Advice for Thriving at the Graduate Center
These recent graduates and current students give their tips to those who are just starting their graduate school journey.
What do you wish you’d known when you were first starting out at the Graduate Center? That’s a question we often ask our recent alumni, and also our current students, as they are getting close to the end of their programs. From striving toward the job of your dreams to taking care of your health and well-being, here are some of our favorite tips:
Elvira Basevich (Ph.D. ’17, Philosophy), who is joining the University of California, Davis, as an assistant professor of philosophy, explains why you pursue work that you think is difficult and necessary. “Many spend lifetimes making small interventions in big problems,” she says. “Feel free to reinvent the wheel.”
Eric Bayruns García (Ph.D. ’19, Philosophy), a faculty fellow in residence at Harvard University's Safra Center for Ethics with plans to move on to a tenure-track position at McMaster University, says that going to conferences and connecting with researchers in your area makes a huge difference in getting opportunities to write invited pieces.
Maya Harakawa (Ph.D. ’22, Art History), who is joining the University of Toronto’s art history department, advises “building up a cohort of faculty members who can help you and mentor you in different ways, rather than looking for one person.”
Angela Crumdy (Ph.D. ’23, Anthropology), who is beginning a Provost Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, advises participating more rather than taking perfect notes: “I wish I’d known that it was OK to share my ideas in the classroom even if I didn’t have everything completely figured out.”
Nayma Qayum (Ph.D. ’14, Political Science), a professor at Manhattanville College and the author of a recent book, reminds you to take it a little easier on yourself, and not to lose sight of “your health, your emotional well-being, spending time with loved ones, doing things you care about.”
Maureen Coyle (Ph.D. ’22, Psychology), who is starting as a tenure-track assistant professor at Widener University, recommends devoting time to collaborative projects that go beyond your immediate advisers, so you can understand how successful collaborations work.
Matthew Goldberg (Ph.D. ’18, Psychology), an associate research scientist at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, stresses the importance of doing “high-impact work that solves real-world problems.”
Kwame Ocran (M.A. ’22, Liberal Studies), a Macaulay Honors College graduate, says that he suffered with impostor syndrome going into the master’s degree, but learned to “trust the process, because eventually you'll find your way.”
Anna Zhelnina (Ph.D. ’21, Sociology), a postdoctoral researcher in Finland who has co-authored a book on social movements, advises taking classes outside of your program, and also taking advantage of the workshops offered by the Teaching and Learning Center and the Writing Center.
Han Chen, a pianist who is starting his fifth year in the D.M.A. program, says he realized that everyone is on a different path. “I would say to people who just came to the Graduate Center to really find themselves in this program, that this program is for you to become who you are.”
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