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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.

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    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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    Last Updated on October 8, 2020

    How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

    How to Succeed in Business: 10 Skills Every Entrepreneur Needs

    Learning how to succeed in business used to be a case of being really good at one skill or area and milking it for all its value. Today, we are fast becoming a “skills economy”[1], driving trends in employment and even the way we approach entrepreneurship.

    To succeed in today’s business landscape, business owners and executives need to possess a mix of skills that enable them to stay ahead and adapt to change.

    What do you need to do to learn how to succeed in business? Here’re 10 important skills that entrepreneurs need to become successful.

    1. Digital Savviness

    As the adage goes: “If you’re not online, you don’t exist.” Today’s entrepreneurs need to take to the internet to increase their presence to remain relevant in an evolving business landscape.

    Being able to quickly adapt to new technology, whether by utilizing cloud applications, organizing websites using content management systems, or collaborating remotely across the internet, is fast becoming the expected norm for executives.

    For businesses, discoverability on the web is becoming a quick litmus test for credibility. Potential customers and investors bank on the first page of Google to make up half their minds about making further transactions with a business. GE Capital Retail Bank found that 81% of retail shoppers conduct online research before buying[2].

    How to Develop This Skill

    For a start, begin by hosting your website and reserving all of your brand’s handles across social media platforms. While hiring a web developer might sound like the next step, consider first hosting your company’s site on more user and budget-friendly options like Squarespace, Wix, or WordPress.

    From here, you can start on some simple search engine optimization techniques that will increase your discoverability over time. Through keyword research, organic content creation, and external back-links, your site will slowly but surely garner more traffic.

    2. Financial Forecasting

    Let’s face it, many business owners feel that time could be better spent on developing and running the business instead of planning for it financially. However, a financial forecast serves as a roadmap for shaping any kind of business, so make this skill a priority when learning how to succeed in business.

    Forecasting and planning your financial goals will give you a clearer idea of resources required. It can also provide assurance to investors as a testament to the thorough research and planning you have done.

    However, inaccurate forecasts can lead to livid investors and mismanagement of expenses. When creating a detailed financial forecast, a rule of thumb is to always start with your expenses.

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    How to Develop This Skill

    Generally, it’s easier to calculate and predict your expenses compared to your revenue, so noting down your expenses is a starting point to benchmark how much you might need to generate in sales to turn a profit. It’s a good habit to regularly update and evaluate how close your operations are to what you have forecasted.

    Building a precise set of growth forecasting will take time, but, remember, you are an investor in your own business. You must have confidence in the validity of your business concept.

    3. Video Production Skills

    The rise of visual mediums and the dopamine boosts it gives to users has long been researched and proven as providing an unfair advantage to businesses that leverage it[3].

    If you’re a heavy user of social platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and even YouTube, you’ll know that it’s pretty hard to stop once you get started on a binge-watching session.

    In fact, video marketing is seeing a non-stop rise in popularity and effectiveness when used in conjunction with social media to drive traffic and boost conversions[4]. According to research, after 2019, 80% of global Internet consumption will be video content[5].

    With video marketing becoming more ubiquitous, businesses that fail to leverage the power of video are almost certain to lose out.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Some ways to get started using videos for your business would be:

    • Creating a series of educational videos that cover useful information for your audiences
    • Live videos interacting with your community at large (these can be shot on your smart phone)
    • Using videos on landing pages to boost your customer conversions

    4. Benchmarking Personal Goals to Business Performance

    As far as you get into achieving endeavors on your business bucket list, it’s important to remember that being an entrepreneur is just one facet of your identity. Don’t forget why you started in the first place, even when your focus is learning how to succeed in business.

    Ambition usually stems from some lifestyle goals you’ve always wanted for yourself and the people you might be providing for today or in the future. Working 24/7 is a surefire route to burnout.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Money can’t be your only motivation, but look into the positives of how having more financial freedom and time can impact your life. In the short term, involving your interests in your businesses can make everyday tasks feel less like mundane errands. In the long run, your business may also bring you fruitful rewards, including personal fulfilment.

    Set realistic income goals to manage expectations for your performance and your company’s revenue, especially during its earlier stages. See how projected growth can align with your personal goals and make adjustments accordingly.

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    5. Leveraging Healthy Competition

    Some of the best athletes who have spent their careers neck-and-neck with each other have changed the standards in their respective sports. The notion of healthy competition applies to the business world more than it may seem on the surface.

    Innovation has always been a key driver in free markets, which were intended to boost economies and provide customers with more choices. Just like the biggest sporting rivals that build on each others’ game, you can use your biggest competitors to hone your strategies.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Turn a competitive market landscape into an advantageous one by leveraging on long-established systems your business proposes an alternative to. Learn from the mistakes of predecessors once you discover their product or service loopholes.

