Writing My Thesis and Life Updates

Hello everyone. I know, I haven’t posted in like 2 week and I am extremely sorry for that. Three months from now, I’ll have to submit my first draft of my thesis, so I have been busy writing it already. many people take much longer and I have known people to start and finish theirs in a month. For me, procrastination is a huge no-no. It causes way too much stress and anxiety. Therefore, I am starting early so I don’t have to stress as much.

I really hate how we have to write our thesis so early, though. I wish they would give us until the middle of the semester, but I do understand why they want it so soon. I also have to start preparing for my defense. A friend of mine just did his two days ago which has me thinking a lot about it. It is giving me a bit of anxiety boost to continue lol.

Manuscript Writing

Aside from my thesis, I am also preparing a manuscript for publication. This will be one of potentially three or four manuscripts that I will submit in the next few months. My adviser wants to get this published in a really good scientific journal, which means it has to be close to perfect. To put it into some perspective, I have been making graphs for the past three days. But, man, these graphs look good lol. Hopefully we can get it published in a high impact journal. That would be really awesome.

What’s Next

That’s it for academic stuff. Let’s talk about what’s next in my life. So, I had a really good interview with a company, that, I think, will be where I work after grad school. It is a super reputable consulting firm that’s world-wide. I have moved to the next step in the hiring process, so we will see what happens. In other words, grad school is paying off.

Vacation

I am getting ready for my annual trip to the Keys! Seven days of fishing, relaxation, family, and most importantly, KEY LIME PIE!!!! I am super excited for this trip and have been preparing since February. My dad is getting pretty excited too. He’s been packing gear, getting chum, looking for bait, and buying tackle. I will definitely need this time off after what I’ve been through these few weeks.

Walking Challenge

On top of all of that, I am excited to announce that I finished the Appalachian Trail on my virtual walking app. I think it was 1968 miles or something like that. It took me 355 days, but I am done. That’s kind of a cool thing to accomplish. I was bored immediately after, so I signed up for the Great Wall of China challenge. This challenge is over 2100 miles. I’ll stay busy for sure with it lol.

Final Thoughts

I promise that i have not given up on blogging. I know that I was posting like 3 times a week, but life is getting a bit in the way. I will try to at least get one or two posts out a week from here on out. If you guys are looking for a specific blog post, please let me know in the comments. I am looking for some topics that people actually want to read. Let me know. Anyway, I hope you guys and gals are having a great summer so far. I am busy but it is worth it. I will see you all in the next one, hopefully coming soon. Peace!

Nervous About Starting Grad School

Grad school is an amazing experience. That’s all I really want you to know in this post. I have had a wonderful time throughout my 5 and a half years as a graduate student, but starting off was nerve wracking. Being nervous about starting grad school is completely normal. Here is a secret that no one really wants you to know. Everyone is nervous at first when starting grad school. I don’t know a single person that wasn’t.

See, humans are a funny bunch of individuals. We tend to hyper focus on the negative “what ifs” that come with everything. This usually leads us to get nervous in the first place because we think “What if I fail? What if I hate my classes? What if, what if, what if!!!!” We get in this terrible cycle of what ifs and that really makes the beginning of grad school a scary experience. I am her today to tell you that being nervous about starting grad school is completely normal and you will get over that almost immediately. I am also going to share with you today some ways to handle the nerves and how to make the most of grad school at the beginning.

nervous about starting grad school

Reasons why you are nervous

1) Feeling nervous starting grad school because of uncertainty

There is a ton of uncertainty in grad school. More than undergrad, that’s for sure. I believe that uncertainty is one of the major factors that leads to people being nervous. They truly don’t know what will come next. I’ve been in this exact situation. Starting grad school was filled with nerves because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I didn’t know if I would fail or thrive. The uncertainty really caused me to worry a ton until I actually started and found out that everything was just fine.

One way that you can conquer this aspect of starting grad school is just exposing yourself to grad school. Let me explain. See, when you don’t know what is going to happen, you tend to start thinking of all the bad things that can occur instead of the good things. One way of overcoming this is exposure therapy. There will be many things that might make you nervous and the best way to overcome that feeling is to just do it. It takes a bit of courage, but it’s well worth it.

Say, you are nervous about going into the gym for the first time at school. If you gain a bit of courage and just go there, you will show your brain that it’s not as scary as you made it seem. This will make it easier to go again, because you know you are not in any danger. Same with classes. You will be nervous and won’t want to go. Once you go to your first class, I guarantee you will feel way relieved afterwards.

nervous in grad school and making friends

2) Feeling nervous about making friends

Making friends is a very exciting and nerve wracking experience. Every year, I have to go out and make new friends because all of my current friends are leaving. That is a struggle about being in a PhD program. Anyway, I find that it get’s a bit harder the higher you get up in your education. Grad school is as high as you will get which means that making friends might be a bit of a struggle. It is no the end of the world, though. I actually have a few posts about friendships in grad school. Go check them out here and definitely check out this one about how to make friends in grad school. All of these posts are quite helpful.

Friendships will take a bit of time in grad school. It will make you a bit nervous when you are working a while and haven’t made many or any friends. Give it time. I promise that it will happen but might take some time. For me, I had some friends from undergrad that were still in school, so that made it easier. When they left, I had to work to make friends. It took a few months and a few classes, but I managed to gain a ton of really good friends. Just because you don’t have many friends at first, doesn’t mean you won’t make a ton.

