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On surviving a PhD

Having struggled through the PhD process myself (I wish I could say that it was a smooth ride, but it wasn’t), and obtaining the degree, I have taken it upon myself to ensure that my own PhD students (and other faculty members’) don’t ever suffer the things I did. I have spent a substantial amount of time mentoring PhD students, even those who are not my own, simply because I had mentorship and I believe I should pay it forward too.

Though I don’t want to make it like everything was a struggle (I had a fantastic, intellectually stimulating and human PhD supervisor), I did face challenges, and I survived them. Not small challenges, mind you. But here I am, on a tenure-track assistant professor position, having a grand time.

I cannot write a recipe for PhD success because what worked for me may not have worked for someone else, but there is one thing (and I mentioned it on Twitter, again one of my most retweeted and favorited tweets) that I encourage PhD students to do is to maintain hope. Regardless of whether they choose to complete the degree (an entirely personal choice – I saw many friends of mine quit their PhDs, some of them in fact several years into the PhD with a substantial part of thesis draft already written), I cannot say that I believe giving up hope is an option.

Stay strong out there, PhD students. And if there is anything I can do to help, feel free to reach out.

graduate students do not lose hope

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