I have successfully defended my PhD thesis “Explaining Interspecific Variation in Susceptibility and Resistance to Parasitism in Damselflies”! My program took me 4 years and 3 months to complete; it was worth every minute. My defense was difficult, I could have done so much better and I know it, but I did my best. Going into the defense I felt theoretically and practically ready, I was just too nervous. But even through my nerves, my examining committee saw that I knew my stuff. I’m glad they did.
Because I’m very fresh out of graduate school, so I thought I’d highlight a couple keys points that I noticed every one of my graduate student friends/colleagues have.
First, patience and perseverance! For the students thinking about graduate school, it is a slow process with lots of highs and quite a few lows. You have to be able to persevere! You will persevere if you like what you’re doing and if you are passionate about what you are studying.
Second, a hobby! This one may surprise you considering that graduate studies are so time consuming that they take up most of your time and are pretty much considered a lifestyle. But you need a hobby to take your mind away from your project at least for an hour a day. Mine is my dog (Maya), maybe I shouldn’t call her a hobby. But she makes me happy. Taking her on walks/hikes and playing/training her gives me the necessary breaks. So whatever you do, find something that pulls you away from your graduate projects. It should be something that doesn’t make you feel guilty that you are not working on your thesis.
Remember to have fun!