I recently stumbled across this Open Letter to New Graduate Students by Brian Croxall over at the Chronicle for Higher Education. I think he does an excellent job of summing up what a new grad student needs to know to be prepared to start grad school. The Chronicle for Higher Education focuses on the social sciences, but, for the most part, the advice written here applies to all areas of graduate studies.
The two things that jumped out at me were his sections “Recognize that graduate school is a job” and “build an online profile.” I think grad students often forget that graduate school is more similar to a job than what we typically think of as school. I say this because as a grad student, once you finish your courses and move on to research, you need to be quite self driven. If you don’t work on propelling yourself forward, it’s possible you’ll just sort of coast along and never finish. To be successful, you need to be willing to put in the work required. This means finding ways to motivate yourself to keep plugging away at it even when you don’t want to.
I’m taking the suggestion to build an online profile and am looking into buying a domain name with my full name. Once I have that, I will use the website to post my CV and other basic information – what University I’m at, who I’m working with, etc – so with a quick search people can receive a quick, accurate, overview of who I am.
He includes a bunch of comments he gathered from Twitter when he asked his followers what is the one piece of advice they’d give new graduate students. Both Brian Croxall and some of the people he gathered comments from may be worth looking up on Twitter to see what type of advice and other tweets they share.