Dear Pre-Grad School Me

I don’t have a lot of regrets. My choices have made me who I am today. However, knowing some of the things I know now would have helped me earlier in life. If I could get a letter to myself at any point, it would be as I was applying and going to grad school. So, if a time machine is ever invented, I would request that the inventor take the letter below to me during my Junior year of college.

Dear Pre-Grad School Me:

  • Get a real assistantship. You can find assistantships on job search sites for the local universities (I know you don’t know this yet). If you don’t know what something is ask a faculty member. Try at least two assistantships. Ask questions, gain diverse experiences, talk to as many people as possible.
  • Don’t rush through the program. Yes, grad school is expensive, but learning takes time.
  • Find a balance. It’s so important to find a balance between classes and life. The habits you pick up during grad school will continue in your work and life, regardless of if you’re working in a professional capacity.
  • Don’t pick up a full time job. It’s so precious and it seems like a huge light at the end of the tunnel. Don’t do it. That experience wasn’t worth it. Keep the assistantship options open.
  • Go to events. All of them. Working and making money will happen, networking and meeting people is only offered for a limited amount of time. Use all of the resources available, there might not be many, but use them.
  • The grant writing course was a good idea. Do it again.
  • Challenge your classmates. You have a critical thinking background, use it. The smart classmates will participate and the faculty seemed to appreciate it.
  • Use the librarian. Searching endlessly in databases is stupid and a waste of time. Ask for help, and if you don’t know what to ask, talk to your faculty. Don’t waste time being stupid and self-conscious.
  • Get help for your resume. Lots of help. Look at as many resumes as you can. Send it out to as many people as you can. Ask in interviews what they think of it. Improve it and improve it.
  • Cover letters are stupid. You get to write cover letters for other people and they land jobs. You edit other resumes and they land jobs. You will rarely get an interview and your cover letters may or may not ever matter. They are stupid. Write them anyway. Spend as much time on them as possible. Don’t send out a job application after 8pm (your brain stops working after 8).
  • Ask for help.


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