Life as a Grad Student

McGill… first semester and beyond

I promised I would start from the beginning, so I guess that would be the most logical place to begin. The first few days of my first semester as a grad student were pretty basic, filled with new student orientation, getting used to new classes and new professors, and so forth. I would say it wasn’t really until the mid-late September or early October that things became pretty intense.

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Why McGill?

To answer the question many of you are probably thinking in your heads, I’ve decided to devote three separate blog entries covering the following topics: why I chose McGill (including the application process), life at McGill as a grad student, and what I liked and didn’t like about living in Montreal. Alright, here we go!

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First week….at Home

I am a place association person. What I mean by that is, I associate my home with comfort. The desk in my house is for creative writing or crafts. The reading nook is for fun and relaxing reading. AndI associate the location of my job with work. The location is a place of focus and productivity. My desk is for writing finding aids, attending webinars, and answering emails. The archive is for research and processing collections. 

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Twenty Thousand Review

I read a lot of books and I like to think that I am a fast reader. However, this book proved me wrong. It took me about two months to finish this book, over three hundred pages! I’ve read long books before, mostly academic which makes them more skim-able. The past two months of reading this book has taught me that fiction books are harder to skim, at least for me.

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Starting Remotely

After a week of dreading the news of how my interview went, I got to celebrate my success in finally landing a job. It was the first week of March. My start date was set for April 6th and I put in my notice at both part time jobs. Everyone was excited for me and I was waiting for HR to send me a contract to sign. By then COVID-19 hit New York City with it’s first case.  

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Now What?

Every time I applied for a position, my head was full of doubt. Who did I think I was? I had no real professional experience. Was I even a professional? And every rejection seemed to confirm that. I wasn’t good enough (there goes my chance to be a professional). It is impossible to talk yourself out of that doubt. I had to be brave and reach out to family, friends, and mentors to pull me out of that hole. And when that rejection eventually came, I had to ask for reassurance. I needed their reassurance to keep applying and not settle for the part time hustle. 

After I received a rejection email from an in-person interview, I had had it. On the drive to my part time job, I called my mom crying. I had put everything into that interview. I had built myself up from rock bottom, put on makeup, and pushed my anxiety aside. And all I got was another fucking rejection email. I wanted to give up that night. I was angry with the world and wanted to watch it burn. I had felt an unfamiliar rage and it took my mom an hour to calm me down.

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Going Beyond the Internship

When I was in graduate school, everyone told me how important and valuable internships were for my academic career. However, what they didn’t tell me was those internships had to be unpaid to count towards my degree and the internships would not be counted as professional experience. Let me explain to you how this bullshit idea that internships (paid and unpaid) are not considered professional experience and how that can be avoided on your resume. I would put internships into two categories; actual unpaid strictly a learning experience internship and unpaid free labor for institutions that could not pay you “internship”. In short, an actual internship and volunteering for the credits.

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