Graduated AF: Summer Edition

I really don’t need to tell y’all how easy it is to sink down into the murky swamp of grad school. How many times have you sighed and resigned yourself with that well worn “Well, I’ll get to [enter cool/useful shit here] after [enter giant pile of stress and obligations]”? If I had a puppy for every statement I made over the past two years that ended in “…after quals are done.” then I’d give up blogging/grad school and be a full time puppy snuggler (I’m really good at hypotheticals). I acknowledge that Summertime as an academic can entail a wide variety of busyness levels, but for many of us it’s time to catch up and take control of our lives and routines. If nothing else, there are less meetings to be had, which makes a huge difference.

Stick with us, we’ll be  your guides!

Rachel and I have compiled a (non-exhaustive) list of #AcademicSummer To-Do items that will help you make the most of your life while rocking out your field season, internship, research, etc.

  1. Update Software on your Computer – If you’ve ever, like me, foolishly updated some software on an evening before an assignment is due and then gotten trapped in some new hell where your code won’t compile anymore…well then you know why I wait until updating certain things!
    1. R
    2. RStudio
    3. Sublime Text (my preferred  text editor for LaTeX and Python)
    4. (i)OS or Windows (the newest one actually isn’t horrible)
    5. Defragment computer
  2. Find out what other grad students are around and organize some get together – Any grad student knows that summertime in a college town is The Best. It’s great to have time to host dinners and soccer viewing parties (Deutschland!) with some buds.

    Now that quals are over, we’re free to enjoy life outside!
  3. Clean out your desk and bag(s) – I am a paper hoarder. Scrap paper. Old homework. Notes scribbled. Practice problems. All. Of. It. But If I don’t get through and purge my spaces a few times a year then I am going to end up buried in paper by the time I defend. (#PhDBy33!) I just got a new (better!) desk and  I am only allowing myself one drawer for scrap paper.
    1. Backpack/computer bag

      My new desk is now decorated with my decorations.
    2. Field bag
    3. Vehicle
    4. Purse (aka my glorified lipstick/pencil case)
    5. Closets *gulp* – Think camping gear, clothes you haven’t worn in a year, etc.
  4. Set some summer goals for your extra time – You can check out our Summer Bucket List post for our full ideas and comments! Here are some more academically leaning ideas:
    1. Learn a new programing language
    2. Read some extra papers (outside!)
    3. Organize your lab samples
  5. Get a head start on fall. – For me this means furthering my imminent political takeover of my department’s graduate student association and recruiting willing(ish) accomplices. What does this actually entail? Probably sending out an email about our fridge needing to be cleaned and organizing events for both new students orientation and a practice party for the big statistical conference coming up in August (aka a great reason to ask the department for pizza). What else could it mean?
    1. Figure out your course schedule (aka what the other cool kids are taking)
    2. Write extra blog posts now (or guest blog posts for your favorite blogging duo!)
    3. Touch base with folks you will be collaborating with in the fall
  6. Start writing your next publication – Don’t wait! Get something, anything started on your next publication. Likely you could be writing parts of the introduction and methods sections even if you aren’t anywhere close to finishing your analysis. We understand that writing every day is super tough (it is for us too!) but there’s no time like the present!
    1. Set a time (at least 30 minutes) to do something related to writing every week day!
    2. Touch base with your collaborators
    3. Data. Entry.
  7. Get your code organized – This of course may not apply to everyone, but coding is like 90% of my research life. And I am trying my hardest to keep things organized, because I have a very clear picture of Future Meridith in my head cursing my very existence as she tries to make sense of what the heck Current Meridith was doing with her code. Some of my favorite advice my advisor has given me was to make sure your code will be understandable in the future by everyone, but especially future you.
    1. Clear, descriptive comments!
    2. R packages and functions
    3. GitHub Flow
    4. Overleaf – essentially GDoc for LaTeX
  8. Get ready for your next conference – I love conferences. This year will be my second Joint Statistical Meeting and my first time presenting a statistical presentation (rather than ecological), so I’m one part hella nervous, and two parts excited AF. I’m actually getting a dedicated Stitch Fix box next week and I’ve requested items I can wear around Chicago and the conference. Keep an eye on our instagram for a peek into what they send and then may try it out for yourself! Other things to consider:
    1. Alternative travel plans – I’m pretty sure my entire lab is rocking the overnight Megabus to Chicago! Rachel took the train took the train to her last conference.
    2. Print business cards
    3. Spruce up your website (ours are here and here)
    4. Update your CV (you can check out Meridith’s for reference here)
    5. [Note from a former speech and debate nerd (Rachel)] – please, for the love of God, practice your talk or poster.  Practice it in front of people. It does not count as practice to mumble it yourself sitting at your computer. You, and your future audience, will thank you.   

      These crack me up at conferences. Send me photos of other silly ones in the wild!
  9. Check out social media – This is one of those ‘possibly-too-overwhelming-during-the-semester-but-it’s-totally-OK-to-try-now-as-summer-procrastination’ items. We obs love social media (insert shameless plug for our tumblr, instagram, other instagram, other other instagram, and twitter). Yes they can be a bottomless pit of procrastination, but I’ve actually found a lot of great discussions happening on Twitter and Tumblr. The progressive youths of Tumblr actually give me a lot of hope for the future of this nation.
    1. Twitter lists for people in your field (e.g. for statisticians and scientists)
    2. Tumblr
    3. Conference hashtags (e.g. #JSM2016 and #ESA2016)  – this is one of my preferred way to find new people to follow!
    4. Make a facebook group for your department grad students
  10. Forward your school mail to your Google mail and set it up so you can email from your .edu through Gmail – Full disclosure, for me this means asking my way more computer-savvy BF to do this for me. I’d ask him to teach me, but…he’s pretty good at it and super cute so I think I’ll be keeping him handy long past when I’ll need to do all of this again when PSU makes me reset my passwords.

We’ll be posting our own progress on instagram and Tumblr with the hashtag #GraduatedAF. Be sure and share how your summer is going with us as well!



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