How I Survived My First Year of Graduate School (and you can too!)

Around this time last year, I had finally received that life-altering email that had prompted numerous hits of the refresh button by the minute: an acceptance into a doctoral program. At first it was all cheers of joys and phone calls to distant family members and facebook statuses with one-off triple-digit number of likes. As April turned into May turned into June; however, and August was clearly in the horizon, a lot of the thrill started to be replaced by a crippling fear.

Much like anyone who had ever been in this place before, I began self-diagnosing an early case of Imposter syndrome. No way I was ready for this! The selection committee had obviously made a mistake! Even now I get that feeling fairly often, however, somehow I am nearing the end of my first year and I survived! I didn’t fail statistics or get escorted off the campus compounds by security, mirroring a particularly mortifying nightmare. I am still here and I plan to be until I have that Ph.D degree, even if there is a tiny voice in the back of my head asking me if I deserve to be. I am doing well. The hard part is the beginning because it comes with the most variances of uncertainties and insecurities. The hardest bit is over and the rest may resemble a roller-coaster ride more than a walk in the park, but I am all buckled up.

Here are some tips that helped me not only survive but cherish my first year of graduate school. I hope it will help those of you worried about starting out this fall. (more…)

Focused Fatigue: Parenting Equally in Graduate School

Photo by: Lori Stamm, http://www.clickigotcha.com/ used with expressed permission of photographer

Photo by: Lori Stamm, http://www.clickigotcha.com/ used with expressed permission of photographer

I am a traditional parent and I began my parenting journey while in graduate school.  I am traditional in that boring two-parent household, two incomes, one dog, two children and a whole mess of bills, kind of way.  What makes us interesting however is how we partner in our parenting and household maintenance.  I know, I know – what’s new or progressive about being partners, isn’t that more of the same old style?  Not quite.  I’m serious when I say we are parenting as equals and it mattered A LOT to my work/life balance while earning a PhD.

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Difference and Support: To be a (Queer) Scholar of Color

Class

(Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AStudenti_ULBS.jpg)

 

For many (Queer) scholars of color (Queer is in parentheses because not all scholars of color identify somewhere on the Queer spectrum), including myself, attending graduate school is an enormous milestone. In my family, I am the first to attend college, let alone a graduate program. It was weird growing up, and to know that no one in your family could help you with your homework. When I was in 8th grade, I helped my cousin with her 12th grade math homework, so she could graduate high school. Although I knew my family would provide moral support, the support I actually needed would not come from them. I went through my undergraduate career without any role models with whom I could identify. Majority of the professors who provided me with opportunities, believed in me, and/or provided what support they could, were, majority, cisgender white women. I am thankful for all the opportunities and countless references these professors have provided for me. Statistically, I knew the amount of (Queer) scholars of color in graduate programs would be minimal: but, I had no idea about the trifling amount of support, or community, I would find in my graduate program. (more…)

The Perils of Dating a PhD Student (or: an Honest Academic’s Dating Profile… )

Graduate Student Advice Month

http://www.phdcomics.com/

http://www.phdcomics.com/

Last year at a conference I was talking to one of my mentors about how it felt to be in the final year of a PhD. She asked me if I was in a relationship with anyone, and I said I wasn’t. Her reply summed it up:

“That’s probably for the best.” (more…)

Inside the Black Box: How Publishing Works

Source: Shit Academics Say Twitter @AcademicsSay

Source: Shit Academics Say Twitter @AcademicsSay

When I’m not busy working on my classwork, thesis or on Sociology Lens posts, I serve as the inaugural Managing Editor for the new American Sociological Association’s Section on Racial and Ethnic Minorities’ journal Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, published by Sage. In this capacity, I am responsible for the day-to-day functioning of the journal including author inquiries and managing our submission portal. Being in this position gives me an insider position to the black box of publishing a manuscript. First, I will explain the manuscript publication process, and then I will conclude with my “Managing Editor’s list of do’s and don’ts when publishing.” (more…)

Five tips on applying for a PhD

Graduate Student Advice Month

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The view from my favourite coffee shop in Anyang, South Korea – where I plotted my escape to UK academia.

