10 l WWW.ACS.ORG/GRADCHEMIST
cise, and burnout. It’s relatively easy to
get lost in this cycle (I did). I realized
at the end of my second year that in
order to maximize my efficiency for the
long haul, I needed to set aside time to
recharge every week. To reduce stress,
I started running every day, leading a
graduate student coloring circle, and
baking. Figure out what works for you.
Don’t Accept Just Any Job Offer
I know how it feels. You’re sick and tired
of living on a meager graduate student
stipend. You just want a job, any job!
Although it might be tempting, I advise
you to not simply accept any job offer.
Ask questions, negotiate, and make
sure you know what you’re getting into.
(Sounds a bit like starting a Ph.D., eh?)
Discuss with human resources your
hours, how you’ll be trained, whether
you can work from home, to whom
you’ll report, etc. Be sure to peruse the
company reviews on websites like Glass-
door to scope out the lowdown on your
prospective employer. You’ve worked so
hard to obtain your Ph.D.! Even though
perhaps you’ve been beaten down by
critical journal reviews, keep your head
up. Don’t sell yourself short. Explore
your options and continue to do your
To the wise postdoc who assured
me I would be ready to start my Ph.D.
once I completed it: You were correct.
I essentially embarked on my degree
without having any prior knowledge
of my dissertation topic. (Frustrated
magnetism, what’s that?!) Not only did
I gain the technical skills and knowledge to perform good research, but I
also gained insight along the way—from
an understanding of how the academic
business functions to an appreciation
for (learning from) failed experiments.
Although it may sometimes feel like
the converse, graduate school imparts
a great deal of flexibility to study what
truly interests you. The key to conquering your Ph.D. is to take your time, give
yourself the credit you deserve, and remember that you have what it takes!
Alright, now that it’s over, I’m finally ready to tackle this Ph.D.! n
received her Ph.D.
2017. She is a
sor and freelance
writer and editor
based in New
York City. Marisa also serves as the chair
of the Communications subcommittee of
the American Chemical Society’s Younger
Chemists Committee (YCC).
“Even though perhaps you’ve been
beaten down by critical journal
reviews, keep your head up. Don’t sell
yourself short. Explore your options
and continue to do your research! ”
Figure 1. Picturing the “ivory tower,” I initially suspected graduate school to be.