3) Nervous about the amount of work

nervous about work in grad school

This is a justifiable reason to be nervous. The workload in grad school can be a bit overwhelming. Some days you will work 3 hours (2 of those probably sending emails or reading) and other days, you may be in the lab for 10 hours and then writing 3 papers afterwards. This is what grad school is all about lol. Though I say it is justifiable, it does not mean that you have to be nervous about it. Yes, there will be a ton of work, but you will most likely be able to handle it. Heck, you got through undergrad just fine. Actually, you did so well in undergrad that you were accepted into a grad program. You can do the work.

A way to get over being nervous for doin g the work, or being nervous about the amount of work that will come, is to plan things out and be proactive. Yes, start early. Many people complain about the amount of work they have to do because they aren’t ready for it. They may put it off until the last minute, causing more and more to pile up before it becomes overwhelming. This is totally on them and can be completely avoided if you prepare. This means starting assignments early, staying on top of deadlines, and, unfortunately, giving up all you can drink Wednesdays to get work done. I promise you that if you prepare, you will thrive.

nervous about moving somewhere for grad school

4) Felling nervous about starting grad school in another state or country

This topic can be a whole post by itself. Many people move away to another city/state/country to go to grad school. This is a huge deal for most people and can make you pretty nervous. Once again, remember that this is normal. Being nervous about moving anywhere is normal. At first you may be nervous about just being alone in an area you aren’t familiar with. Don’t fret. Think of it as an adventure and you are just starting out. All adventure start off scary but will, in time, get quite comfortable.

If you are starting grad school in a totally new area, know that it’s ok to be nervous about it. The best thing that you can do is just go out and explore. Familiarize yourself with everything as soon as possible. This will help you settle right in. You will have to give it a few months to truly get acclimated, but it will happen. During this time, call people that are close to you. Talk with them on a daily basis, which will help you get some comfort in your life during this transition. Also know, grad school goes by quickly. If you don’t like where you are, you’ll be out of there in no time. That though usually calms the nerves.

Final Thoughts

In the end, being nervous about starting grad school is actually a normal thing. I would be more concerned if you weren’t nervous to be honest. You are starting something completely new and of course there will be some nervousness that comes from it. Just know that these feelings are fine, normal, and will go away soon. You will start off a nervous wreck, but will soon find yourself in a very comfortable position. Grad school, as I said before, is a wonderful and exciting experience. It will have it’s ups and downs, but it is certainly nothing to be nervous about. For those that are starting in the fall or spring, welcome. You are definitely welcomed here.

Sorry about the lack of posts guys! I have been travelling a ton and that has really reduced the amount of screen time that I have. I promise that I will post more often from here on out and I hope you are all having a wonderful summer so far. It is getting hot out there, so make sure to drinking plenty of water lol. As always, I hope you are all having a wonderful day. If you haven’t already, go check out my post about getting ahead in college (link here). I will see you all in the next one. Peace.

Does Grad School Get Any Easier?

I am currently sitting at an airport, writing this post. I am in Arkansas for a wedding and my girlfriend and I are on our way back to FLorida. Our flight was delayed by 4 hours so far due to weather, so I figured it was a great time to write a post. Todays topic is “does grad school get easier?” I have been asked this more times than I’ve wanted to lol. It is an important question and I feel like answering it may need a whole blog post.

Grad students know how hard grad school can be at some times. There are times during the year where you just lose all hope and want to throw in the towel. There are also many days/weeks where you are having the time of your life and things are easy. Overall, grad school is a roller coaster of the good and bad, the hard and the easy, and the long nights of work and long nights of sleep. But does it get easier? The short answer is no. Grad school does not get easier. The long answer is what I will discuss with you today.

Does grad school get easier?

Grad School is hard

Yes, grad school, no matter what degree it is, will be hard. I am in engineering which is notorious for flunking more people than any other major. In grad school, all of the classes you take are hard, not only because of the topics, but also because you’re learning something new. Grad school is about learning how to be a master in a very particular subject. A master’s shows that you have mastered the area you are studying and a PhD is an apprenticeship that teaches you how to do research in those particular subjects. You are learning a ton of new info and very hard info and concepts during this time. It will be hard throughout the process. The secret of grad school is, the material stays the same difficulty but you get better at it.

You Get Better

Just like all new things in life, you are probably not going to be good at it. In fact, you are probably going to suck when you first start grad school. That awesome, that’s amazing, and you should suck at it. Why is this? because it means that you are open to learn and become an expert in your field. It also means that you don’t know everything. If you knew everything there was then getting a graduate degree would be a waste of time. In fact, if you knew everything then you should be making million son game shows. No, you don’t know everything and you will fail a ton. But that is totally fine and encouraged.

I believe this is the reason that grad school is so hard. You have spent your whole life passing exams that doing something different and out of your comfort zone really throws you off. You get into concepts that are very different than those taught in undergrad and that might make you uncomfortable. See, in undergrad, there’s a formula you live by. It’s a set way of passing exams and getting to the next class. That’s it. That’s undergrad. Grad school is about discovering the unknown and learning things that are different. At first, you may really struggle. I know I sure did. But as you go through the motions, you learn and grow. Next thing you know, you’re a master of grad school and know how to do the hard things very well.

