GradHacker Contest: Swag for Wisdom


I am sure that many of you are familiar with, if not avid readers of, GradHacker.  The online community hosted on Inside Higher Ed also covers the lived experience of the graduate researcher and academic.  For the summer, the blog quiets down (as I’m sure everyone else is recovering from the academic year).  However, they are taking the opportunity to host some interesting contests, and the most recent is one which I participated.  “Swag for Wisdom:  A Fair Exchange” asks readers to share their best advice for incoming graduate students for a chance to win some GradHacker swag.  Prize or not, I love sharing lessons learned.  So, here was my advice:

  • “My tweet-sized advice is ‘Be confident in steering your own ship. Follow your gut & speak assuredly about your research.’ One of the biggest barriers I have had to overcome is the idea that I deserve the seat at the table. Especially in the beginning, I was quick to be self-critical or assume that because a colleague farther along in the program or a professor raised an objection, that objection meant that all my research/thinking was flawed. Yes, there are others in the university that you are here to learn from and that will share years of expertise with you beyond your experience and knowledge. But, as a graduate student, you are building a level of expertise in your own area that can be new, exciting, or a learning experience for your advisors and colleagues. When you endeavor to complete a PhD, you are zeroing in on a topic others have not covered, or are making discoveries that have not yet been tested. In those instances, you have to learn the art of explaining your process, your experience, and articulate that what you are doing is worthwhile. People aren’t asking “Why?” because it’s not good enough. They are asking “Why?” because they want to know.”

Have something to share with the new crop of incoming grad students?  What do you wish you had known when starting the process?  Share it here on GradHacker and then tweet your advice with a link to the page and the #1styrgrad hashtag.


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