Knowing what I know now: The carnival


Ever since I posted some retrospective advice for grad school last month and Scicurious proposed a Carnival of Advice, folks have been sending in reflections on their previous career stage.
The result is exactly what I’d hoped for — a chorus of advice from different perspectives, out of which you can start to hear common themes: the importance of self-discipline, but also self-care; the value of professional and personal relationships; and the stress-relieving power of time in the kitchen or outdoors. To write this up, I’ve pulled a single bullet point from each contribution, but everyone had far more to say than I can render into neat little sound-bites. As with all blog carnivals, this is really just a series of prompts for you to go Read the Whole Thing.
Without further ado, here’s what we’d have done differently, if only we’d known then what we know now:
Right here at the Molecular Ecologist, Aleeza Gerstein advised grad students that they should be their own top priority; Sean Hoban pointed out that it can pay to e-mail folks whose work you admire; and Katie Lotterhos reminded us all to pay attention to grammatical detail.
Bjørn Østman says he would’ve done more reading.
Jeremy Fox tells us that teaching your first class is terrifying — for everyone.
Arthropod Ecology reminds us to know when to say no.
Christie Wilcox advises grad students to take charge.
Brash Equilibrium — aka Benjamin Chabot-Hanowell — wishes he’d taken more time for his social life.
Scicurious recommends keeping a bible (not that kind) to help stay organized.
BabyAttachMode points outs that it pays to write everything down.
At My Laser Boyfriend, KK reminds us all that imposter syndrome is real.
Bashir suggests keeping a close eye on the folks in the cohort just ahead of yours.
If you’re an undergrad thinking about grad school, gigglenoodle advises you try the research experience in more than one lab.
The Infactorium reminds us that the only good reason to start a doctorate is because you really want a doctorate.
And at Lost in Transcription, Jon F. Wilkins lists all the reasons not to go to grad school.
Edmund Hart politely suggests that graduate students get out while they still can.
But Steve Hamblin says that, looking back on his Ph.D., he wouldn’t change a thing.
And, in a late addition (my fault, not hers): Joanna at squirreledthoughts says that, in hindsight, she wishes she’d planned ahead more.
Thanks again to everyone who sent in contributions!

About Jeremy Yoder

Jeremy B. Yoder is an Associate Professor of Biology at California State University Northridge, studying the evolution and coevolution of interacting species, especially mutualists. He is a collaborator with the Joshua Tree Genome Project and the Queer in STEM study of LGBTQ experiences in scientific careers. He has written for the website of Scientific American, the LA Review of Books, the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Awl, and Slate.
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