I promise you, you can do it.

I know, you are probably struggling at this moment and that is why you are reading this. And I get it, grad school is hard. You can do it though. See, the beginning is always the hardest, as I said above. You are brand new and might not think you can do it. But graduate school is quite like all of those really uplifting movies like Mulan where the protagonist (you) struggles but then succeeds. All you need to do is put in the work and believe. Everyone, no matter how smart or hard working, is going to have a hard time in graduate school.

No matter what, it will be hard. The ones that keep going, though it’s hard, will find that they start to understand the hard concepts better. They tend to find that all of their experiments start to really work. And they start to become, though slowly, a world class researcher. It just takes some time. Everyone wants to have the results and be the best right out of the gates. But it’s the people that take it slow and steady that become the best at what they do. Be the tortoise, not the hare.

You can do it. You can make grad school much easier than it is by putting in the work and the time. For a master’s degree, it will be a quick time and you may find the whole process difficult because you aren’t there long enough. For a PhD, you’ll definitely find that it get’s easier. The questions get harder, the problems become more difficult, but you have the tools in your toolbox to handle that. You become a master. That is what graduate school is all about.

Final Thoughts

So in the end, does grad school get easier? Yes and no. Yes, because you learn, grow and develop into a researcher. No, because the concepts are just as hard as always. This is what makes it such an amazing time, though. You get to see how much you develop as a researcher. You can see how you become better at what you do. Next thing you know, you’ll be up for a Nobel Prize. All you have to do is believe and keep going. Trust me, it takes time.

Well, I would love to keep going but my plane has arrived and it is time to head back to Florida. My trip was pretty awesome and I have many new and awesome memories. Arkansas is a beautiful state and if you have the chance, go and visit. Also, visit the University of Arkansas. The campus was so beautiful. Anyway, I hope you guys are doing well and I will see you in the next one. Peace.

Life in Grad School

If you are a follower of this blog, you can pretty much see how life is for me while in grad school. Life in grad school has been a wonderful combination of ups, downs, twists, turns, and backtracks. Yes, it has been quite the journey and this is fairly similar to other’s who has joined me in my quest to obtain a doctorate.

When you think of life in grad school, you probably think of studying a ton, writing more papers than you ever wanted to, no time, and all other very negative things. The truth is, that usually occurs for a very small group of individuals. Also, you probably went on to some forum and read about everyone complaining about grad school and how terrible it is. You know what people love to do? Complain. Grad school is one of those things where it is easy to find something to complain about. Thankfully, life in grad school is much more than just work. It is a time to truly explore yourself and figure out who you are, and where you want to go.

life in grad school

What is Life Like in Grad School

Life in grad school is a combination of being an undergrad and having a full time job. You are not quite an undergrad anymore but not fully in the working field quite yet. You probably won’t have a very set schedule and might find that a bit hard to deal with, especially when you first start grad school. Let’s look at what life is like for master’s students as well as the crazy doctoral students.

What Life is Like in a Master’s Program

I write quite a bit about what you will be doing as a master’s student (link here). As a master’s student, your life will be a ton of classwork and maybe handling a parttime job, or even a full time job on top of going to school. My life, while in a master’s program was working as an engineer full time and getting my degree on the side. Yes, I was busy, but I chose that life and knew what was going to happen. It did not impact my job performance, but my job did impact my class performance.

Life in a master’s program can be really really really easy and laid back, or it can be excruciatingly difficult and busy. I am saying that it is as difficult as you make it. Some master’s programs are extremely easy. I have had friends do 1 hour of work a week for their entire grad school experience and spend the rest of the time lounging at the pool, going to the gym, and doing everything else they wanted. I have known individuals that spend more time at the lab than any Ph.D. student I know, getting lab work done, writing papers, and doing homework. These are the ones that are extremely stressed, but they chose that life.

Life for the easy master’s degree

If you choose the easy master’s degree then I suggest maybe getting some work experience or really honing on some skills. You don’t have to be busy 24 hours a day. In fact, you can focus on some skills or work while at the pool. It is a great way to make the most out of this time. If you just want to relax all day and enjoy the next two years, go right ahead. That honestly sounds like a dream!

Life for the hard master’s degree

The individuals that work all of the time. Their time in grad school will look a bit different. They may juggle 50 things at once and cry each night, but they are on a journey and have a set goal. Life in grad school for them will not be as fun as the easy path. They will make sacrifices in order to hit these goals. Nothing is wrong with that, but I suggest to these individuals to take time off and enjoy the two years they have in grad school. Once you start working, it kind of goes down hill.

Sometimes, you have a very difficult degree that you go into and you will need to work a ton. Engineering is especially tough and can cause you to spend a great amount of time in the library. Life for hard majors will look a lot like the person above. Luckily, it’s only 2 years. You can do it.

Life in grad school

What Life is Like in a PhD Program

Life as a Ph.D. student can have its ups and downs for sure. You are likely going to be in school for a very long time. This means you’ll experience everything there is that goes with grad school. At first, you’ll most likely be focused on school work. After your qualifying exam, you’ll go exclusively towards research. So, you really get the best of all worlds lol.