    For example, the Dollar Shave Club’s viral video[6] became a big hit because it aimed at consumers tired of purchasing expensive but low quality shavers from retail giants. Going in second meant they could fill a gap competitors might not even have been aware of.

    Solidify your place with your business’ advantage — whether you’re tapping into a new geographical region or unexplored market sector, or introducing a business model that is more viable than others.

    6. Honing Pitches to Investors

    Stand out in a broad mix of entrepreneurs by mastering the art and science behind a solid investor pitch. Make this a focus if you want to learn how to succeed in business. Get comfortable talking about your ideas and receiving feedback or questions from peers, partners, and advisors before setting out to make a good impression on potential customers and eventually investors.

    The phrase “If you can’t convince them, confuse them,” will certainly never get your business funded, especially in front of seasoned venture capitalists who have seen thousands of startup pitches. You should be able to deliver a quick elevator pitch that summarizes your unique proposition for casual meet-ups[7] because you sometimes only have a few minutes to make a good impression.

    How to Develop This Skill

    Develop your investor pitch deck by highlighting your business’ strongest points, which will vary for every funding round. Create your deck with the investors’ interests in mind, balancing technical jargon and buzzwords.

    You can also introduce your diverse team of experts, some proven traction, or the current state of the market to demonstrate profitability and the attractiveness of the opportunity to investors.

    Ensure each slide flows into the other to develop a persuasive narrative, utilizing consistent and intelligent design principles to support your content.

    7. Developing a Strong Brand Identity

    In a world of saturated content and numerous emerging businesses that offer similar service lines, developing a unique brand identity will help you cut through the noise and stand out from your competition[8].

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    Define your personal brand to succeed in business.

      Evaluating your brand identity is linked to identifying your target customers, your business goals, a proposed promised land your solution achieves, and identifying values that are aligned with these components. Brand identity serves as a guide to maintaining consistency and creating an image you want your business to be associated with.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Efforts to strengthen your brand identity are closely tied to giving marketing strategies a direction.  By knowing what makes your target customers tick, you will be able to elevate your business from simply being a service or product to a projected brand customers and partners would be happy to identify with.

      8. Automating to Your Advantage

      The need for efficiency is often a general problem new businesses aim to resolve. As you’re learning how to succeed in business, assure that your proposed solution is more efficient than what’s readily available in the market to inspire the need for it.

      Efficiency is often achieved nowadays through digitalization and new technologies. While your product or service may not necessarily be the most innovative out there, you can apply the same automation concept across your business’ daily operations.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Shorten turnaround times and conversion rates by investing in small tools for automation where you deem fit. While it may come out of your pocket in the early stages, evaluate the advantages and benefits of automating certain processes. At our office, we’ve tried using collaborative apps like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Asana and a few other popular apps to reduce human error and friction.

      9. Managing Millennials

      Your team plays an integral part in whether your business will accelerate at breakneck speeds or be dragged down by dead weight. Hence, it is imperative to be selective and strategic when choosing your team.

      In leaner, small business teams, the addition of every new teammate can impact how your organization culture evolves.

      Today, learning to manage millennials has become an increasingly sought after skill as well due to the increasing proportion of them in the workforce[9]. Some brand them as strawberries that are easily bruised, and others loath their need for “meaning” and wearing T-shirts to work.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Naturally, there are many misconceptions surrounding millennials, and various businesses would do well to leverage their unique skills.

      A couple of ways to manage a millennial team include:

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      Encourage a Flat Team Structure With Open Communication

      Maintain clear professional lines between supervisors and subordinates, but keep communication channels open to ensure no negativity festers.

      Offer Constructive Feedback

      Baby boomers are well known for their straightforward approach to delivering feedback. Millennials, on the other hand, don’t always take feedback in a form that could be construed as deep criticism.

      Being constructive with feedback ensures that you don’t coddle millennial workers but also tell them the things they need to hear.

      10. Maintaining a Network of Connectivity

      When learning how to succeed in business, instead of proposing a model that’s disruptive to an industry, build connections with other companies that serve the same target customers, as long as they provide a different service.

      By creating partnerships, both you and other businesses thrive simultaneously.

      Sole market disruption isn’t always the best strategy to take. Not everybody has the opportunity, bandwidth, or financial capacity to dominate and monopolize a marketplace. See your potential for integration into other businesses and services as a good opportunity for co-collaborative marketing efforts with shared campaigns, split costs, and a strengthened customer database for everyone to tap into.

      How to Develop This Skill

      Regardless of the stage your business is in, never stop looking for ways to expand your network. Keep in contact with mentors you can look to for valuable industry advice that can help you avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes. Strengthen brand awareness by attending cross-industry events and casual meet-ups to open your business to reinvention and innovation.

      As the African proverb goes:

      “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

      Collaborating will get you where you want to go quicker and gear you up for further growth.

      More on How to Succeed in Business

      Featured photo credit: Tyler Franta via unsplash.com

      Reference

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