The long anticipated day has finally arrived: the “Match Day” that could have been. Once medical students choose their specialty at the beginning of their fourth year, they apply to residency programs in that specialty. The application process is relatively similar to the typical medical/graduate school application processes
The last time I sat down to write this column, I was in the midst of the most tumultuous period of my adult life to date. I had openly admitted to my advisor that I desperately wanted to quit my job
In my worst moments, when I was feeling like I had made no progress in my thesis work and that my advisor had lost all faith in me, I would read self-help articles. It felt a little pathetic, but at the same time, they gave me a reason to hold on. “Learn to accept failure,” the gurus-turned-authors would tell me. I could take control and use my feelings of defeat and frustration to work harder
“Publish or perish” is the old axiom that is heard in the research realm. As a graduate student, the emphasis on publications as a metric of success is often difficult to come to terms with (particularly when you have hit a roadblock in your project, with no foreseeable hope for forward progress). Further, the strong emphasis of “first-author” publications makes this metric even more unappealing
Like many undergraduate students, my plans and ideas for my career trajectory evolved over time. As I have written about before, I went back and forth during college about whether to pursue an M.D.-only or M.D./Ph.D. degree. No matter where I fell on that spectrum during that time, I talked to a variety of graduate students in the lab I worked in about their experiences as Ph.D. students. One of the major lessons that I learned from this was to hedge my bets to graduate in a reasonable amount of time by working on multiple projects at once, particularly during the first two years of graduate school.
The start of my second year of graduate school has brought some refreshing changes. I no longer walk into lab any more with the paralyzing fear that I do not know anything or know how to do anything. Now, I at least vaguely know some of the lab’s techniques, I know where to find most supplies, and I can usually follow along for a good portion of my colleague’s presentations at lab meeting. All of these things are great accomplishments in hindsight after thinking about where I was a year ago.
Most children have probably heard the classic fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. A young girl with golden hair wanders into the empty house of three different bears—one small, one large, and one sized in-between. She comes upon a table with three bowls of cooling porridge, and upon sampling each one, discovers successively that the first is too hot, the second too cold, and the third just right. She eats all of the porridge in the third bowl. The same happens when she comes upon three chairs, and finally, three beds. The third item in the series always proves to be the most comfortable, as the intermediate option between two extremes, but more meaningfully, Goldilocks always judges it to be “just right.”