Life as a Ph.D. student has been quite a journey. I have experienced depression, anxiety, job satisfaction, job dissatisfaction, highs, and lows, and have learned more about myself than ever before. My life, as well as the other Ph.D. students, are fairly straightforward. We do work a ton, but we love to get out of the lab and do other things. Me, I play kickball and have a part time job. I love to go to the gym and hang with my cat, Sirius. Life in a Ph.D. program is almost like having a full time job that works you to death and pays you less than minimum wage. You try your best to finish the job and move on to something better while also trying to life a fulfilling life.

What it’s really like

For some people, research is their whole life. They wake up, go to work, then come home and go to bed. There is nothing wrong with them, but they do tend to burn out quickly. Then, there is the majority of PhD students that work 40-60 hours a week, have extracurriculars on the side, and enjoy hanging out and living a very normal life outside academia. It is quite a shame that people portray all PhD students to be workaholics that are burnt out and have no life outside academia. It’s simply not true. We have lives and we want to do things that aren’t related to our work. We are passionate about research, but we know that there is much more to life than being in the office.

Overall Life in Grad School

Overall, life in grad school is a fun time that will have its ups and downs. You are here to learn about complex ideas and figure some things out that help push the boundaries of knowledge. That doesn’t mean that you have to be a robot and work constantly. No, life in grad school is about becoming a researcher or lawyer or doctor but also figuring out who you are, where you want to go, and who you want in your life. I find that the flexibility in grad school allows me to accomplish all of these things and has definitely made me a more well-rounded individual. So, if you are readung this and thinking about whether or not to go to grad school, I say do it. Don’t be scared of hard work but know that your life won’t only be in the office. It will be all over the place, exploring so much.

Final Thoughts

I hope you found this to be a decent post about life in grad school. I find that many people are scared because they hear so many horror stories. People love to tell you the negative things that come with their experience but leave out the positives. Grad school is a positive experience and we are normal people, just hotter (more degrees ;P). Your life may look a bit different in grad school, but that is not always a negative thing.

Well all, I hope you have had a wonderful week. It’s the weekend (when currently writing this). Do you guys have any fun things planned for the upcoming week or months? Let me know in the comments below. I hope to see you guys in the next blog. Peace.

Best Advice for PhD Students

Today, I want to discuss some helpful advice for PhD students that are starting soon. A PhD is a long journey and I am sure there are a million questions that you might have. I am here to address a few of those as well as answer any more that you might have. Instead of providing my email at the end, I’ll provide it now. So, you can email me with any questions you might have. My email is benswaringen@yahoo.com.

Ok, so you are starting a PhD and you are a bit nervous about what to expect or how well you will do. There are quite a few things that we need to cover first, so you can start your grad school journey off really well. I want to p[provide some advice that I think will help you be able to make the most out of the next 4-8 years that you are here. So, let us get started on some advice for PhD Students.

Advice for PhD Students

Advice for PhD Students it goes fast

1) 4 years will go by faster than you know

This is one of the truest things that anyone has ever told me. My doctorate will be a total of 4 years. Grad school will be a total of 6 years, which is insane to think about. These years have passed by so quickly, it hurts. When you first start you doctorate program, they’ll tell you that it’s a long 4 years. They are right, in a way. Sometimes it does feel long, but man, it can pass by really quickly. When you get to year 2, after you qualifying exams, things quickly pick up. You’ll be busier than ever and days and weeks will just fly by. Enjoy the ride.

2) You don’t need to be best friends with your adviser

I know way too many people that seem to be best friends with their advisers. It’s kind of weird and makes things awkward at times. You don’t need to be besties with your adviser. They’re your boss, pretty much, and they are here to guide you through this process of becoming a researcher. If they want to be friends then sure, be friends. Just know that you don’t have to be best friends with them. Heck, you don’t even have to like them lol. But, at least, try and get along with them. It will make your time in grad school way easier.

Advice for PhD Students write often

3) Write every day

I have written quite a few posts on how important writing is in academia. You will write quite a few papers for class, journals, and the big thesis. If you start early and write every day, you will find writing to become so much easier and natural. For me, I write blog posts in the morning which helps to get me going to write maybe a bit of my thesis or even just an email lol. I have found tat writing 1000 words is so much easier now than when I first started my doctorate. Trust me. This might be one of the best pieces of advice for PhD students that I have.

Advice for PhD Students stay active

4) Keep Active

You are going to be spending a good amount of time at a desk, writing, researching, and reading articles. Make sure to get up every so often and just get active. Sedentary lifestyles are not fun and will ruin your body. Weight gain can also occur and you don’t want that. Also, staying active and moving around will help you not fall asleep at your desk lol. You’ll feel more energetic during the day

I would suggest setting up time throughout the day to go on walks, hit the gym, or maybe do a bit of yoga in your office. Remember that a PhD is a marathon and not a sprint. You need to be able to make it to the finish line and staying active is one way to ensure that.

5) Don’t be afraid to fail

This piece of advice for PhD students is a learning experience that comes with time. At first, you are going to want to be perfect with everything. You want to make sure that all experiments go smoothly all of the time. They won’t lol. In fact, you may not be able to master doing an experiment for months. You are going to fail over and over and over. Do not be afraid of it. Seriously, failure is how you learn and become the best researcher out there. You think that ever good scientist out there just came up with all of their ideas on the first try? Heck no! They had to figure it out through failures. If they were afraid of failure, they wouldn’t have even tried and then we would have missed out on some very essential research.

