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098: I’m in Grad School and I’m Pregnant! How to Have Kids AND a Career in Science

It’s no secret that graduate school and postdoctoral training are some of the most intellectually and emotionally challenging periods you will face in your career. Experiments fail, grant deadlines loom, and PIs push you to work long hours to publish or perish.

That’s why many trainees wait to start a family.  Time is precious, and the idea of staying up all night to record your experimental time-points is daunting enough.  Who has time to stay up all night calming a crying baby before rushing back to the lab?

Many students know they want to have kids ‘some day,’ and the six to ten-year grad-school-postdoc training period looms large.  They just don’t want to wait that long to start a family.

But is it possible to have kids WHILE you’re in grad school?

We asked an expert!

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conference meeting

097: Conference Like the Pros – How to Plan, Network, and Win

Sure, scientific conferences are not a competitive sport, but the sheer volume of information, introductions, and events can leave you feeling like you just lost a round of rugby.

This week, we share some sage advice for making your next conference the best one yet.

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096: Listener Mailbag – Program Prestige, Changing Careers, and More!

The best thing about the Hello PhD podcast is our amazing audience of grad students, postdocs, and career scientists. We get emails, tweets, and website comments full of thoughtful questions and insightful observations.

And though we try to read and respond to each message, not every question makes it into the show. Sometimes, we can reply with just a few words of encouragement, or a link to a prior episode.

But this week, we wanted to dig into the mailbag and offer a rapid-fire response to some of the burning questions you’ve sent over the last few months.

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095: Should I Finish My PhD Remotely?

A PhD takes years to complete, so it’s no surprise that your situation may change during that time.  Your PI may move to a different University, your spouse may take a job in another town, or you may need to move back home to care for ailing parents.

In these situations, you’re forced to make a difficult choice: “Should I stay with my lab and finish my work, or find a way to finish this PhD remotely?”

That’s exactly the question we got from “Walker” this week.  He and his wife desperately want to move to a new city, but he also wants to finish his degree.

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students celebrating good grades

094: Do Grades Matter in Grad School?

We got an email from a first-year student who seems to love everything about grad school… except the tests.  He’s wondering: Do grades matter?

Dear Josh and Daniel,

I am a first year chemical engineering PhD student and am currently working through a class-filled semester. For two of my classes, my midterm grades were much less than desirable for me. Now, I’m not the quickest when it comes to math, so a lower score in classes like transport compared to other students has been the norm, but these scores are even lower than what I usually expect.

Nerves have been a typical part of my exam state of mind, but past experience has shown I can usually overcome them. I feel like I understand the concepts, and my homework and quiz grades for the class would seem to indicate that. However, the tests have gotten the best of me both times.

I have to maintain a certain GPA and while I don’t know what the final grades will be yet, I feel like I should be doing better.

I guess my real question is, are class grades indicative of whether or not a PhD is right for me?

I have a master’s and have done research for more than 3 years, so I feel that the actual research portion of the program will not be the issue. And every time I get to talk research with my lab group and new advisor, I love it. For now, it just seems like my grades aren’t indicating that I’m a good enough student for the program, and I really don’t want that to be the case. I plan on talking to my advisor about it all soon as well as older grad students.

Thanks for listening and thanks for your show,

Sincerely,

Zachary

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