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Home » Discover Rackham » Note to my first-year grad student self

Dear first-year grad student me,

I think of you wistfully every now and then, remembering your boundless enthusiasm for genetics and optimism about the world. You naive young thing, you. I’m so glad you don’t know what lies ahead. Ignorance IS bliss, but don’t tell your thesis committee that!

I shake my head watching you code inefficiently, and cringe at your organizational skills. Second-year grad student me is going to be very mad at you when she has to go through those folders! Please be better about commenting your code and making your README files a little more verbose, okay? Always try to code keeping future you in mind, and that everything you are doing right now will probably have to be revisited in six months.

Don’t worry, though. Those Nature papers will gradually become less incomprehensible (really!), and you’ll learn to distinguish the good ones from the bad. Yes, not all Nature papers are fabulous. And yes, get used to reading the Supplementary section.

Stop worrying about the project you’ll work on: there’s a lot of exciting questions that aren’t yet answered! Don’t stop attending seminars completely unrelated to your work, it’s one of those that’ll help you with your prelim proposal. And they’ll keep you enthusiastic longer, and remind you that science is still fun, even if your thesis is trying to convince you otherwise.

*Hi-five* over your choice of mentor. You did good, young padawan.

You’ll get better at this science thing. I promise. Just keep going.

Good luck for the next few years, you’re going to need it. And pass on some of that enthusiasm to me, won’t you?