When you’re partway through something, it rarely occurs to you to stop and remember how you got there in the first place. I’m around a year-and-a-half into my PhD programme now, and as part of Sociology Lens’ graduate advice month, I thought I’d write up some tips on how to apply for a PhD. Doing so has made me recall exactly how I got here in the first place, and it all started, like so very few stories do, in a coffee shop in a suburb of Seoul…

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Five Things I Wish I had Known Before Starting My PhD

 Graduate Student Advice Month

Picture from: www.toothpastefordinner.com

 

Nobody really knows what is like to do a PhD until they do one. I am half way through mine and I still only half know what it is like to do one very specific PhD: my own. Everyone’s experience is unique to their own research topic, their own field site and their own personality, but many of the challenges, pressures and anxieties we encounter are more similar than we realise. We all seem to spend most of our time oscillating between contradictory emotions (hope and despair, enthusiasm and exhaustion, excitement and frustration), hoping that eventually all of this turmoil might (miraculously) become something worthy of calling a thesis.

I wouldn’t really call the following five things ‘advice’, and they are by no means a description of how I have been approaching my own research so far. At best, they are a few things that I now know I need to keep reminding myself of, and that other researchers might be able to identify with. (more…)

Introduction: Graduate Student Advice Month

My first year of graduate school was rough. Really rough. I had a hard time transitioning and moving from an undergraduate institution that I loved to a school (though I love it now) that was no where near the top of my list of schools I wanted to attend. To make matters worse, when I sought out advice from other graduate students, there was no place, no sense of community, for the graduate students to gather and discuss. When I turned to the internet, I was shocked to find that there wasn’t even a sociological blog for graduate students and by students to share our experiences, advice, and woes.

Flash forward to almost a year and a half later, where I am in a much better place with research underway, a completed degree in sight, friends, a few publications, and this role with Sociology Lens. Now with these experiences under my belt, I feel that it is time that I “pay it forward” to fellow and future graduate students who may be in the same place that I was in last year. Sociology Lens, I felt as I was joining the team, was perfect– graduate students, all of which think with a critical sociological lens, writing for graduate students. Who better to give advice than fellow people living through the same situation at the same time? Granted context is always different, whether it be forms of identity, location, department culture, or whatever, current advice from current students is much needed.

With much work and determination, I am honored to introduce that that is what we have upcoming for the month of April: “Graduate Student Advice Month:” real advice from real graduate students for graduate students. We have worked together over the past two months compiling a list of relevant topics pertinent to graduate students today, from publishing to teaching to work/life balance. This thematic month will begin on Wednesday, April 1st with a piece by George Byrne entitled, “Five things I wish I had know before starting my PhD.” Each post will be categorized as “special issue” and tagged with “GradMonth” so that you can easily find each post. Also make sure to check us out on Twitter, comment on our posts, and share our pieces far and wide! Together, we can start a dialogue and strengthen our community. We hope that you enjoy.

 

Check Us Out on Twitter:

@SociologyLens

Huw Davies: @huwcdavies

Scarlett E. Brown: @ScarlettEBrown

Tara Stamm: @TaraStammily

Roger Tyers: @RogerTyersUK

George Byrne: @_GeorgeByrne

Megan Nanney: @mpnanney

From Farm to Market: The Complications in the Quinoa Economy

Within the last decade, the grain quinoa has emerged as an alleged “super food” in western dietary practices. Health food stores and upscale grocery chains have isles dedicated to varieties of quinoa, packaged under many different brand labels, touting it to be a nutritional goldmine. A simple Google search of the word “quinoa” returns pages of results with buzzwords like “healthiest”, “organic” and “wholesome.” Vegan and health-enthusiast subcultures swear by this expensive food product, and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) even declared the year 2013 “International Year of the Quinoa,” owing to the grain’s popularity in what they call “the gourmet kitchen.” The journey of the grain as it makes it to the gourmet kitchen at upscale restaurants in countries like the United States, however, is often overlooked in mainstream discourse. (more…)

Who invented the World Wide Web and the Internet?

 

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Source: http://www.webbyawards.com/the-difference-between-the-internet-and-the-web/

When ‘A’ claims they invented ‘X’ as a sociologist of technology my default position is often to respond with scepticism: as I did when I saw this picture above. I understand why Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Vint Cerf would claim they invented the World Wide Web and the Internet respectively. The status of inventor gives each of them a public plinth from which they can discuss how they think digital technology should be mobilised for the benefit of society. Examining their claims to fame is not an attempt to debunk these men’s status: it’s an exercise to show that technology never emerges in isolation. The sociology of technology tells us the invention and development of the Web and the Internet, like all technology, has to be understood within a broader social context that involves networks of people and technology as well as cultural values. I can’t do this statement justice here. By applying this logic to these t-shirts in the picture above I can, however, begin to show the value of the sociology of technology. (more…)