Advice for PhD Students stay organized

6) Keep organized

I have a huge problem with being unorganized lol. My desk is a mess and I am missing a ton of key data that is somewhere on my computer. Don’t be like me. Stay organized and establish an organization method for files on your computer. This will help you when you go to write a paper. Searching for data that you need and can’t find is extremely frustrating. If you have a lab, keep some organization in there as well. It will help you do experiments and make sure there’s no contamination (contamination = bad results).

7) Find a way to handle stress

You are going to feel more stressed in a PhD program than ever before. You need a way to handle this stress before it causes burnout or hurts your mental health. I have written about how to manage stress (link here). These are great methods to use and I highly suggest you try some of them. Stress in grad school can lead to too many problems and make the whole 4 to 8 years a nightmare. If you can manage stress early, you will succeed in your PhD.

Advice for PhD Students question everything

8) Ask Questions, even if you think they are dumb

Have you ever gone to a class and had a question but didn’t ask because you thought it was too stupid and you should know the answer? Me too. Make sure to ask those questions. It doesn’t matter if it is a dumb question because I guarantee most of the people around you will have the same question. Also, you are going to just have a ton of questions related to what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask them. The answers might really help you overcome a problem that you have. Many months have been wasted because I was afraid to ask questions that were really easy to answer. Now, I ask ever question ever so I can move forward with my research.

9) Take care of your mental health

Seriously, do this. This piece of advice for PhD students is absolutely the most important one. You will experience some weird emotions during grad school. You will feel anxious, sad, happy, lonely, annoyed, and a bunch of other feelings. Make sure to address these and find a way to combat against negative/toxic emotions. If you let anxiety run your life during grad school then you will have a bad time. There is no shame in getting help. Many times, your program will provide therapy for free. I did therapy and I truly believe that it is the reason I am still in grad school. If you want to know my experience with therapy, check out my post about it. Also, if you are still on the fence about therapy in grad school, shoot me an email and we can talk about it.

Advice for PhD Students have fun

10) Have fun

Yes, you are in grad school to train yourself to do good research and science. That doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun along the way. Join a sports league, pick up cool new hobbies, and try out some new things before you become a full time employee and not a student. As I mentioned before, these years will pass quicker than a Florida rainstorm in July (for those not from Florida, the storms are fast lol). Making this time a fun time will be extremely beneficial to your mental health and I guarantee you will look back on grad school and smile. Grad school is a great experience, enjoy it.

Final Thoughts

I hope that you learned a bit from this post. This advice for PhD students is something I wish other’s would have told me when I first started. We need more grad students to blog about their time in grad school. If you have some advice that I should add to this list, please let me know in the comments.

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Should You Do An Internship in Grad School?

It’s internship and job hunting season. I bet you didn’t know there was such as thing. Well in college, there is lol. It usually occurs right after career showcases happen, usually February. Summer is the most popular time to do an internship, so people are trying to secure one before they go on break. Obtaining an internship for the summer can help pay for expenses during the fall semester, and in some cases, pay for classes as well. I have known many individuals that have gotten high paying internships and paid for their tuition just from 3 months of working! So, internships are great to have.

Now, should you get one while in grad school? This can be a tricky question to answer because grad school is much more different than undergrad. First off, grad school covers a very broad range of studies. Grad school includes master’s, MBA, PhD, law degrees, medical degrees, education degrees, and a whole lot of other degrees that I really don’t know much about. In undergrad, it’s mostly dealing with a bachelor’s degree, which most are set up the same way, course work. Grad school can be course work, teaching experience, research based (me), or some other strange teaching method lol. This makes it difficult to find time to do an internship. Sometimes, it can be impossible.

Woman Coding on Computer

Master’s Students

During your master’s, you will probably have summers free. Take full advantage of internships if you are in this position. In fact, I highly suggest getting one to get an understanding of the types of jobs that you may have after college. Master degree holders are very valuable, so finding an internship isn’t as hard as you may think. Also, you can negotiate a higher pay because you are a degree holder already. Do not sell yourself short.

For master’s students, I would suggest looking at companies that you are interested in working at and applying there. This serves many purposes. 1) You will get your foot in the door and can put that on your resume. 2)You will get experience at the company and they will most likely hire you on as a full time employee, with a higher salary than a person just starting. 3) You will get paid over summer and get valuable work experience lol. 4) You can also see if you like the job that you are applying for. If you get an internship and hate working as that position, then you saved yourself a ton of time and can try another position.

Gold and Black Statue of Man Holding Book

Law Students

If you are a law student and wondering if you should get an internship, then you came to the right place. Law students are some of the busiest and overworked individuals that I know. I am dating a lawyer and my current roommate is a law student. One of my best friend’s girlfriend is a law student as well and all of my girlfriend’s friends are lawyers. I am surrounded…Let me tell you, law students make great employees and getting an internship while in law school is imperative. You need the experience of being a lawyer or you’re going to have a hard time after college. Being a lawyer is not like law school. You will need some experience to become a well rounded lawyer when you pass the bar and go work for the big law firms.

Summers are open for you to get an internship wherever you want. My girlfriend had a ton of internships and got a ton of experience before she left college. Summers were spent working for quite a few firms as well as the public defenders office. I believe she had internships during the second year of law school as well. When talking to her, she always stresses that getting these internships were essential to getting a good job.

