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Last couple months and the job market

Hi everyone,

This may come off as tooting my own horn. I don't mean to do that by any means...

So, 6 months ago, not really having any idea of the receptiveness of the real-world to my skillset, I applied for jobs like crazy - both academic and government. I won't say I've been flooded, but I've gone on about 5-6 interviews (all far away = $$$) mostly at pretigious places that anyone would like to have. The response has been good. However, there are some issues that are driving up my stress levels. I was wondering if anyone's been in the same position (or not) and what would you do...

1) They want me to start "yesterday" and I'm struggling to finish up and hope to do so by July 1. But there's never any guarantee. Also I REALLY want to take a decent vacation before jumping into the workforce, after 10 straight years of uni.
2) The industry is small. Word will get around that I let these places spend $2000+ to bring me to interviews just to reject them. (I never lied about my intentions but I did enjoy getting wined and dined!)
3) I want to hear back about all interviews before making any decisions but the first ones are starting to put pressure on giving an answer.


HELP! endnote+track changes

This is a pain in the @$$ !!! My trick (and it's really not very profound) is to turn off track changes while doing anything Endnote-related. I wish MS would come out with a decent referencing system so that there would be better compatibility.

Taking on new stuff before finishing the old

Hi Fellow PhD'ers:

Does anyone else find that taking on new work (paid jobs, following new ideas, collaborations, etc.) to be way more gratifying than finishing off what needs be done (papers related to work, thesis, core research, etc.)?

I find that the best way to get over a "funk" (being bored/unmotivated) is to take something new on. Introspectively, this is probably the worst thing to do (being in my last year), but I just can't help it! On a side note, I find that dating is equally distracting, yet gratifying!

I hope things are as sunny there as they are here in Montreal :)


Gift for supervisor?

I bought my supervisor a bottle of whiskey a couple years in to my PhD just as a general thank you. I think it would be a nice gesture to give a gift at graduation just to acknowledge them.

What to wear to present at an academic conference?

When having the same concerns for my first conference, I did a little internet research and discovered that the conference posted photos of the last year's event. So that was an easy way to see what was typical attire.

On a side note, I have always been shocked at how casual some people get at conferences; but never shocked about how fancy they are (because they rarely are). Maybe it's just my field, but I've seen baggy jeans and hoodies at banquets where I would have assumed dress pants and a button up shirt would be the absolute minimum.

Goals for next year?

Good thread idea!

1) Finish core research to the point that writing can commence in early 2011.
2) Impress potential post-doc supervisors in US and Europe at conferences.
3) Have a flat stomach with visible abs.
4) Make more friends.
5) Publish two journal articles.
6) Double my income.
7) Win a conference scholarship.
8) Win over the girl that I'm currently starting to see to the point of commitment.

A guy's gotta dream!

Professional Recognition

I'm not sure how things work there, but here in Canada, as long as someone is a professional engineer, and you work under them, they can give you some credit for hours worked. I'm doing consulting work with one of my supervisors and he agreed to write a letter saying so. I hear you though, I will (hopefully) graduate when I'm 28 and will have 4 months' professional experience. I need 4 year to be designated.

program for curve-fitting and optimization

Hi Limlim: MATLAB is definitely excellent and powerful. I have used it a fair amount for curve fitting and optimization. It's straightforward to import data from Excel, graph, etc. The only challenge would be a little bit of programming...but it's not too difficult if you have some background in programming. MATLAB offers a lot of flexibility and power at the cost of a little more effort setting things up. MATLAB is downloadable....not that I encourage that, of course! Also, I would have thought you'd have access to it in computer labs. At my university, it's as common as Word.

Is it normal?

I think it's definitely normal. What you have to remember is that your research probably looks fascinating to others on the *polished* surface. I'm sure when you present your work, you have a way of focusing on the most interesting and intellectual details, while glossing over the boring details. I think when we look at other topics, we forget that they're not all they seem. As my old boss used to say: "the devil is in the details".

writing fuel

oatmeal (minute oats, brown sugar, frozen blueberries, milk, microwave for 3-4 mins).
guacamole on baked pita (1 avacado + 2-3 tbsps of salsa; lightly cover pita in olive oil, salt, broil for 3 mins)
garlic cheese bread (butter bun, bagel, etc., sprinkle garlic powder or fresh garlic, cover in grated cheese, broil)

I think taking a cooking break is healthy. You could also make things like pizza, soup, stew, given that they can last at least several meals.

Starting my PhD in 5 months and need to know somethings

I'll address #1. Imagine in the finish line from day 1. Your effort in something should reflect its importance for your thesis. Too often, I make the mistake of doing a half-assed job early on, just to realize that I'll use that information/graph/table/etc. many more times and should have done it right from day 1.
Also, use Endnote or some other referencing program from the beginning. This will save you lots of time.
Finally, time spent learning is never wasted. Taking a few days to read a textbook with relevant fundamentals will save you lots of time in the long-run, even if there's no tangible product immediately.

Bending over backwards for your supervisor

I think you've raised some good points. Meetings should definitely be kept separate. It's awesome that you're actually interested in your RA work. Mine are usually menial and administrative. Anyway, a meeting to sort these things out is definitely long overdue! Thanks for the advice.

Bending over backwards for your supervisor

Yes, I guess you'd say I'm his RA. I'm not in the UK, so I gather things are a little different here. There's no fixed requirements in terms of time or anything like that.

I don't mind doing some tasks, but he shows ZERO appreciation. There's a saying in our group that: he shows appreciation by giving more work when you complete a task.

Anyway, it's gotten to the point, where we discuss these irrelevant tasks more than my research. In fact, I don't get any feedback/advice about my research...but that's another thread.

Bending over backwards for your supervisor

So, my supervisor tends to give me a lot of tasks that aren't overly relevant to my research (e.g., reviewing papers, writing reports, organizing meetings, etc.). Usually, it's just a matter of displacing work that he should be doing. Now, these tasks are slowing me down to the point where major milestones are being delayed. In the past when I was new, I thought that I had to comply with everything, and I'd literally do whatever it took to make him happy. But I'm beginning to think that standing up to him and being honest and flat out saying: I'll get to it when I get to it.

I realize he pays me, but after all, I'm sacrificing years of my life so I can advance MYSELF!

I was just wondering if anyone deals with this and how they cope.

Recycled conference papers

Thanks for the responses. I forgot to mention that one of the conferences in national; the other international. I'm going to spend the day bringing the common parts down to around 50%. It doesn't help that one of my supervisors thinks it's fine to reuse and the other thinks it's horrific. Gotta love conference papers... :-)