In this issue

How to hit the ground running for the new semester

Following these tips can help you have a successful semester.

By Elizabeth Handing and Nelson Roque
Top Priority: Advisor/Mentor/Committee Meeting Planning

Every semester, your advisor and committee members will most likely have different time commitments (e.g., new grants, teaching new courses, advising incoming graduate students, etc.), and it is important to be on the same page in terms of the frequency and flexibility of your meetings. Planning weekly or monthly meetings will ensure you keep your projects moving forward while creating the opportunity for new ideas to come about. Set goals and expectations together at the beginning of the semester so that you have a clear plan for the semester ahead.

Do You Have Research Assistants?

If your lab has research assistants (RAs), you have probably encountered a situation when your “final schedule” changes upon receiving a last-minute email. Some labs ask if their RAs anticipate any schedule changes (e.g., job commitments, dropping or adding a new course) to make a couple different versions of the schedule.

Automating the Onboarding Process for the New Semester

With resources like WhenIsGood, you can take the hassle out of going back and forth through email to schedule your meetings. Gathering applications for new research assistants could be just as simple using Google Forms, a free service to collect form data directly into an Excel-exportable spreadsheet. Sharing it with other members of your lab is also a breeze.

What Do You Expect From Your Lab?

Knowledge from previous semesters can help you draft a sheet of expectations for your lab, ensuring everyone knows what is expected of them. This can help to avoid confusion as well as having something for everyone to reference. Whether or not you choose to collect signatures for this expectation sheet is up to you, but these expectations should be voiced early in the semester.

Plan Semester Coursework, Along with All Deadlines

At the beginning of the semester, plan out your coursework and research due dates. It's a good idea to start with the end task and then work backwards. For example, if you want to submit a manuscript by Dec. 1, make several small goals before then to ensure you stick with the plan. Other important dates to plan ahead for are IRB expiration dates, conference submission deadlines, grant due dates, journal deadlines and organizational deadlines.

Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

To not feel overwhelmed as a graduate student, it's ideal to make a schedule and stick with it. Your progress is dependent upon your ability to use your time efficiently and effectively. You are your own secretary. Along with your detailed school calendar, schedule time for you. Plan time for fun activities, socializing and taking care of yourself. Friends and family may not realize how demanding school can be, but it's important to have a support system to help you through the highs and lows of graduate school. Celebrate the small successes and keep moving forward.

Update Professional Social Media

When was the last time you updated your CV? Do you have a LinkedIn account? Is it accurate? Your CV and professional resume should always be in a place that you can easily access. Keep these documents updated by editing them monthly. If you are on the job market be sure that any online information is accurate because employers will use this information to create an impression of you. Be sure it's professional, accurate and up to date.

We hope these tips can help you have a successful semester ahead.