Being a graduate student is an exciting journey that definitely has its ups and downs. The roller coaster ride comes from the highs and lows of the many experiments that are performed with usually only a fraction of them resulting in positive results. When you perform several experiments and spend countless hours in the lab only to find out your efforts do not lead to an expected outcome, frustrations can rise frequently. However, when a positive result is finally obtained, the feeling is so rewarding that it often makes all the aggravations worth it.
One way in dealing with the many frustrations that arise along the way in research is by surrounding yourself with a solid network of people who can provide advice and mentorship. As a graduate student you learn to optimize experiments and being vocal to other colleagues and friends about the problems you are experiencing can often lead to insightful ideas that you would not have thought of on your own.
Additionally, I feel that although keeping a strong focus on your research project is very important, it is also key to become involved in other extracurricular activities. It is often these other activities that provide some breathing room from the normal day to day research problems and can also help create a great network of friends and mentors.
Being actively involved in other activities can provide a strong skill set that will most likely prove valuable even after graduating. As a student there are several opportunities to become involved such as by joining different societies or even taking on a teaching assistant position. Becoming a teaching assistant is a great way to discover if teaching in academia is something you want to pursuer after graduating.
Furthermore, amongst the busy schedule you may have due to your research committments and other activities, it is important to remember have some fun and enjoy yourself! Taking time to relax can allow you to clear your head and sometimes even lead to great research ideas!
On the whole, I think graduate school can be one of the best times of your life and it is all about being able to stay passionate about your research project and learn as much as you can, but also stay actively involved in other activities and have some fun along the way.
– Vaneeta Verma