Monday, 4 May 2015

THE FIRST-YEAR SURVIVAL MANUAL

THE GRAD SCHOOL GUIDE

BY: JENNY FORD

A year ago I was anxiously anticipating my foray into Museum Studies. I had been out of the academic world for two years and had never really pictured myself as a grad student. Needless to say I was terrified. Like all first-time grad students, I’ve adjusted and learned a lot over the past year. Below is some of the best advice I've acquired to survive my first year in the Master of Museum Studies world.

1. YOUR FIRST ASSIGNMENT WILL BE YOUR WORST

Lower your expectations. Gif.

There were a lot of high hopes for my first assignment. I worked on it for weeks, sat down with my prof twice, and even cried over it a little. Despite my wayward efforts, I only managed to barely pass. My assignments afterwards have been stellar, thankfully, but I needed that first "test" assignment to figure out the program's expectations and get back into the academic groove. The same was true for most of my fellow students. We just needed to test the MMSt waters first.

2. DON'T WORK HARDER, WORK SMARTER

Am I the only one who can work and drink at the same time? Mad Men gif.

My weeks were pretty packed during my first semester. Going to class, reading stacks of articles, writing essays, and visiting museums took up every second of my day. I wasted a lot of time trying to do everything. I thus learned to be a more efficient grad student. I applied readings in one class to papers I was writing in another, for instance A lot of assignments also required visiting different museums. I learned to "double-up" on institutions, visiting one museum to complete multiple assignments.

3. LEAVE THE MUSEUM ONCE IN A WHILE



Yes, we all belong in museums. We eat, breathe, and dream about museums. So much so, I sometimes felt that the real world got a bit hazy.  It was difficult, but I made a point of doing non-museum things during my free time to avoid early burn out. I cooked a lot, explored the city, sat in cafes, and even joined a rock climbing gym. Leaving the museum also gave me perspective on what I'd learned and where I was going.

4. ASK EVERYONE FOR ADVICE


You will meet a lot of really cool people during this program. From your fellow students, to veteran museum professionals, everyone has valuable advice and connections to offer. Remember to stop, listen and take mental notes. Most museum professionals are very willing to talk about their experiences. I've approached some of them for informational interviews, sitting down to disucss their careers and advice for success in the museum world. These connections have been invaluable in charting my future career path and even my internship.

5. THE IMPOSTER SYNDROME IS REAL



Believe it or not, the "imposter syndrome" is very common amongst new grad students. This is an unfounded belief that the admissions department has made a colossal mistake and that you were admitted into grad school by accident. Everyone around you appears to be infinitely more qualified. The imposter syndrome is very real and affected most of my fellow students, including myself. It can be quite disconcerting during the first few weeks. This feeling of inferiority, I assure you, is unfounded. It will pass. You are brilliant. And you are here for a reason.

Robyn and Barney touch museum objects.

ANY ADVICE TO ADD OR QUESTIONS TO ASK? POST IT IN THE COMMENTS!

FOLLOW THE GRAD SCHOOL GUIDE THIS SUMMER FOR MORE NEW STUDENT TIPS.

1 comment:

  1. Props to Cameron Crawley for survival tip #2! Learned from the best.

    ReplyDelete