Blogs: Fear and Failure

Schrödinger’s Graduate Student

The paths to success in graduate school are as arbitrary as the goal itself

MAR 2020
Four years into graduate school, I still struggle with a simple question: what makes a successful graduate student? I don’t mean the end product of a student with a flashy C.V., a long list of publications, or a dream job. Instead, I wonder: what does a successful graduate student look like in...

Practice Imagination in MIT Hogwarts

Where empathy and compassion are the real magic

MAR 2020
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
In J.K. Rowling’s commencement speech at Harvard, she talked about the importance of imagination. I was really struck by her definition of imagination - how she described it as people “thinking themselves into...

I Want to Be a Ballerina When I Grow Up

Don’t let your dreams die in grad school

MAR 2020
It was an average Wednesday. I rolled out of bed at 7:30AM, turned on Spotify’s “Monday Motivation” playlist and tried to let the cheerful pop seep into my bones.  Everything’s looking up now! How could you not believe him when he sings so convincingly? I swayed to the music as my routine swung me...

How to Cordially Interrogate Graduate Students

The art of finding a lab

MAR 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
This semester, I have had a ton of practice interrogating graduate students. During orientation, I was immediately given the task of rotating in various labs to find my lab home. Our advisors instructed us to reach out to professors who caught our interest, find out if they are looking for PhD...

Finding UberGirl

An emotional lyft

FEB 2020
Materials Science and Engineering
I hate Uber. I hate that people love it because it’s convenient. I hate that people think it’s better for the environment than owning a car. I hate that people think it’s a good way for people to earn a living. I hate cars and I hate making excuses to keep them around. I grew up in Texas. All we...

Controlling Chaos

Learning to love my calendar

FEB 2020
Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology
“Hey, you ready for the call in five?” The what? With who? Did I have to prep for this? When did we decide to schedule a call? What are we even talking about? Maybe I’ve just been getting old, but I never had a problem remembering all my commitments before graduate school. Or maybe I never had to...

Taking Engineering Too Far

Food, weight, and body image in grad school

FEB 2020
Materials Science and Engineering
This post is part of a special issue: "Mental Health Matters: Asking for Help & Reaching Out". I can't remember a time in my life when I wasn't trying to lose weight. When I'm sitting in my office and can't focus on my work...

Overcoming Anxiety

How my first year of graduate school pushed me to reach out for help

FEB 2020
MIT-WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography / Applied Ocean Science and Engineering
This post is part of a special issue: "Mental Health Matters: Asking for Help & Reaching Out". Hey there! I’m Jessica, a current 3rd year graduate student and PhD candidate, and I have anxiety. I choose to say this in the...

If Something Feels Wrong, Speak Up

How I used my story to advocate for grad students

FEB 2020
This post is part of a special issue: "Mental Health Matters: Asking for Help & Reaching Out". My first year of grad school at MIT was no piece of cake. I struggled to understand what was going on in lab, classes felt like...

The Dizzying Cost of Life Science Research

If sticker shock is freaking you out, you’re not alone

DEC 2019
Biological Engineering
Where were you when you bought the most expensive thing you’ve ever purchased? I was definitely in lab. In life science, you can spend a staggering amount of the lab’s money on tiny tubes of liquid. As a small, delicate, expensive thing, purchasing a tiny tube of liquid feels a bit like buying...