Wednesday, August 20, 2014

DFPM: Plotted Course

Dear Future Professor Me,

This might be hard for you to hear, but a lot of the students that traipse through your office will have NO idea what they want in life. Not everyone plots their lives out to minute detail. You, who plan every moment of your life down to exact details, are a wierdo. Be sure to remember that there will be those who start in your lab simply to avoid the workplace. There might be those in your lab that start with the greatest of intentions and then priorities change. And there will probably be the handful of weirdos exactly like you. Regardless, be mindful of where each student is at, where they are coming from, what pressures might come into play in their lives when you are interacting with them.

Right now, you've kept your eyes open. You've watched how faculty have treated the various grad students, both you and the others. Remember the understanding you've seen, remember the frustration. The trick, to these lowly grad student eyes, seems to lie in finding the balance between understanding their situation and pushing them forward. And that line appears to be different for each student.

You were a pretty smart grad student, if I do say so myself, who had a plan. You knew why you were here, what you wanted to accomplish, where you were going. That has always been your M.O. and you have never done well with plans being interrupted. Plotted courses are great, but when the storms come course corrections might have to be made. Be ready to navigate different plots for different students! Meet them where they are at, not where you are or have been.

Sincerely,
Lowly Grad Student Me

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