By Brittany Davis
Doctoral Student in Adult, Professional, and Community Education
Paloma Gray and Brittany Davis at the International Research Conference for Graduate Student
Graduate school is hard — there’s no denying it. Fortunately, for grad students at Texas State University, The Graduate College (the cornerstone of graduate education on campus) offers tons of opportunities for graduate students to develop professionally and academically, get involved, and feel appreciated. I speak from personal experience as I am a first-year doctoral student in the Adult, Professional, and Community Education program here at Texas State. I finished my master’s in Adult Education from Texas State in May 2017 which means I have had the pleasure of being a graduate student on this campus for almost three years now!
During my time here, I have learned about best practices at Shop Talks, presented research findings at the International Research Conference for Graduate Students (see photo), participated in Graduate Student Appreciation Week, launched my running addition by joining the Running With the Graduate Deans program, and mingled with potential employers at career networking sessions. Each of these events have positively impacted my experience as a graduate student and have contributed to my aspirations as a future scholar.
Let’s start with Shop Talks. During my first semester as a graduate student, I was sure I wanted to write a thesis. With the support of my advisor, I attended “Strategies for a Successful Thesis or Dissertation”. This Shop Talk guided me through the expectations for writing a thesis. After consulting again with my advisor, I was then able to make an educated decision to choose the comprehensive exam option of the degree. I have since attended numerous Shop Talk which have all been instrumental in making the right decisions for my scholarly career.
The International Research Conference for Graduate Students is an amazing opportunity to present your research (free of charge!) and listen to the research of other graduate students on campus. I have attended the IRC three times and presented once, using a literature review I wrote for a class. Now, I have a conference presentation to put on my CV and experience presenting research! Oh, and I made a friend (she’s in the picture with me).
Graduate Student Appreciation Week is probably the most exciting time as a graduate student on campus. It is a week full of luncheons, socials, wellness classes, Shop Talks, and other fun events designed especially for graduate students — AND it’s all free! Last year, my favorite event was the etiquette luncheon. (Who knew you weren’t supposed to butter your whole roll at once?! The more you know…)
Before starting grad school, I was not a runner, not by any stretch of the imagination. I kept noticing promotions about the Running With the Graduate Deans wellness program and decided to give it a try. My first race was the Sights and Sounds of Christmas 5K and 1K Jingle Bell Run in December of 2016. Even though I walked most of it (those hills are no joke!), I felt amazing afterwards! I began running more and have completed two half marathons since then. Also, I met tons of other graduate students as well as two of the grad deans.
The Career Prep Networking events are relatively new for graduate students. I have been to two so far, and both times I learned something new about the job search. The first session taught me a lot about networking (dressing appropriately, bringing multiple copies of your resume, things like that). The most recent session I attended featured a panel of employers who answered questions about the job search. It was great listening to their answers which provided excellent tips for interviewing. Plus, food is provided, and — of course — it’s free for grad students!
As a first-generation college student and a student who completed their undergraduate degree mostly online, each of these resources has made my experience at Texas State so much better. Shop Talks opened up a whole new avenue of research and degree assistance, the IRC gave me practical experience in presenting research, Graduate Student Appreciation Week was an excellent opportunity to meet other graduate students, Running With the Grad Deans improved my physical and mental wellness, and the Career Prep Networking Sessions made me feel more prepared to enter the job market. I really encourage you to take advantage of these wonderful opportunities. So, what are you waiting for? Check out all the events that The Graduate College has to offer!