Saturday, November 1, 2008

Tricks and Treats of Academic Life

So I'm a little late for this month's Scientiae but I still want to write on the topic. Here I go...

Some of my tricks:
Keep your head up at conferences. You never know who you may meet at a workshop, over lunch, or in an open committee meeting. Working the whole conference can help you forge invaluable relationships over time. The more awareness you have of the conference scope, tempo and feel, the easier it becomes to sound intelligent within the space.

Avoid touchy discussion unless relevant. Mostly politics and religion falls into these categories. Race, class, and gender conversations require an appropriate window of time and a decent level of relationship. If there's a venue to discuss these touchy topics, I have always found it helpful to go provided they do not have a huge "time and energy" vacuum effect beyond what I'm willing to invest.

Know your catalog. If you find yourself tending towards a research area that spans more than your major field, then keep up with other departments, professors, and relevant courses. Extending your plan of study with space holders of "I would love to take this kind of course if offered" can help keep your radar attuned.

Be yourself. Know why you're in your program, even if the reflection resides in your journal only to be seen by your significant other. Pick your battles, but it's worth doing everything you can to hold fast to your motivations. Once you graduate, you're mostly on your own, not doing things professionally because someone told you that you must. I am doing my best to practice that in my graduate school experience.

No shortage of intellectual conversation. I love being surrounded by thoughtful people, even if I disagree with them.

Flexible work time and space. Planned ahead I can choose where I spend my time. I can't always control what I am doing at a particular time, but I can make sure that my work occasionally occurs in environments I enjoy.

The feeling of doing something new and different. I really like the thrill I get by thinking I'm exploring things in a unique way.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Your first trick is a really good one. I found that some (important) people remembered who I was and what I was doing because I took time to talk to them and sound semi-intelligent.