For those in law school that are deciding whether or not to get an internship, trust me when I say DO IT!!! Get one for summer and make the most of it. Do an internship this summer and next and take the final summer off to study for the bar. I guarantee you will thank me later for pushing you lol.

Free stock photo of art, artistic, arts and crafts

PhD

PhD students spend the whole year ding work. For those doing research, you probably won’t be going and doing an internship, though this isn’t always the case. I have known individuals getting their doctorates that spend their summers at internships, usually somewhere related to their research. This is important because they can use this time as experience for their own research goals and maybe even incorporate it into their thesis. Some research PhDs do internships on the side while working on their own research full time. If you do this, make sure that it is alright with your adviser and doesn’t set you back in graduating.

PhD students that don’t do year round research may definitely do an internship during the summer. This is a common occurrence for individuals that are only paid for 9 months and probably teach to get paid. Internships help to supplement the 3 months out of teaching and help to hone their skills in the field that they are studying. Getting an internship while doing a PhD is very common, though not many people really talk about it, surprisingly.

Final Thoughts

Yes, grad students can do internships. Depending on what you do, you may not have the time to be able to do an internship or you risk setting back graduation. Other times, getting an internship is the best possible thing you can doing while getting a grad degree. It can help you find a job, find what you are passionate about, and even earn you a bit of money. If you are in a position where you can get a internship, I suggest going for it. Get the experience. It is well worth it.

Let me know in the comments if you think it is good or bad to have an internship in grad school. Also, if you have had an internship as a grad student, tell us about your experience. We would love to know more.

Be Thankful Everyday

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thankful

Thanksgiving is here. Honestly, it seemed like last Thanksgiving happened a few weeks ago. These years sure fly by. Today, we give thanks for all that we have in our lives, and launch off model rockets lol. I just want to tell you guys that you don’t need just one day to show thanks or what you have. Be thankful everyday of the year. Here is a list of some of the things I am grateful/thankful for:

1) My friends and family

2) My health

3) My cat, Sirius

4) cookies

5) This blog and all of those reading and commenting

6) My education

7) The motivation I have to finish my doctorate

8) Scootering

9) Model Rocket launches

10) Time away from work

These are just a few of the things that I am thankful for. What are some things that you are thankful for? Let me know in the comments. I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Habits of a Successful Graduate Student

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Surviving grad school can be a tricky thing to do. You will be faced with a significant amount of road blocks in the 2-8 years that you are in school for. Some of these roadblocks are easy to traverse around while others may be a bit more difficult. But, with a few good habits, you can train yourself to take these head on and be quite successful, or at least survive. Here are 8 Habits that I have found quite useful to have when in grad school.

  1. Stay consistent. Stick to a schedule and try and keep that such as getting to the lab every day at 9 am and staying until 5 pm. By having a routine and sticking with it, you will find getting things done way easier. I stick to being in the lab from 8 am to 6 pm. This gives me enough time to get stuff done and doesn’t have me doing extra work in the evening.
  2. Make time for joy. Remember that life is so much more than your work. Why people say differently is so mind boggling. What do you enjoy doing outside of work? Figure that out and do it after your work day is up. Or, doing it during the work day when your experience are running lol. A grad program can be long but that doesn’t mean that your life stops. Finding joy in your life with increase productivity, I guarantee that,
  3. Exercise. I have a ton of blogs on exercising and how it helps. Stay consistent and exercise often. You will be happier, more energetic, and a much better grad student.
  4. Sleep at a reasonable time. Sleep is as important, if not more, than anything on this list. There are many effects that can occur if you do not sleep enough. Read more about it here.
  5. Learn to motivate yourself and don’t wait to be motivated. There is a great video by Therapy in a Nutshell about motivation. I suggest watching it. Here it is.
  6. Make your bed. You have probably seen this all over the internet. It’s true, making your bed is a great habit to have. Here is a great video to watch that is also extremely motivating. I hope it helps.
  7. Stay off social media. Social media is such a distraction, especially when you don’t want to do work. By learning to stay off of it, you will be more productive, and, to be honest, happier. You can get way more done in a shorter amount of time so you can leave and go do things that bring you joy. This is a habit that I am currently trying to get. It is hard but worth it.
  8. Meditate. Mental health is as important or even more important than physical health. Making this a habit can be the difference between finishing your doctorate/ masters or not. Trust me when I say, meditation is a life saver. Read about how to start here.

These are a few habits that I think will help you finish this journey. Grad school is tough, but with help, you can survive and thrive. I hope you already have some of these habits down or you are willing to try and create these habits. I know they will help you significantly. If you are having trouble getting motivated, I highly suggest taking a look at some of the courses at INeedmotivation.com. Here’s a link to those courses.

Learning to Meditate in Grad School. A Guide for Beginners

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So you are stress beyond belief in your studies and you need a way to relax. I guarantee that someone that has noticed your stress has said that you need to exercise and meditate. There’s good reason to bring both of these up because they work. I want to share how I got started with meditation and hopefully it can help you start as well. Here are a 5 pieces of advice will get you started on your journey to enlightenment, or at least stress reduction 🙂

  1. Download the app Headspace. In my last post, I talked about how it is one of the essential apps that I have on my phone. There is a reason for this. I use it everyday to meditate for at least 10 minutes. They have a step by step approach that you will catch on to very quickly. It is a great tool especially when starting off.
  2. Find a quiet place to sit and meditate. Once you have Headspace or if you are using YouTube, Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. This is essential because you need to be as relaxed as you can get. Once you find a place, I recommend sitting or laying down. I find laying down easier, but you are prone to falling asleep, so you can pick whichever way you want to meditate lol.
Meditation, a simple guide for beginners. | by Imed El Mokhtar | Medium

3. Follow the instructions for beginner meditation in Headspace or on YouTube, or really on any meditation app. Here are a few good YouTube meditations that I have used in the past. Meditation 1,2,3,4.

