking the Line Dear Walking the Line, This is a personal decision that will depend on multiple factors. First, are other students “friends” with this professor on Facebook? It is often wise to take a cue from senior students, as they may have specific insights into this quandary.

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Grad school has you wondering how you’re going to pay for it all? Here are a few financial options, as well as their implications. Full Funding (i.e., a free ride) I once heard a professor say, “The hardest part about graduate school is getting in.” I would like to add that the hardest part about graduate school is getting fully funded. Fully funded programs are highly competitive, but well…

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I’m sitting at a crossroads with my dissertation right now. I’m struggling to decide whether or not the best possible decision for me is to try and quickly finish my dissertation project or to stay here a 5th year. If I stay for the 5th year, one of my colleagues will be on the job market before me and I worry that may ruin my chances for an academic position. What is the best option? –Early Bird Gets the Job? Dear Early Bird, Although it is true that the search for an academic position can be competitive, I do not believe it would be a problem to have two similar candidates in the job market around the same time.

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I have been working on my dissertation very diligently, and I have turned in several drafts to my advisor. She has had multiple drafts for many weeks now, and I have yet to see any comments and she is not responding to my emails. What do I do? –Silent Service Dear Silent Service, Before you start to stress out about not receiving a draft, remember that advisors have a lot going on, including managing a lab (sometimes with multiple graduate students), teaching multiple classes (sometimes with hundreds of students), and performing administrative duties (which can often be more time-consuming than any other task).

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Going to a conference soon? Make use of your time by introducing yourself to others in your field. Don’t be shy! Going to a conference is more than just listening and presenting research. It’s an opportunity to meet people outside your school who have the same interests that you do. If you successfully make new contacts at a conference, you may be in the wonderful position of sharing research collaborations,…

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So last week I talked a lot about what graduate school burnout is, and some warning signs that you might be experiencing burnout. This week I will be talking about what to do if you are experiencing some of the signs of burnout. Below are some helpful ways to help battle burnout and help you regain your passion for your field, knowledge, and your future career trajectory. Give Yourself…

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I am sensing some tension between my advisor and I, now that I am in the last year and finishing my dissertation. Communication seems to take forever and short almost ambiguous feedback. We used to talk frequently, but lately things seem strained. What can I do to repair the relationship? –Worried Dear Worried, Thank you for asking this question because communication with your advisor is one of the most important elements of a successful graduate career, but it’s also one of the most ignored. In this time of your graduate career, a major thing you’ll have to remember is the amount of stress that you and your advisor are experiencing.

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