When I was younger, I elected to spend my after school hours watching educational television, reading those giant Eyewitness books, or puzzling through kitchen chemistry experiments. I spent my summers at talented youth programs, where I wrote essays and read the works of philosophers for seven hours a day. My senior year of high school I took no fewer than five AP classes and in college, I couldn’t decide between two majors so I kept them both. And for my entire life, my parents would joke about how I was a professional student; that I’d stay in school for the rest of my life, if only someone would pay me.
And they were right! I am going to stay in school for the rest of life and yes, part of that time will be spent as this so-called “professional student.”
One of my ultimate professional goals is to become a professor. A neuroscience/neuropsych professor with a research lab with little undergrads to do my bidding. I came to this life plan gradually. First I wanted to do something science-y. Then I decided I wanted a lab, with the white coat and everything. And then one day, while emailing my undergraduate psychology advisor, I realized I wanted to continue having these kinds of academic friendships. Furthermore, I felt that I want to be on the other side of that professor-student relationship. So onward to professordom I go!
Everything about being a professor appeals to me, from the silly stupid things like being able to wear jeans to work to the notion that one day someone will address me as “Dr. [insert last name here].” I am already excited about furnishing my future office and filling the bookshelves with volumes of knowledge. I cannot wait for conferences, for peer reviewed papers, for dull faculty meetings and university politics. Sometimes I think about the advice I will give my future advisees; will I be as helpful as my own major advisors? Will they come to me when…
…wait. Advisees?! I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, no? I haven’t entered a Ph.D program yet, much less applied to one. That is my Ultimate Big Project until all of the applications have been postmarked and mailed in. It’s quite the undertaking. Like applying to college again, but more expensive, with more to do and more on the line.
The “more to do” part of that is quite daunting. There are program requirements to be researched, letters of recommendation to be solicited, standardized exams to be studied for and taken. I need to find writing samples or maybe produce new ones and write essays about how awesome of a candidate I’d make. And on top of all that, I still need to network my way into at least one of the programs.
I’m usually a last-minute kind of person, but because of the immensity of this application process, I’m trying to get the gears grinding now, before the added stresses of schoolwork and more schoolwork are piled on top. But like I said, I’m a procrastinator. Planning ahead and then following through are most definitely NOT some of my strong points.
To solve this issue, I’m trying to do something at least vaguely professional-goal-related every single day until the end of the summer. Whether it is emailing potential contacts or actually writing a response to a question or whatever, I plan on doing something helpful for my life every day. I intend to use this blog to help me; if I make myself write about my pursuits perhaps I’ll be kept accountable for my plans.
So. To begin. I started with sending an email to a professor who was Ph.D’ed in a lab I’m rather interested in.