Tag Archives: advice

Organizing my Grad School Life (Year 2)!

Hi everyone!

Hopefully when you’re reading this I’ll be somewhere in Washington DC on vacation, so even though I got some amazing blog posts ideas this week on Tumblr, I thought I’d start off September with something a bit more chill and talk about how I plan to organize my life this year.

This is essentially a compilation of all the organizational techniques I either developed last year or am trying out this year. It’s just simple tricks I use to make my planning and organization of the billions of sheets of papers I go through just a little bit less overwhelming.

Continue reading Organizing my Grad School Life (Year 2)!

Working from Home

0625_workfromhome_630x420I always thought that working from home is an art form. There have been many times where I wanted to be productive at home, yet these days are instead spent watching silly youtube videos or scrolling through Tumblr. You know, the complete opposite of what I’m aiming for. Go figure.

Unfortunately when you’re a student, sometimes working from home is a must. Whether you need to finish an assignment on the weekend or maybe need to concentrate on that paper you’ve been procrastinating, sometimes home might just be the best place to work in order to avoid the distractions of school and the office.

Continue reading Working from Home

Caltech’s Chemistry Graduate Program

ct_cellularsignaling_spotlightOh hi there! I see you’re interested in applying to Caltech’s chemistry program. I’m assuming that you stopped by our Graduate Program Website before heading this way, but perhaps just got a bit overwhelmed with all the information university websites seem to throw at you and the various different links you have to click through to get any useful information… It’s okay. I felt the same way. That’s why I’m going to provide a more digestible version, with the addition of my own insight and advice I’ve formulated from my experiences thus far.

Last edited on 10/19/18.

Continue reading Caltech’s Chemistry Graduate Program

Tips to Survive Your First Year of Grad School!

FirstYearSurvival_Tips_CCBlog

Hey! Hey! Guys, guess what?

…Did you guess yet?

I’m a second year grad student!!! *internally screams*

I know! I know! I don’t believe it either! Despite this crazy ride, I somehow managed to get through my first year and live to tell the tale! I can hardly believe it myself. There were definitely times I was tempted to quit…but, alas, here I am…ready to power through all the things that year two will bring (read: candidacy…*shudders*).

Like I said, it was definitely a crazy year, but since when is grad school ever easy? However,  as hindsight is 20/20, I decided today I would talk about a couple of lessons I wish I had known going in–lessons that probably would have saved me a lot of anxiety and stress…

Continue reading Tips to Survive Your First Year of Grad School!

The First Generation Struggle

FirstGen_CCBlog

Art credit: Cindy Luo (Daily Trojan)

There wasn’t any doubt I would go to college one day. Learning was my past time. My passion. The sheer idea that I would someday be able to attend an institution dedicated to acquiring knowledge was like a dream come true. I couldn’t wait! But, honestly, if I was being completely truthful that wasn’t the full reason of why I wanted to go to college. After all, I could see right in front of me just how much more difficult life is for those who don’t have a degree. I didn’t want that life. I wanted something better.
Continue reading The First Generation Struggle

On Choosing Research Groups & Grad Advisors

working-with-your-advisors

So, I’m like a month late to the party, but April 15th was the final deadline for most US PhD students to officially accept a grad school offer. Congrats, you guys! In a few short months, you will begin your grad school adventure!

However, the big decisions aren’t over. After all, not all of you were accepted directly into a lab. In fact, most of you will have to participate in rotations or find some other means to narrow down which group you want to join and which professor you want to work under. In other words, the next choice you will have to make is deciding which research group do you want to spend the next 5+ years of your life working with. No pressure, right?
Continue reading On Choosing Research Groups & Grad Advisors

Grad Student Guilt: Taking Breaks

Disclaimer: Though this article mainly talks about grad school experiences, this topic is applicable to many different types of people and the advice is applicable to anyone who feels the expectation to be constantly working. 

phd100715s

Grad school is an interesting beast. You’re neither a student, nor an Adult(TM) and as such, you really get none of the benefits from either category. That is, you don’t have the surplus of free time between classes that you once had in college, nor does work limit itself to 40 hours a week like it tends to do in Adult World. Continue reading Grad Student Guilt: Taking Breaks

Lessons from Packing for Field Research

recently-updated140-650x840So two weekends ago, I had to help a couple lab members get ready for their research field campaign. It was quite a learning experience, if I do say so myself, especially because I will have to be doing the same for my field work in a few short months. Anyway, because I found the experience so humorous and insightful, I thought I’d share the lessons I’ve learned with those who are or are planning to be in disciplines that do a lot of field work. Continue reading Lessons from Packing for Field Research

Skills of a Successful STEM Grad Student

traits-for-massive-success-in-businessBeing successful in grad school takes a lot of effort and a lot of different skills. Of course, to succeed as a STEM grad student, your knowledge and technical skill set in your specific discipline are definitely important. However, there are many other skills required in order to be a successful grad student that, of course, no one ever seems to tell you about.

So, in no order, here are the skills that I’ve found are needed across the board, in order to get through grad school ad a STEM student. Continue reading Skills of a Successful STEM Grad Student

Grad School: The Temptation to Quit

Though this blog post is directed towards those going through difficult grad school experiences, the advice given is completely applicable for anyone going through similar situations.

167It was a bad quarter. Though I somehow managed to escape relatively unscathed and pass my classes… hell is not an adequate enough word to describe how low some days got. In fact, some days my mental health was in such peril that many times I felt like walking into my boss’s office and tell him to take me off the project I’m working on… or, on the worst days, tell him I’m quitting the program for good.

In the end, I did neither of these things and after a day or two the feelings passed. However, I remember that afterwards I just felt so guilty. Because, here I am. I’m the first in my family that has been given the opportunity to graduate from college and continue my higher education. I have a rare chance to pursue a career that I am so passionate for and possibly make a difference. Yet, for some reason, despite all this, I’ve thought of walking away countless times. Quitting. Continue reading Grad School: The Temptation to Quit