Power outfits for defending, pt. 2

I’m so excited to say I passed my prospectus defense yesterday–I wrote 100 pages about what my dissertation will be about (1/3rd of the length of the full product!) and had to defend that before collecting data. Here’s what I wore…

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Defenses are really weird. The build up is big and then the let down can be…like nothing even happened. As one committee member likes to remind me, a defense is just another meeting for professors. Fair, but it also DETERMINES MY ENTIRE FATE so yeah it’s a little scary.

This defense was also downright weird–we talked for 1.5 hours and then were running out of time, so everyone was just like “yeah, good meeting!” and left…but usually at the end of a defense in our dept committee members meet without the student and then announce to you if you’ve passed or not…and they just…didn’t do that?? So I left the room like “ok! that’s over!” and then got half way down the hall before I was like “wait did I pass?” I spent the next 2 hours on an emotional rollercoaster about that before my advising meeting, where I asked my advisor, who replied “yes, wasn’t it obvious?”

Um, no. I am in grad school. Validate me always. Thanks. 

So with that flood of relief, I promptly changed outfits and went out looking for wine and a patio.

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All in all, a fine day. Weird, but better than the time the department lost my comprehensive exam answers. But that’s a story for another time. To anyone else defending as the semester ends: good luck! 😀

Professional Clothes: The Expectation

I just reread Karen Kelsky’s The Professor is In, a book all about how to land the tenure track job at the end of the grad school tunnel (cannot recommend this enough, also has useful tips about leaving academia). I forgot that not only is Karen Kelsky a career genius she is also full of clothing tips on everything you need for the campus visit. Here’s her list:

Continue reading “Professional Clothes: The Expectation”

Dressing down the pencil skirt

If you return to grad school after working an office job for a couple years you might have this conundrum: how do you style all the great business clothes you accumulated? I still have two nice suits sitting in the back of my closet, guilting me because they’re not getting enough use. So today I’m here to focus on how I dress down my dress clothes, starting with the pencil skirt. 

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My formula for dress clothes tends to be pairing one fancy piece with a bunch of other casual clothes. So today, I went with a chambray button up and lace up sandals. I do the same things with suit jackets (with a t-shirt plus jeans). I also like buying things that look like dress clothes but are super comfy, for example, pull on pencil skirts! (Like this one I’m wearing, and this one, which doesn’t have side slits).  

Do you have any clothes that suddenly seem too fancy? If so, what are your strategies to make them work? 

Spring 10×10

10×10 day 1: here’s what I’m wearing to teach today. Monday is a long day for me (12 hours at school!) but I have to be in professional clothes. Culottes are the answer to this problem! And all my problems! They’re one of those trends I saw 2 years ago and thought “eh, I’ll skip it.” And then I tried some on. And I understood everything. I’ll be wearing them all summer because they’re also perfect for teaching when it’s hot out.

Conferences vs. taking care of yourself

Hi all. I just got back from a conference and I am just…so wiped out. Every time I go to a conference I feel such a weird mix of happiness/extroversion and simultaneous extreme discouragement/imposter syndrome/”oh my god all these grad students are better than me.” I also feel like conferences expose this big academic lie that we are all disembodied brains…by which I mean, conferences totally wreck my body. Today I want to take a break from fashion to talk about how much that sucks and how I try to deal with it, and if anyone else has ideas I would really love to hear them…

Here are some things that fall apart on me at conferences: my feet, my brain, my skin, my health…and here’s how I try to deal with them:

1) Feet. I always bring cute shoes, and usually find out around hour four of wearing them that these shoes are traitors and have started acting like a cheese grater on my ankle. Solutions: moleskin (in pre-cut sizes because otherwise you’ll find yourself trying to cut it with a nail clipper in your hotel room..doesn’t work), fast flats (life changing. not real shoes. people at conferences compliment me on them all the time). 

2). Health. I hand sanitize and try not to think about antibiotic resistance. I pack Advil. I pack Tums. I’ve made many friends at conferences administering these things. Also, for prevention, I recommend bringing a probiotic. Oh, and because the food at conferences can be scarce, I research the hotel location ahead of time to decide if I should pack snacks (fruit, protein bars, and pre-packaged oatmeal cups are all excellent choices, especially if the hotel only has one Starbucks and you and 2000 of your closest conference friends are gonna have to fight over it in the morning). 

3) Skin. I don’t have a great solution to this one yet, the unhealthy food/stress combos really make me break out, but my hatred of checking bags makes it hard to bring all the products I need. I did just switch to micellar water (rather than using tap water on my face), which seems to take some of the unpredictability out of traveling, even if it does make me feel really high maintenance. And I book a facial when I return. Other ideas?

All of these solutions frustrate me, though, because they’re all so reactive. How do I prevent myself from falling apart during 72 hours of conferencing? How can I return home feeling revitalized by academic ideas and without a cold/2000 blisters? My only idea on this so far is to take a break from conferencing and change my expectations of how much I can conference. Here are my new self care rules:

1) Take an afternoon to appreciate the host city. Outdoor adventures are really nice when you’ve been inside a hotel for two days. This conference, my friends and I went to an aviary and seeing all the pretty birds was really soothing. 

2) Reset my rules about networking. Networking makes me feel very anxious because it feels fake to me. My new idea (told to me by a prof) is that if I meet and make a connection with one new person, I have done my job. Rather than trying to meet everyone at the conference, I now try to arrange coffee with one person whose research I enjoy. If I do that, I’ve done my job. Pure relief from networking anxiety! And so much more relaxing than stalking people at panels and mixers.  

Anyway, my exhaustion has made me feel introspective about the things we do to ourselves at academic conferences. What other ideas do you all have for taking care of yourself at these stressful events?

Two helpful grad school advice books about the future

Hi all, taking a break from reading to say I’ve just finished these two excellent books, which have helped me wrap my head around 1) getting a job, & 2) writing a dissertation. If you have anxiety about the future (everyone in grad school?) these made me feel more in control of the big picture.

1) The Professor is In: This book hurts. Karen Kelsky is here to administer all the tough love you may not be getting from your advisor. Best advice snippets: don’t wait to be invited to do things (submit to conferences, submit to journals), you need to push yourself to put it all out there if you want a job; and try to identify 1 or 2 mentors outside of your department/elsewhere in your field, with tips on how to build relationships with them.

2) Destination Dissertation: This book is kind of the opposite of tough love. It’s more like, “hey, if you’re in the humanities/social sciences, here are 12 steps to write your dissertation, it will only take 12, we promise.” This book has calmed me down a lot about the impending dissertation. I picked it up early (I’m a second year PhD) and I’m glad I did because it was worth reading the chapter about picking a topic this early in my studies.

Alright, back to work. Happy Sunday all! Does anyone have more good grad school advice books they would recommend?