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On the importance of having “work friends” outside of work (and a little bit about the 3MT)

3MT, or the Three Minute Thesis is back again at Queen’s! I had the privilege of competing in 3MT back in its first year here at Queen’s. It was an amazing experience that really got me thinking about my research and how I can make it accessible to those outside my field and the general public. It was also a great way to work on my “elevator speech” in the sense that it made me think about my giant (and I mean giant) thesis and how I can condense that into just a three minute spiel. The deadline to register was extended to this Friday March 6 and the heats are taking place on Tuesday March 10th starting at 1PM and Thursday March 12th starting at 1PM.  I encourage everyone to register! You can find more details here!

Now down to business!

March marks a busy month for all with marking, conference preparations, committee meetings, field season preparations and more. March also hopefully marks the end of what might be the coldest month of our lives here in Ontario. Most importantly though, March marks the beginning of our work/life balance post series here at Gradifying and I am thrilled to get us started today!

When I started grad school, I will admit that I didn’t spend much time with fellow grad students or colleagues outside of work. I spent all day with these people, why would I go out once work is over, and talk about work????That doesn’t sound like very good work/life balance to me!! It took me awhile but throughout my time in grad school, but I have learned that this is one of the myths of work/balance and that time spent with co-workers outside of work is seriously valuable and  can also very important for your sense of work/life balance. Now, just a few years later, I can’t imagine Friday nights spent any other way than surrounding the dirty old pool table at the grad club with my fellow Biology grad students. So just what have I learned?

1) You get to know your colleagues on a totally different level than you did before. You understand what their lives outside of work. Do they have kids? Did their dog just have puppies? What kind of commitments do they have when they aren’t in the office? You learn a lot about them, who they are and how they balance their lives with work. It gives insight into your own life but it also helps you understand other people’s lives and not only put faces to names, but more meaning to names too.

2) You learn what people in your department do. Working on a tough analysis that you’ve never done – perhaps someone else has done it before? Maybe a colleague is in search of a special piece of equipment – and maybe you have one they could borrow? It may sound a bit selfish, but getting to know your colleagues can really be advantageous, and hey – if you scratch my back, I might scratch yours when you need it too!

3) You develop relationships with people that “get it”. Your colleagues know better than anyone else the challenges and hardships of grad school. Whether it’s frustration about a paper getting rejected, a problem with an analysis, or just frustration in general, your fellow grad students get it. As supportive as family, significant others, or friends outside of school can be, it’s always nice to know that you can talk to people who are going through the exact same thing.

4) Most importantly this is a break from work. A break from sitting at a desk, a break from crunching numbers, changing wording, just a break from routine and that is one of the most important pieces of advice for finishing grad school. Take breaks. You can’t work all the time!

Posted in General, New Students, Staying Well, Student Perspective, Thesis Tagged with:
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  1. […] a rigorous compartmentalization, as Jeremy has written, and affirming your personal connections, as Amanda has written – and they unquestionably are – then another part of it is taking some time, even though you […]

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