4. Focus on your breathe. This will help to clear out the thoughts that will populate your mind. Focus on your breathe going in and out of your lungs. After a while, you’ll notice that you will go into a very relaxed state. This is where the magic happens. I have experienced all types of weird things at this stage, from colors, to faces popping up, even hearing weird sounds. Just keep in this relaxed state as long as you can.

5. Dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to mediation if you can. I feel that right before lunch is a great time to meditate because after lunch, I know I will fall asleep. Stay consistent and I guarantee you will be a more relaxed person.

Meditation is extremely easy and has amazing benefits. Benefits include:

  1. Reduction of Stress
  2. Anxiety Control
  3. Stronger Emotional Health
  4. Increased Attention Span
  5. Generates Kindness!!!!
  6. Improves Sleep
  7. Reduce Blood Pressure
  8. May Help Control Pain

These are all reasons to start meditation in grad school. You may experience a ton of problems that meditation can help fight against. I took up meditation for anxiety but now I do it to help emotional health. I am a stronger person because of it and way better mentally. If you have any questions about getting started, send an email my way. I can send more information.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

How I Prevent Panic Attacks

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One thing that I, unfortunately, deal with are panic attacks. I can remember my very first one which caused a whole progression of events that led to about 6 months of depression. That panic attack was brought on by pre-workout and way too much stress.

I get panic attacks every so often but they are no where close to the first one I had or the other few that I had prior to therapy. Let me describe to you what it felt like. People often say that it is like having a heart attack. This is 100% true. My heart was racing, I was sweating, my thoughts were going all over the place, and I had the worst anxiety of my life. I honestly thought I was dying, but at the time, I was actually learning a valuable less, how to get help and get healthy. Of course I did was not thinking about that at the moment I was having the attack. In fact, I was having thoughts that were creating more anxiety such as “Will this continue throughout my life? Will I ever recover? Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?” All thoughts that really didn’t help.

I eventually learned that I needed help and that was one of the best things that I ever for my mental health. If you are like me, you do not want to have panic attacks. This is why I want to share a few ways that I reduce the attacks so I don’t have them nearly as bad.

  1. See a therapist

I want to start off with this because taking advice from a stranger online is not the best way to help with the anxiety you are feeling in life. See someone that is a professional and really dive deeper into why this is happening and what can be done to stop it.

2. Give your panic attack a name

Name your panic attack. Tell it that you don’t want it around and that it is not welcomed. This helps for me, though not as much as other methods that I will discuss.

3. Go outside and just breathe.

This is mindfulness and it will help. What I do is put my phone and electronics as far away from me and I go outside and just take a ton of slow, deep breathes. I will immediately feel a reduction in panic.

4. Do Not Try And Control It

By trying to control the panic attack, you can actually make it worse. I did not know this until my therapist as well as many other therapists from books and videos told me this as well. They say that your body will adjust to what is going on and make it seem less bad the next time you have a panic attack. By trying to control it, you can make the next panic attack stronger and you do not want that,

5. If you can, just go on a jog

A quick run or jog usually tires me out. The racing thoughts do go away when you are running so it helps for the moment. It will also tire yourself out so the panic attack may go away quickly. If you have trouble breathing though, do not do this. Some panic attacks will make you hyperventilate so this method of reduction is not advised

6. Go on YouTube and play lofi music. Then think of a place that you feel secure and comfortable.

Picture your “happy place” and stay there for a bit in your mind. Take a moment to really calm down in your happy place. Mine is in a boat, in the Keys. I go there often.

7. Tell yourself “This, too, shall pass”

It is a good mantra to tell yourself. This moment will pass and you will get through it. You will be a stronger person because of it and you will be ready when or if it happens again.

I use these methods when I have panic attacks. Honestly, they aren’t even panic attacks anymore, more like a bit of heightened anxiety that I have learned to cope with. I promise you that you can get through whatever you re going through, but you need a bit of time. Nothing is wrong with you, we all experience this, but sometimes people experience worse panic attacks than others. You can get through this and anything else that is thrown your way. I hope these methods reduce your panic attacks and I hope you get the help you deserve. Have an amazing day.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Writing Your Literature Review

I think one of the most stressful portions of grad school is writing academic papers. You want perfection when all you hear from everyone is “just get it done, it doesn’t have to be perfect.” I hated hearing this because I wanted all of my papers to be perfect., but what even is perfection? That may be another blog post to be honest. This post is about writing a literature review and going in for publication.

I submitted my manuscript to a journal in May, I believe (this year has been weird and my days and months are out of whack). We received comments in June and resubmitted three weeks later. I am waiting to hear back from the editor to see if I will be a published author or not. Hopefully I am.

This blog is about the process of writing such a monster of a paper. I believe I had 65-70 pages at the very end. Probably 30 of those pages were references though. I counted over 200 references when I was finished. Yes, it was a beast and very scary, but you can totally do it and have fun while skimming through articles for hours. Here’s a list of how I went about writing my lit review.

