Saturday, October 20, 2007

Lessons learnt over the past one year

I have been a graduate student for around one year. I have learnt a lot of lessons over the past one year, that I wish to document some place and this is that right place:)
The lessons I have learnt are both academic and personal in nature. The lessons learnt are as much about success in life as much about happiness in life. [Note the two are not necessarily correlated].

1) I came here with a great motivation. I wished to do a phd in 3 years, make a mark in the academic community, and ofcourse publish a lot of papers.
2) While I had the desire to work at the level required to attain the goal mentioned in the previous point, I didn't have the perseverance required to do the same. You got to be able to go everyday to the lab and plug in 8 hrs and hope that you get atleast 4 hrs worth of work done. This is something I had to learn the hard way. I was used to work in the bursts, and the bursts occuring as the deadlines approached closeby.
3) I had learnt that research is what you wish to do. Its not what your advisor directs you to do and you just execute the same. No, its more of a process of becoming an independent researcher, needing minimal guidance from your advisor. Its a process where you become more confident in your committment to work, perseverance, dedication to work and skills in time management. Yep, time-management would sum it all up. Drawing up 3-4 goals for the day and executing as many of them as possible is the way.
4) Your advisor is your biggest asset while you are in graduate school. Make sure you are in good, nay really good terms with the advisor, even if you don't think that's required. The academic community is a small world, my dear, and realationships matter here more than in the real world(read: jobs, personal life, etc).
5) When in doubt, be honest and when in doubt again, be nice to people. Being nice is the first thing people expect from you and its easier to get around with that attitude.
6) Honesty is the best policy is something I learnt while I was a kid in school. I am relearning the same through my experiences in life.
7) There are several aspects to our personality: The physical, intellectual, mental, psychological, emotional, etc. It is not good at all to neglect any one part of your personality. When you are hitting rock bottom, your way out is made easier if the aspects of your personality are well balanced. Infact, you wouldn't hit rock bottom unless there is an imbalance in your personality.
8) Be modest. It doesn't matter who you are or where you come from. Every single human being, however wretched or however great deserves the same amount of respect and that includes yourself too.
9) Work hard. There is nothing like hard work to get you out of a 'seemingly murky' situation.
10) State of mind: Your state of mind should be equanimous, especially when things are not going well for you. It removes the perception of negativity from the so called 'bad experiences'.
11) Meditate: Take time to meditate everyday, bring a sense of steadiness to your life.