Third Year Events

In mid-fall, a faculty-free “Fireside Chat” is held for 3rd year students. This is the time when students begin entering the long stretch where the exciting newness of graduate school dies off and the hard, slow grind of pursuing your thesis research sets in. This is also the time when cohorts have fewer or no organized events together, increasing the risk of isolation. In the first 45 minutes, a panel frankly discusses mentor/PI issues, work-life balance, and other topics. Next, lunch is provided and everyone divides up into small breakout discussion groups of 6-8 people each, with 1 to 2 MGN members as discussion leaders.

General topics covered during the 3rd year panel discussion:

  • Who is your mentor? Who is your PI? Are they the same?
  • Who do you go to when you can't talk to your PI?
  • How do you develop/maintain a good relationship with your PI?
  • How do you discuss expectations? Did you do that before you joined and now they've changed? Did yours change or did theirs?
  • How do you express your grievances with them?
  • When PIs are focused on getting a paper out, when are they focused on your career?
  • How and when do you bring up career preparations? Especially if you aren't interested in academia?
  • What career development moves have you made? i.e. funding, fellowships, conferences, supplemental activities?
  • Are you using your thesis committee? What is your communication with them like?
  • What if you're worried you joined the wrong lab? How do you take a leave? How do you switch? Is it better to just leave the program?
  • What do you do when it gets bad? What was the hardest time and what did you do? What helped you rebalance and get back on track?
  • How have you balanced outside family and friend relationships?

General topics covered during 3rd year breakout group discussions:

  • Mentors/PI relationships: finding mentors, communication
  • Lab life: funding, fellowships, conferences, travel grants, moving your project forward, thesis committee, switching projects, switching labs, taking leave of absence, managing relationships with lab mates
  • Imposter syndrome
  • Life outside of the lab: relationships (i.e. family, romantic), physical health, mental/spiritual health, financial health, work-life balance, stress, substance abuse, depression, anxiety, living arrangements, legal situations, personal or family emergencies
  • Career development: supplemental education/activities