From student to scholar: 10 pieces of advice for surviving a doctoral program
When are they going to realize I've no idea what I'm doing?
2. Don't save the world, just write the damn paper.
UMN recruited a pretty diverse group of doc students from all over the globe. Just in my classes alone there were students from Ghana, Pakistan, Thailand, South Korea (a lot!), China, Taiwan, Japan, Jamaica, Bahamas, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland and Russia. God bless them, one and all, for wanting to complete their PhD and SAVE THEIR COUNTRY. I'm not even kidding. That was their goal, to reform their country's educational system or change the culture of women's access to information or start a national human resource development movement in their nation's largest organizations. Me? I just wanted to finish to be able to keep my job and get tenure.
Bartlett's take? A completed dissertation is just the beginning of your career. Use it as a stepping stone for a lifetime of research and reform. If you try to use it to save the world, you'll never leave here with those three little initials behind your name.
I should also mention my dissertation chair, Dr. Alexandre Ardichvili (yes, I can type that correctly without looking at the spelling on the website now) taught me these three profound words: "No. Too big." Say it in a patient Russian accent and there you have it. His approval and edits were like manna from heaven when I was deep in self-doubt and drowning in data. Doc students often complain about the horrible advising they receive (read: none). I had the absolute opposite experience and I'm completely and forever grateful because I know I found a rare bird in Sasha (nickname).
I've heard horror stories about advisers pushing their own research agendas and insisting on co-authorship (or, sometimes, first-authorship) on any future publications. I'm here to say - this is not the way to get done, successfully. If you have a selfish, power-driven adviser, drop them like a hot rock and seek other mentorship immediately.
- suck it up
- just write the paper, don't save the world (^see above)
- let's do this
- bring it
- go put on your big girl panties and stop complaining
- "Stand" by Rascal Flatts was my flagship song