Global Ambassador Stories

May 26, 2021

Getting the Most Out of Your Graduate School Experience

Story by Ola Wasel

This Ambassador Story is to present some tips to graduate students to gain the most out of their journey at graduate school.

Ask for help if you need it

Asking for help will not minimize your abilities; it will show that you are aware of your weaknesses and want to strengthen and overcome them.

Set realistic goals to achieve

Graduate school is a long-term journey; you may get overwhelmed with what you have to do, which may affect your progress. You should set realistic short-term and long-term goals for yourself and a timeline for achieving these goals. Check frequently if you have successfully achieved your goals according to your planned timeline. If not, revise your plan and think of reasons why your plan didn’t go as you planned. Realize those reasons and consider them when you set your goals the next time.

Have a work-life balance

In addition to the need to practice time management to achieve your research goals, it is important to have a work-life balance. Spending time with family or friends will reduce stress and charge your spirit and your brain. As a mother of two sons, I make sure that I spend quality time with my sons. 

With my two sons, Ali and Saleh, during graduation with MPH degree in 2018. 

Participate in social and professional events

Participate in social events and in the student organizations to make friends, have fun and learn from other’s experiences. Also, participating in symposiums and conferences is so important to learn the recent updates in your field of study, get feedback on your research from professional peers, and expand your network.

Build your professional career

It is vital for you to plan for your career while you are in graduate school. Discuss your career goals with your advisor to help plan for these goals. If you are considering working in academia, ask your advisor to help in writing a grant proposal, and mentor undergraduate researchers. If you are considering working in industry, having an internship would be a great opportunity to get experience on what working in industry looks like and decide if that is really what you would like to do post-graduation. Luckily, I had the chance to experience both by writing a funded proposal two years ago that helped conduct my research and getting an internship at Apple last fall.

Make the most of the available resources

One of the amazing resources here at Purdue is the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO). This center offers many services that help build your career along with your degree. These services include, but are not limited to, one-on one consulting, workshops, and career fairs.

The views of the author are not necessarily those of the Grad School or Purdue University.