Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sundays in the Lab

To really succeed in an academic career, you begin working when everyone else goes home. To climb above the average, you do everything that you are supposed to do, and then you roll up your sleeves and get to work.

This often means working on the weekend. This weekend was no different.

The best part is the company that you keep on the weekend. It's inspiring to be among to motivated.

It's great to see this effort among graduate students. It means they "get it."

I remember many Sunday afternoons on the 6th floor of Eigenmann Hall. The hardest workers were always there.

If you're a graduate student studying mass communications -- or you are thinking of becoming one -- let me offer a word of advice. There's a lot to do during the day. Likely you'll be taking classes and writing more literature reviews than you dreamed possible.

You're probably financing your graduate education by working as a teaching assistant or research assistant. That takes up a lot of time -- sometimes more than the 20 hours for which you are paid.

And you need to have a life on top of all of that.

Many weeks it will seem impossible just to get it all done.

But you cannot stop there.

When all is said and done, you will be judged almost exclusively on what you did above and beyond what is required.

And Sunday afternoons are a good time to do this.

As a professor -- and as a graduate student trying to encourage new graduate students -- it is an interesting position in which to be. You have no real leverage to motivate graduate students to always do more. As a junior scholar you are not likely to have grant funds. You have only advice to give. You say, "this is the way it should be done." And you hope they listen.

And the good ones always do.

So this afternoon, Nikki, Wendy, Wes, and I were in the lab trying to get an experiment ready to go.

Tomorrow morning there will be classes to teach, office hours to hold, and phones to answer. Today was the day to try to brush up on electrode placement, pretest MediaLab experiments, and debug VPM code.

Tomorrow night should mark the final pretest. That is, unless, I get to use the "Murphy's law" label on tomorrow's post.

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