So it’s been a year since I began this journey to a new career and it’s been a mix of stress, excitement, terror and satisfaction. I’ve somehow managed to maintain a 4.0 (yay!) while balancing two classes a semester with a 50- to 60-hour a week full-time job. Since last August, a lot has changed, and many of these things have directly affected my ability to succeed in grad school.
- I quit my full-time newspaper design job for a part-time job at a public library. I work as a senior library clerk on the reference desk and I am already 10 times happier than I ever was in newspapers. This reduced stress and increased free time have combined to make the second summer session a lot easier to cope with. Plus it’s a whole lot easier taking what I’m learning in grad school and seeing how it can apply in a library setting.
- I’ve learned that to stay sane, I need to make time to interact with my friends. Without these moments to unwind, my brain gets all muddled and I can’t think straight.
- I became a scheduler. All through undergrad, I pretty much just winged my schedule and somehow managed to muddle through (with the help of more than my fair-share of coffee and all-nighters). To succeed in grad school, though, you have to schedule, schedule, schedule. Schedule time to do homework. Schedule time to unwind. Schedule time to work out or cook or play with your dog. Setting out a schedule means you will not only have time to complete your work, you will also have time to relax. Sticking to the schedule is essential. Once you fall off of it, it is ridiculously difficult to get back on track.
- And finally, I’ve had to learn to trust my opinions. The big differences between undergrad and grad school is that you are the expert at grad school. Having that undergraduate degree means you are now allowed to have your own opinions. You should trust them and have faith in yourself. The most difficult class I had so far was my management class because our final paper had to include original ideas, not just the sourced opinions of others. That was terrifying to me. It was only when I aced it and read the comments from the professor (whose opinion I trust and respect completely) was I able to realize that I wasn’t actually a fake and that I belonged where I was.
Now that I have two weeks to unwind from the insanity of summer, I am so proud of myself for succeeding in this quest to improve myself and to get into the career I want for the rest of my life. Look for a few posts on my first month in my public library job and another post going a little deeper into my classes and UMD’s online program.