Blank paper with pen and coffee cup on wood table

Ways to make the best Literature Review

1. Create a skeleton

You need a basic outline of what you want to include and where sections will go. Remember, literature reviews are trying to bring as much knowledge about a subject into one paper. It needs to have flow and tell a scientific story. What I mean by this is you want to tell the reader why your future research will be important due to a lack of knowledge in the field you are working on. Also, you want the reader engaged since this is a very long chapter of your dissertation. Having an outline will keep the paper organized, it will help you find specific papers to use, and it will make it engaging to the reader.

2. Just write and don’t go for perfection at first

It is much easier to just write than to think about writing. Writing a literature review is just about getting the words on paper. I often put off writing because I think that I can just do it later when I have motivation. I then spend hours or days thinking about the writing I have to do and it’s torture. Don’t do this, just write. This paper is long and you will need to put in time. It’s way easier to write a little everyday than to cram it in last minute and hope that it makes sense. Plus, your first draft will most likely suck. You will re-write sections multiple times and never be satisfied, but at least you wrote something. My first draft was absolute garbage, not going to lie. My adviser worked with me and we managed to turn something that belonged in a landfill into something that (hopefully) belongs in a journal.

3. Read, read, read

When you have all of your sections outlined, you need to start reading a ton of articles. I mean….A TON! I read about everything from lead poising in children, to quantum entanglement. My research deals with lead so how I ended up reading about quantum physics, I don’t know. But seriously, read as much as you can, and if you can, write a summary of the paper. That will help later on when you are looking for stuff to place in your lit review.

Opened Book on Tree Root

4. Be kind to yourself

Some days I would write1500 words in the span of a few hours. Other days, I would only write 200. This is normal!!! Push yourself to do the best you can but be kind to yourself when you don’t hit the crazy goals that you set for yourself. I promise you that you will finish.

5. Have your adviser review prior to submitting

My adviser had to review my paper since this was my very first manuscript to go in for publication. He added sections, subtracted sections, and rewrote quite a bit. After his revisions, it was time to go in for initial publication.

When submitting to a journal, it is extremely wise to determine if the journal you want to submit to will actually take you paper. I did a ton of research and found a decent one to send my review paper to. I went online and they have a few websites where you can upload your paper and it will give you recommendations on what journals to submit to. This is what I did and it worked fairly well. Once you find the journal, go on their web page and read everything about that journal. Make sure it has a good impact factor since you want more people to see your manuscript as well as cite it in their papers. These factors will help you get noticed and are great CV boosters. Once you submit, sit back and wait. Usually for literature reviews, you’ll get comments back a bit later. The reviewers usually go through the whole paper and read almost every citation you put in. Mine did at least.

Photo Of Person Using Black Laptop

6. Read the comments and reply

My comments were not terrible. The worst part was writing the literature review to be honest. I have heard of people reading the comments from their paper and immediately crying because the reviewers just ripped them apart. This probably won’t happen to you, though. So, read the comments, let them sort of digest and then tackle them head first. I would say a vast majority of the comments were dealing with grammatical errors and addition of some more references. If you do get crazy comments, talk with your adviser about how to address those specifically. Sometimes you may have to just fight the reviewer to keep what you have in the paper.

7. Send the comments back and wait.

This is where I am at in the process. I constantly check the journal website for any hope, but I know I need to be patient. I will update all of you when I find out the outcome. It should be any day.

Final Thoughts

Writing a literature review can be a daunting task but it doen’t have to be. Just follow the above steps and you will be fine. I promise you that. Good luck with your lit review and I hope this somewhat helped. Peace for now

Why I started a Blog

So you might be wondering, “Ben, you are a scientist, not a writer! Why are you blogging?” I’ll tell you why. I am currently in my last year as a grad student and writing has become such an important part of my day that I almost consider myself a writer and not a scientist. I have written paper after paper, hoping to get at least one published. By creating a blog, I am able to hone my writing skills and, hopefully, better convey the science that I am doing.

Writing has been such a great outlet for me as well. I am able to express my emotions through writing and it has helped me significantly drive back anxiety and depression. I put on coffee shop music, sit down, and just write whatever is on my mind. Sometimes, I write scholarly articles/manuscripts. Other times, I just write gibberish and hope that no one sees it. Either way, It has helped to make me feel accomplished as well as helped to keep my attention on something (my attention span is garbage). I have just begun my journey and I hope this leads into something greater. Even if I suck at it, at least I will be proud that I started.

“Dude, sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something”-Jake the Dog

Last one for the night.

I feel like a good place to begin is how I stumbled upon the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. I honestly cannot remember why I was looking for Buddhist teachings, but man was this one of the best things for me. Ajahn Brahm is an amazing monk who has extremely powerful stories that teach kindness, compassion, love, and everything in between. I was probably trying to find videos on how to reduce anxiety to be honest, and found his videos on how to reduce anxiety and live life to the fullest. He has been such an influence in most things that I do and how I think about issues. I am a much more optimistic person now that I follow his teachings. I will post a link below to one of his videos. I’ll write more about how he has helped during grad school as well as other videos that I find extremely helpful. 


 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtq3BQ8da9s&ab_channel=BuddhistSocietyofWesternAustralia