Sunday, April 18, 2010

The procrastination post

I should be working on my thesis defense presentation right now. But I'd rather procrastinate! Like I have all weekend! Story of graduate school!

With luck, I'll be graduating next month. In less than a month, actually. I wish I had given this blog more love during my endeavors here, but I haven't given up yet. Maybe the shiny new job I'll be starting in July will give me more time to reflect on technology and the world. I hope so, anyway. I'll still be considering myself a technologist in progress, just... beyond grad school.

Grad school has been an interesting juxtaposition of college and the real world. You're doing research for the real world, dealing with real world companies and people, but there are still awesome bars within walking distance and you can come home in the middle of the day to take naps. It's made for a great (and at times incredibly depressing) experience. Would I do it again? Yes, though not in a heartbeat. It's said that grad school is the last form of legalized slavery. I don't know if I'd agree with that statement a full 100%, but at least 75%.

Things I've learned so far:

1. If you can get a cushy teaching job, go for it. My juniors and seniors were sometimes the best parts of my week.
2. If you can get a cushy research job, go for it. The flexibility in hours was worth the inevitably poorly timed hassle of work you really, really hate doing.
3. Secretaries literally do run the world, so make friends with them. Seriously.
4. Deadlines are always a little flexible.
5. Form friendships that will last a lifetime, even if it's only with one or two other people. You need these deep friendships to survive grad school in the first place. Preferably, make sure one of these people is in your lab working under the same people as you are - believe me, it will save your sanity.
6. Save as much money as you can all the time. Grad school has no retirement benefits, so you need to start saving now. Open that Roth IRA yesterday!
7. Drink on a Wednesday night because you don't have to be up till 12 or 2PM the next day. It'll probably be the last time in your whole life you can do this, possibly even the first, so please enjoy it.
8. Don't procrastinate TOO much... you shouldn't be rushing through graduate school but don't take more 2 years for a master's and an additional 3 for a PhD. The longer you wait to graduate, the harder and harder it will be to actually DO the stuff you need to do to graduate. Being an eternal student seems fun but if you're still making 30k/yr in something technical while you're getting your PhD after 5 years, you should reevaluate.

.... Yeah, I should probably keep working on that presentation. Sigh. More later.