Ask a PhD Researcher About Exams, Motivation, and Whether Grad School Is Right For You
Author: Jen Li
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ig live interview post contest

Is school preparing you for the industry? I checked in with Sarah Habibi, otherwise known as @science.bae, to find out what it takes to perform in graduate school. Nearly 20,000 followers are fans of her Instagram page as she provides motivation and resources with makeup and beauty while sharing her experiences as a Ph.D. student. Sarah is in her final year at Ontario Tech University working in the molecular biology laboratory, that focuses on parasitology and pharmacology.

We organized a Live IG interview on February 19, 2020 - amidst reading week for many - to get the nitty, gritty details of what has contributed to Sarah's path to success!

Unfortunately, we ran into technical difficulties and were unable to record it. But we knew what Sarah had to say was gold and without hesitating, she provided a full text for all the questions you had asked! Right? She's a gem. We are clear that conscious achievers know their larger role in seeing opportunities to support a global community. By not limiting access to graduate insights, we hope that students can apply these tips to help manage their school and plan for a career to support their own communities. Check out our interview below!

science bae student phd

How does one know that grad school is right for them? What are the signs for people to look for?

I think you know grad school is right for you if you are constantly asking questions about things, feel the need to search for answers, and like to critically solve problems. I love grad school because I get to be an independent researcher. These signs are good indicators that grad school might be for you. But that being said, you never know if something is 100% right for you until you try it. I recommend trying to volunteer in a research lab first before enrolling directly into a Masters or Ph.D. program.

Could you offer your best study tips for students going into exams next month?

Plan, plan, plan! Plan your study schedule 2 weeks in advance. Assess when each of your exams is scheduled and plan for how you will best study for them in the days prior. If you have two tests scheduled a day apart, do not spend your entire time studying the first exam and save studying for the second exam until the night before. This leads to pulling all-nighters and cramming. Rather, plan how you will best split up your days to study for both courses t the same time.

What could you say to science students if they want to achieve a research position like you?

Try to get research experience during your undergraduate degree. There are often opportunities to volunteer in various research/technical labs when you are in 2nd and 3rd year of university. There are also summer research scholarships for students to conduct research for a summer. These are great for giving you a snapshot look at what the life of a researcher looks like. In 4th year, you have the opportunity to complete an honours thesis project in a research lab. This is also a good experience to have to help you determine if you would like to pursue graduate studies.

What do you recommend I do if I’m writing a proposal?

Proposals are very different for different fields of research. I can say, however, that every good research proposal clearly states the importance and impact of the research you are proposing. This allows the reviewers to see how the funds will be utilized and show them that you are competent in doing that research.

Can you describe a time when stress has resulted in making errors at work?

When I am extremely stressed and I spread myself too thin, I result in forgetting things. I have had a few instances where I was super stressed and busy that I forgot an important meeting. That’s when I realized the importance of taking breaks and not taking on more than you can handle.

How do you motivate yourself out of a slump?

I always have my eye on the end prize. Whenever I get down on myself or in a mood that I need to be pulled out of, I remind myself of why I am doing the Ph.D. I remember how this will allow me to further pursue my goals of being a university professor. Always remember why you are doing what you are doing and the benefits you are gaining from it. This helps shed positivity onto your situation and move past the hurdles you may face.

We hope this helped! 2 people that tuned in during the interview have won $25 towards their student life. Congratulations @nihad.kh_ + @rhianna_fitzer! 💚

We know that by spreading yourself too thin, with exams or decisions to make, our advice is to always seek out an app that can help you. Would you have any idea how many apps exist in order to save you time? With our app, Second Bind, we help you earn back money from the textbooks you're finished with. Some textbooks get donated to schools in Africa, others go back to the hands of a student. Either way, we believe in giving back to this planet. So with any book you sell or donate, we'll plant a tree for you. 🌳

Best of luck this week!

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Jen Li

Marketing Manager,  Second Bind

I believe students are our future. And the best way to predict your future is to create it.

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