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12 Things Only a Graduate Student Would Understand

12 Things Only a Graduate Student Would Understand

At some point in your life, you will come across people who, despite landing a job after college, are using their hard-earned money to study again. You might smirk at the idea of these graduate students (whether they are in med school, law school, MA or PhD) “wasting” their resource, time and effort on having a college life after college is already over, but the truth is that many people try to better themselves in this way. Here are 12 things that only a graduate student would understand.

1. We’re still friends, but I can’t come with you tonight for a drink.

You know what I’m talking about—those friends who incessantly invite you for a drink on Friday or Saturday night. While it’s tempting to enjoy a hearty dinner and booze with our dear friends, we can’t help but consider that studying for our recitation the next day is better than saying “yes” for the meantime (and meantime means a lot of time). This is no longer a stage where we can just go out and feel at ease the next morning, since usually, we have something to recite in front of the class.

2. When I say I am broke, it means that I. Am. Really. Broke.

Most graduate students are actually struggling in life with balancing full-time time work and studies. While some rich kid grad students have the luxury of both money and time to lean on, we working graduate students are paying rent, bills, books and for our own sumptuous dinner after finals. So if you try to invite us for a movie and we say we’re broke, just buy what we’re saying. We really are broke.

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3. The office is a warehouse of our research papers.

C’mon! Come clean now. At some point in our life, we asked our manager to print something for us, whether it is a research paper, a proposal or a PDF of our lesson for the semester—whatever it may be, we are very thankful to our quite-understanding managers who help us print it for free. Anyway, we work hard while we’re at work, don’t we?

4. We take bedtime as seriously as study time.

We are not just party-deprived—we are also sleep-deprived. We feel sleepy while studying, so we try to sleep, but then we just obsess over everything we’re nervous about, so we can’t sleep! It’s a vicious cycle. As a grad student, it really takes a lot of courage to embrace sleep as we did when we were children. ‘Nuff said—I am going to sleep. Bye!

5. There’s no such thing as a weekend.

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I have known weekends as a 2-day phenomenon where you can do just anything and enjoy yourself. But entering grad school made me erase “weekend” from my vocabulary. What’s the point of having this so-called weekend when all we can do is finish our paper work? So what does our usual work week look like? Mondays through Mondays.

6. Expect the unexpected with your mediocre classmates—they usually do great later!

In grad school, your peers will all be wearing costumes. It’s quite hard to pinpoint who’s who, and it’s especially difficult to pinpoint the winners. Don’t judge your peers too early—they might remove their masks and emerge as winners.

7. Our backpack is our home and our smart phone is our office.

The world is totally fast-paced right now. If you combined that with a full-time job and being in grad school, you will surely find yourself praying that days are longer than 24 hours so that you can sleep for eight. But the Earth’s axis cannot grant our request, so we are more likely live the life of a turtle, having everything packed in our bags and in our smart phone. I didn’t even know I have a cake in my bag for almost a week.

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8. Is there food in that seminar?

Are we suppose to be ashamed of this? Well, I think not. With seminars and classes piling up one after the other, grad students would probably ask there if there is food in that seminar. I mean we are going to allot our precious time on a quite long seminar so please give us a consolation of food that we can munch on once we’re bored. Make it two helpings, please.

9. Health is wealth. But I’d rather sleep.

Talk about health? I would really love to but you know…I am kinda….but seriously….zzzzzzzzzzzz

10. Graduating with flying colors doesn’t guarantee success.

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We are no longer undergrad students where a Latin Honor will hype us in the so-called “real world.” But what comes after is nothing more than the real world with a twist. Once you’re in grad school, having a special color robe during graduation is practically meaningless. It’s just another attempt to prove one’s worth; the secret to success is to be humble.

11. We are not on track with other 20-somethings.

While many of my mates on Facebook (and why am I even online when I’m supposed to be studying) are posting their photos of being married, having their second baby, or opening their online store, here we are still grappling with our books when we were supposed to be done with this like 2 years ago. But this is the road we’ve taken, so let it be.

12. We are not just students; we are GRADUATE students.

graduate

    We don’t earn our crazy eye bags just for nothing. So please understand that we won’t let you get away with saying we are just students. We are undergrad students and we are now embarking on being graduate students. Again, we are not just students. We. Are. Graduate. Students. Although it can be difficult, we certainly love what we are doing. After all, partaking in graduate school is already written in our plans and decisions as adults. Oops! I have to go work on my assignment now.

    Featured photo credit: back of graduates during commencement. via shutterstock.com

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    Published on September 18, 2018

    17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

    17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

    Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

    Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

    Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

    After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

    Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

    1. Show your appreciation

    In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

    The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

    Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

    2. Communicate effectively

    Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

    Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

    3. Be open to dialogue

    Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

    New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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    In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

    For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

    4. Provide constructive criticism

    Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

    So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

    Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

    Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

    Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

    5. Conduct one-on-ones

    Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

    While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

    Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

    More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

    6. Build training programs

    In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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    From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

    While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

    7. Offer growth opportunities

    Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

    Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

    Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

    8. Reward them

    Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

    If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

    Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

    9. Encourage team outings

    Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

    From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

    10. Involve them

    Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

    Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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    11. Set meaningful goals

    In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

    Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

    12. Empower them

    You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

    Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

    Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

    13. Deal with conflict

    A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

    How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

    As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

    14. Implement a flexible work culture

    Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

    Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

    It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

    15. Host engaging activities

    All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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    From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

    16. Maintain a positive work space

    Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

    Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

    These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

    17. Avoid discrimination

    Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

    In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

    The bottom line

    Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

    It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

    This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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