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10 ways to succeed 10 ways to fail in Graduate School CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop Rachel Pottinger, University of British Columbia Kathryn McKinley, University.

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Presentation on theme: "10 ways to succeed 10 ways to fail in Graduate School CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop Rachel Pottinger, University of British Columbia Kathryn McKinley, University."— Presentation transcript:

1 10 ways to succeed 10 ways to fail in Graduate School CRA-W Grad Cohort Workshop Rachel Pottinger, University of British Columbia Kathryn McKinley, University of Texas at Austin

2 About Rachel Pottinger Exploring options + Computer science Great teacher Exploring options Undergraduate research Internship at Microsoft Fantastic man Marry Steve 2000 Great research + U. of Washington Supportive envir. PhD in 2004 Great research + Asst. Prof at Fantastic people + U. of British Columbia Two-body problem 2004

3 About Kathryn McKinley Love math Love math Computer Science Computer Science Love boys Love boys UG Research Summer UG Research Summer Marry Scotty 1985 Marry Scotty 1985 Love research Love research Rice PHd 1992 Rice PHd 1992 & France & France Post Doc, Ecole des Mines Post Doc, Ecole des Mines Asst Prof UMass 1993 Asst Prof UMass 1993 Tenure 1999 Tenure 1999 Move to UT Austin 01 Move to UT Austin 01 Full Prof 05 Full Prof 05 Love boys Love boys Cooper 1995 Cooper 1995 Dylan 1998 Dylan 1998 Wyatt 2001 Wyatt 2001

4 10 Ways to Fail 10 Ways to Succeed

5 Way to fail # 1: Compete ruthlessly with other students  You can’t get ahead by helping others  The really smart people don’t need to work together  I can work harder than everyone else Corollary: constantly compare yourself to others Corollary: the fastest way out is the best

6 Way to succeed # 1: Work better, not longer  Form study groups  Form support groups  Talk research with students in your research group  Don’t equate long hours with good work or high productivity  Have a life outside of graduate school

7 Way to fail # 2: Never ask for help  Never ask for clarification if something doesn’t make sense  Never talk to other people when you’re having problems  Never ask people for their insight on similar problems

8 Way to succeed # 2: Believe in your own strengths  The imposter syndrome may tell you that everyone belongs here except you  Everyone is figuring out graduate school, not just you  Research skills and good grades skills are not the same  You’re not in grad school by a fluke

9 Way to fail # 3: Constantly fight the system  Your advisor will change if you just try hard enough  You can single-handedly make everything better for all students

10 Way to succeed # 3: Tailor goals/experience to you  Why are you in graduate school?  What do you want out of graduate school?  How can you get it?  Accommodate your goals to your progress

11 Way to fail # 4: Avoid your advisor  You don’t need an advisor  Your advisor may know you haven’t gotten anything done  Your advisor doesn’t want to meet with you anyway Corollary: Avoid all faculty

12 Way to succeed # 4: Know when to hold them, Know when to fold them…  Many people prefer to stick with a project or advisor because you have so much invested in them  Do consider those investments  But the costs of staying with an advisor or project that aren’t working may be higher than new investment costs

13 Way to fail # 5: Fixate on grades  Don’t do research because it takes away from your grades  Think you’re no good because your grades are bad

14 Way to succeed # 5: Do an internship  Get a new view on research  Learn about working in industry  Work with new people  Meet students from other universities  At the very least work with more than one person during your career

15 Way to fail # 6: Never write anything down  You can keep everything in your head  You don’t have to write anything until your thesis

16 Way to succeed # 6: Research journal and/or wiki  Research consists of many steps  Those steps are easy to forget  Research journal shows you what you’ve accomplished  A research journal shows your advisor what you’ve accomplished  Online journal -- shared with your advisor wiki with your meeting notes, experiments, related work, ideas, etc. wiki with your meeting notes, experiments, related work, ideas, etc.

17 Way to fail # 7: Never go on vacation  The more hours you work, the better you’ll do  Going on vacation means you’ll fall behind

18 Way to succeed # 7: Celebrate accomplishments  Write it down in your research journal  Tell people about it  Eat a piece of chocolate  Do something for fun  Take a vacation!

19 Way to fail # 8: Never show initiative  Let your advisor choose your research topic  Never ask yourself why you’re doing what your doing  Never read research papers not selected by your advisor

20 Way to succeed # 8: Good time management  , work, and personal  Work when you are effective  Stephen Covey – The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Importance Urgency LowHigh

21 Way to fail # 9: Believe research is write-only  Never practice your talks  Never rewrite your papers  Never debug Corollary: never read over other people’s papers or attend their practice talks

22 Way to succeed # 9: Pursuing research problems  Have a big picture  Bite off what you can chew  Quantify it  Read the literature How far is the literature from the “best?” How far is the literature from the “best?” How can you improve on it? How can you improve on it? Choose an idea that you can make work Choose an idea that you can make work quickly, well, and/or bothquickly, well, and/or both prototype - do it the fastest way, then make it perfectprototype - do it the fastest way, then make it perfect

23 Way to fail # 10: Ignore all non-thesis research  Only go to group meetings when forced  Never go to talks outside your area  Never talk to people in other areas about research  Never take seminars or classes outside your area

24 Way to succeed # 10: Network  With your fellow students  With the professors  With your broader community  With people who visit your institution  Attend conferences  Meet someone new today!

25 Acknowledgements Thanks!  U. of Texas Speedway research group  Lindsay Michimoto (U. of Washington graduate advisor)  Steve Wolfman


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