Oh, what a semester! I would like to thank Dr.Lee for making this semester great for us. I also would like to thank you all for sharing your thoughts and concerns on your blog posts and comments. I really enjoyed this class! I hope one day we will see each other in the classrooms. This was my last required class for my P.h.D. and Future Professoriate Certificate.
I was thinking about what else to leave in this blog post. Definitely not COVID-19 updates, and frustration while we are at the end of this semester. I am enjoying my experience with my research lab and my adviser even during this difficult time we are facing. Then, I thought of how difficult it was for me to find my space in this great research group. So I wanted to search what is recommended online to find your academic adviser.
To start with my own experience, I did not have a good experience in that I had to sacrifice some of my academic years and also research. However, it was worth it to end up in my current group. I am leaving my adviser’s TEDx talk to give you an idea of what my group works on and there is more indeed.
My adviser’s name is Dr.Pablo Tarazaga. I call him “my academic healer.” When I met him I was feeling I was stuck under a collapsed building and each of the concrete blocks I was feeling on me was the unfortunate experiences I had had in my previous research group. What was my mistake with this experience? I did self-criticize. I was coming from another country that has a different educational culture. I did not have any experience in graduate school either in my home country or states. When I was applying for graduate programs in different schools, I was so stressed with getting accepted. I was trying to convince the graduate schools with my TOEFL and GRA scores that were meeting the requirements. I did not even think about how I should find my adviser which is the key point of the graduate programs. I admitted that I was TOO RECKLESS.
So now I assume that I am a prospective student and what should I do when I look for graduate programs and prospective adviser.
- Read the graduate program policy. For Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech is : me.vt.edu/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/2019-2020_MEDept_GraduateProgramsPolicy_Oct2019-.pdf. I was only checking the graduate school websites and the department websites before I applied and I was not really aware of what the policy of the department for the graduate program. I did not know I have a chance to find my adviser after I enroll in the program. I forced myself to find an adviser prior to my first semester started. Lack of information made me stick with one prospective adviser and I thought I can not change my adviser and I have to deal with the issues rather than looking up other options.
I searched for some guidelines for how to choose your academic supervisor on google and there are many articles provided by several universities and professionals. One of the articles I really like to enjoy reading was written by Matthew Killeya on https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg19726442-500-the-phd-journey-how-to-choose-a-good-supervisor/
On his article, his key points are as follows a supervisor should
- shared similar interests
- challenge you sometimes
- excite you
- have personal chemistry with you
He also recommends
- explore your options
- be unique
- give as much as you take
I wish I read at least one article like this before I chose my first adviser. I was like Yaayyyyy! I got accepted. I have this professor who helped me during the acceptance process so I can get along with him no matter what. It did not work that way though. I learned with experiencing how important to have similar interests with your adviser. I was not able to find healthy communication. People are very different from various backgrounds and you need to make sure they are matching with yours.
Explore your options is the key for me that could lead me to success from the beginning. You need to make sure you meet people you will work with. Mostly we spend more time in our working environment and while we work we also socialize with people in our work environment.
Currently, I am in the best group I could be in. I feel lucky and I appreciate every support I receive from my colleagues. When you are in a healthy environment you think healthy and it leads you to success.