I Learned Things This Year

I have now officially completed my first year of doctoral work. Hooray! I am currently staring into the wide abyss of my second year.  This is as good as any time to pause and reflect on all the successes, missteps, and surprises I encountered during my first year. Entering my second year, I feel slightly more confident in my research, public speaking, and general intellectual capabilities. Note the slightly. Perfectionism is a difficult obstacle to overcome.

Successes:

  • I made it through one year’s worth of coursework. This is both a success and surprise!
  • My writing skills are improving, especially after completing the doctoral seminar on Research Methods. The massive amount of writing that this course required will either make or break your writing confidence. It seemed that way for me anyway.
  • I completed my first entirely-written-with-publication-in-mind article as of last Tuesday! I can’t wait to submit it for publication in the very near future (like next month). My future publication track is moving along very smoothly. Two more written articles that need some minor edits, then ready for submission.
  • I’m improving my public speaking abilities. This is another success and surprise! It wasn’t until the beginning of the summer semester that I felt comfortable enough to join in on group discussions and speak up during class. Apparently, it takes 13 years of K-12, 4 years of undergrad, 2 years of grad school, and 1 year of doctoral work for me to speak in class willingly.
  • I have darn good time management skills. The importance of this skill was made very clear to me during Fall semester when the work was so overwhelming. The only way I survived was by carefully designing a work plan for every assignment, TA duty, and meeting.

Missteps:

  • I am not as tech savvy as I thought. After troubleshooting computer problems and other tech issues for six years in the public library, I thought I could do techie stuff. I was wrong. After talking with other doc students about computery stuff (See. That word doesn’t sound very tech savvy), I found out that these people know so much more than I do about the nitty-gritty technical world. They can speak a language that I am very confused by.
  • I need to learn that I am only one person and I can only do so much. Stress management is an area in which I could use additional tutoring or hand holding.
  • Much like stress management, assertiveness is a skill that I lack. At my former workplace, it’s necessary to be assertive, even aggressive. This is especially true when you’re dealing with funding, politics, or public support. It’s also true in academia. I’m not a naturally assertive person. I envy those who are. So this will be my next project: Be more assertive!
  • Initially, I used the word ‘failures’ instead of ‘missteps’ for this section. Probably a misstep in its own way. Obligatory quote on failure: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett

Surprises:

  • Apparently, I’m good at SPSS and statistics. Excelling in this area is more than a surprise to me. Frankly, it is astonishing. I was quite pleased when I walked out with a good grade. There may have been a happy dance involved…..
  • I love to write! I’ve never considered myself a “writer”. I’ve always been a compulsive reader, but writing was never something I’ve had much of an interest in pursuing.  After everything I slaved over this year, I’m looking forward to slaving over some more. (When I stack all my research papers up together, it forms an impressive pile!)
  • I’m surrounded by a group of very supportive and motivating doc students, colleagues, and committee members.  I’m not sure if this is the norm in other doctoral programs, but I’m very grateful that I have it.

What successes, missteps, and/or surprises did you experience last academic year (or normal world year)?

What does the next academic year look like for you?

lots of academic words

lots of academic words

Summertime Blues

Ugh. It’s been almost a month since my last post. The end of the semester was brutal. But now it’s “break” and I can get back to the important things in life – writing, napping, coffee drinking, and reading. I put break in quotation marks because break really means catching up with all the work I couldn’t finish during the summer session. But this work is my fun work! Writing about my real research interests like cyberbullying, doctoral life, and rural libraries. Frantic writing and poster creating and fall semester prep, oh boy!

me sometimes

me sometimes

All the madness and stress of the summer semester made me curious about how other doctoral students and academics deal with stress, especially the overwhelming variety. Since I began the doctoral program, I’ve experienced an intensity of stress that I never have before. I’m not sure how it’s different or why it feels so intense, but it does. It seems as if the internal and external pressure on my time, sanity, and energy has been steadily increasing since last August. I heard a rumor that it only gets worse after becoming a Doctoral Candidate. But I’m willing to accept that challenge.

Yet, stress can be a good thing in moderation. It can motivate us to accomplish great things, take risks, and excel far beyond we thought we could. My coping mechanism for stress has always been exercise and obsessive worrying. Only one of those is healthy. Without exercise I have no idea where I would be right now. I wonder how other doctoral students and academics (and non-academics who read this blog! who are you?) manage stress. How stressed are you? How successful do you feel you are at stress management? Do you believe that the stress you experience is mostly good or bad?

P.S. I have so much fun stuff that I’m working on right now! Publication ahoy!

  • almost finished with my cyberbullying lit review (so close, so close…..)
  • editing a case study on rural libraries and marketing I wrote during my MLIS for publication
  • editing a LIS education and leadership lit review I wrote for the doctoral seminar this summer for publication
  • upcoming guest blog post on the Hack Library School blog (September 3!)
  • TAing my first F2F undergraduate course this Fall