Monday Motivation #114 (8/8/2022)
About 15 years ago, I sat in a conference room on the third floor of the Engineering Building and watched my spouse defend his dissertation. After so many years of work, it was exciting to gather with our friends and family to hear his presentation. It was also pretty nice to not be the one presenting, since I’d passed my own final defense a few months earlier! His committee spent more than an hour talking (mostly to each other) afterwards, and then came out into the hallway to congratulate the new Doctor.
This time of year, I am reminded of that day often as students taking my EGR 993 class email to say they’ve passed their final defenses. Writing “Congratulations, Dr. ….!” is always a bright spot in my week. During the summer, the class is only available to students who have scheduled their final defense, so I tend to find a lot of good news in my inbox as August rolls around. In the fall and spring semesters, I get to meet with EGR 993 students every week to talk about writing strategies and formatting issues, and how to motivate yourself to make progress on that dissertation (or thesis, or comps paper, or journal article!). I’m usually working on my own writing projects at the same time, and I always get new ideas from the students in class that improve my own scholarship.
Teaching professional development classes wasn’t part of my original job description when I came to the College of Engineering. They evolved over the years in response to students’ needs to strengthen their writing and professional skills, and prepare for careers in industry, academia, and research. In addition to the research skills courses I teach (EGR 193, 392, 893 and 993), the College offers classes in technical writing (EGR 891 002), professional skills (CMSE 890 005), and college teaching (EGR 811). All of these are important complements to the technical and disciplinary training offered within our departments, and help prepare our graduate students for success as alumni.
As we begin to wrap up the summer and look forward to the start of a new academic year, it’s good to take time to reflect on both our academic and professional growth and make plans for strengthening skills and filling in knowledge gaps in the future. Fall enrollment is open now, so take a look at your schedule and consider whether this is a good semester to build in some professional development! (Even if the answer is “not this fall,” be sure to schedule your other classes ASAP — the Registrar’s Office watches these numbers and grad classes with too few students enrolled can be cancelled!)
Three Things to Try This Week
Plan for Graduation — understanding what requirements you need to meet by what deadlines in order to earn your graduate degree is the first step towards holding that diploma. As fall approaches, take the time to review your graduate program handbook and, if you’re in a research-based program, the Graduate School’s expectations regarding theses and dissertations. This list of deadlines is also worth bookmarking: https://grad.msu.edu/etd/etd-deadline-dates
Plan for Success — reflecting on your current skills and figuring out where you might need some additional support or practice is also important. Fitting those experiences into your graduate school schedule can take a bit of planning: the technical writing class (EGR 891 002) tends to fill up early during the enrollment process, as does the Graduate School’s “Navigating” workshop series, which walks students through the MS and PhD processes. Figuring out which classes or workshops you want to take and when they’re usually offered can help ensure that you have time to fit everything in before graduation. Spend a little time browsing the schedule of courses for different semesters and figure out when the classes you want to take will be offered next: https://reg.msu.edu/roinfo/enrollment.aspx
Plan for your Career — getting to graduation is an enormous milestone, but it’s also important to have a plan for life as an alum. Set up your job search account on handshake (https://msu.joinhandshake.com/login) and browse the resources available for graduate students’ career development: https://grad.msu.edu/phdcareers
- Most of the College’s professional development courses are available for enrollment through the regular student.msu.edu system, but EGR 893 and 993 require override permission. You can browse the syllabus and submit an enrollment request form here: EGR 893: https://sites.google.com/msu.edu/egr-893/home; EGR 993: https://sites.google.com/msu.edu/egr993/home
- Want to jump start your professional development this fall? Take a look at the calendar of upcoming events offered by the MSU Graduate School, and register for those that interest you: https://grad.msu.edu/events?field_events_category_tid%5B%5D=39&items_per_page=10
- Academic and career success are important, but so is personal growth and wellness. This fall the MSU WorkLife Office is hosting a virtual conference on “The Whole-Person Workplace” October 20. Learn more and register (for free!) here: https://worklife.msu.edu/events/2022-worklife-conference