My original idea for this post was to look at the year ahead. But being a second year grad student, I decided to search through my notes from last year and analyze my academic goals back then. Perhaps because I was just starting, I have to say they were quite general: it was simply a list of transferrable skills that I thought could be useful for other aspects of my life as well.
Looking back, I would perhaps add quite a few more, but overall I am happy that I’ve been able to make at least some progress in these original items so far. So I’d like to share a few items with you and also read in the comments your thoughts on them, in addition to your own items. Without further ado, here is my 2010 list:
- Career Self-Management
When you finish a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree, you often start working in a company and the career path might seem straightforward in some cases. But at the PhD level, one needs to take her/his own career in hands. Ideally that involves more freedom, but in general it involves a lot of work as well, such as knowing very well your field, all the players in the ‘market’, and being able to promote yourself effectively. What takes me to the next item…
- Speak in public and defend my ideas
With time you might get good at some things, but it is not always easy to convince others and convey your message effectively. As a PhD student, you simply have to do it!
- Improve writing skills
That coincides with the goal of the previous one on improving my communication skills, but this time in writing. It is particularly difficult when you write in a language which is not your own. As with most of skills, we only get better at it by practicing, practicing, practicing… For that I decided not to limit myself to “scientific” writing and participate on this blog. So you will have to bear with me, my dear reader, while I practice!
- Read more and more effectively
There is simply so much to read that it can easily become overwhelming. In grad school one simply cannot survive without developing better reading skills. And once more, with practice we get better at it, not only becoming capable of reading more pages, but also being able to retain more of the ideas from the papers. But when is the best time to read? With what tools? In what order? I can’t say I have found the best way yet. In particular, I’ve been struggling to decide between reading on paper or on the iPad. More about that in a future post…
Yes, I know… this might read as a journalistic post and, to a certain extent, impersonal. Well, that is intentional… for now. I’m just warming up! Being in Montreal for two years now and a grad student since last year, I do have quite a few stories to share and I’m really excited to be part of this blog (and by the way, thank you for the editors for giving me this space!).