Tuesday, November 22, 2005

True perfectionism

Grad school is unique in many ways from the real world. Besides still being a student in your late 20's when all your other friends have real jobs, grad school offers one thing that a real job rarely offers - the opportunity for true perfectionism. Whether good or bad, grad students have the luxury of being able to strive for perfection and as such it is usually expected. Be it a committee report, scholarship application, or an experiment, "good enough" is really not good enough. I've agonized countless times over one sentence that just doesn't sound right. Would spending a half an hour trying to re-word it really make a difference in the long run? No, probably not. Or that experiment that worked but the result doesn't look "pretty" enough so you spend another week tweaking things in the hopes that it results in a prettier figure. Why? Because as grad students we have learned to expect nothing less than perfection in ourselves.

Grad students have this luxury because for the most part we aren't limited by time. Sure we have that elusive five year deadline but even that isn't set in stone. Everything has some leeway in grad school. Therefore we take the time to achieve perfection. Problem is you can never really achieve perfection. Perhaps that is why it is so easy to become dejected as a grad student. As well, in the real world perfection is rarely achieved. Unlike grad school, deadlines in the real world are set in stone. You are paid to meet those deadlines and if you don't then you no longer have a job. Therefore, perfectionism gives way to getting things done as best as you can in the time you have. Maybe if "as best as you can in the time you have" became more of the norm in grad school that elusive five year deadline would be within reach. No more perfectionism for me. I want my degree!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The difference between grad school and med school

A wise person once told me that the difference between grad school and med school is:

Med school - really hard to get into but easy to get out of and get your degree

Grad school - fairly easy to get into but hard as hell to get out of and get your degree

So true! Yet somewhat depressing. I have friends who are now doctors and they started med school AFTER I started grad school. Sigh.

I'm not feeling the love

I'll try not to go into too much of a rant about this but it will be hard. I'm a bit pissed off at the department I'm in. Now no department is perfect, they all have their flaws however I'm really not feeling the love from the department. I know I shouldn't be vain and think that the department should care about me at all, after all I'm just a grad student. However, I've found their interest in you pretty much dies off when you hit the 5 year mark. I think by this point most of the department administrators see you as some sort of annoying presence that just won't go away. They also start looking at the numbers. They are all about looking good on paper and if the average time to finish a PhD in their department is over 5 years then that is frowned upon by the university. Although oddly my committe and my prof don't seem too concerned about wanting me to finish soon so apparently they didn't get the memo about pushing grad students out the door.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

All aboard the gossip train

I always knew gossip spread pretty fast in my department but I don't think I truly realized how fast until today. My supervisor gave his resignation yesterday and by noon today I had two people say to me, "So I hear he resigned". The thing is that you would have had to be living under a rock to not realize he was going to resign so I don't understand why this is such big news. I've always wanted to start some departmental gossip and see how fast it spread but now I don't have to. Apparently half a day is enough.

The epidomy of a poor grad student...

Buying Ramen noodles at Dollarama. Four packages for $1! How can you pass that up?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Telemarketers in the lab?

Today I had what I would call my first science telemarketer phone call in the lab. I thought telemarketer phone calls were reserved for the privacy of your home when you are trying to have a nice dinner. Not anymore. I answer the phone today in the lab and the lady on the other end tells me she is from a certain large scientific company and wants to know about how I do my PCR clean-up. So I tell her what kit I usually use and she proceeds to tell me about the new fancy kit their company has. The whole time she is talking I'm wondering why she called me. Then she mentions that she just called the department and they put her through to my lab. I'm guessing someone in the office doesn't like our lab. Of course I just feed into this science telemarketer lady by telling her that yes that kit does sound interesting. I'm all for the free stuff and figured maybe she was handing out sample kits. No such luck though. All I got was an email and an offer of 50% off the kit if I order it.

Now I can understand them calling if I went to the website and checked the box that says yes I'm interested in learning more about products for PCR clean-up but I didn't. I hope this cold calling isn't a new thing science companies are trying out. I'll get quite annoyed if I get a telemarketer call while I'm in the middle of an experiment. Good thing there's voicemail

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A good laugh!

This is totally not grad student related but it's damn funny. One of those things I came across while procrastinating from real work.