GradMAP: Taking a Break

GradMAP: Taking a Break


Hi, my name is Emily, and I’m the Thesis Coordinator at the Graduate College. Congratulations on reaching the end of the first term of your Graduate Degree Program. You’ve worked hard to reach this point and it is a great time to look back, and think about everything that you’ve accomplished this semester. And it’s also a great time to look forward and think about where you want to go next. Taking time to step back and reflect, helps you sort through your goals, interests, and values, and helps you plan your next action. As you look back over the last few months, here are some questions to ponder. First, think about why you came to Illinois. Was Graduate School what you expected? Are you learning what you thought you would? What do you really enjoy about your work? Next, think about what you’ve accomplished so far. What did you learn that you were most proud of? What did you learn that you were not expecting? Which new skills did you develop to help you manage your new workload and environment? What’s one resource that you’ve found really helpful? And finally, think about where you want to go next. Have new opportunities emerged that were unexpected? How have your goals shifted in light of what you’ve experienced so far? What are some things that you might change based on what went well or what didn’t go well? Taking a well deserved break is an important part of self-care. I want to encourage you to establish self-care practices as these are important to helping you through Graduate School. It is important that you use your break to step away from your work so that you can relax and recharge. You might take some time to relax with friends and family, travel, or catch up on movies or television shows. It’s also important to connect with friends and family during your down time. Having a strong social circle will be an important source of support, as you continue through Graduate School. If you are far from home during the break, take advantage of local opportunities to meet people, whether through University or community sponsored events and activities. Community Event Calendars have tons of ideas for activities to do during break. Pick an event on one of these calendars, and challenge yourself to go with a friend. While the break is an important time for self-care, it’s also a good time to work on projects that may get lost in the day-to-day work that’s driven by deadlines. The advantage of a break is that you are more likely to have a larger chunk of time available. Even if you’re spending it on an airplane. If there are projects that you have been putting off this might be a good time to develop a plan for tackling them. One project I encourage you to tackle during break is developing and refining your organizational system. During your first semester you may have gathered items such as books, articles, notes, and research data. This break is a good time to go through all your materials, and organize them. A good organizational system has: A clear set of categories, a naming system, and a storage system; whether physical or electronic. This helps you know where to put things and how to name them, as well as how to easily find them again. This might be a color-coated set of ciles in a cabinet, or it might be a folder structure and naming convention on your laptop. Setting up an organizational system now, will pay off as the complexity of your work increases in future terms. Your goal is to find an organizational system that works for you, so this will take some exploring and testing. Some strategies that you might use include: Reflecting on which parts of your organizing system went well so far and which parts to change. Asking other students about their organizational system. Some of their systems might not align with your own approach and style, but you might also find some tips that do work. Look online for articles and tips around organizing. Once you’ve done some research, test out a few organizational strategies. What did you like about the strategies you’ve found? Were there some that didn’t fit well or seemed to much work to maintain? Your task is to find one that works for you. Your time is likely to get busier as you move forward. Use this break to help you get grounded and prepared for the next term. Reflecting, practicing self-care, and identifying good strategies for the next term are all great steps to take. Thanks for watching, and from all of us at the Graduate College, we wish you a relaxing and productive break.

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