The Advisor/Advisee Relationship – GradHacker Edition

11/10/2011 § Leave a comment

This post is written by GradHacker writers and is part of our crossover week, check out Hack Library School’s advice about advisor/advisee relations on their blog here: GradHacker.

In graduate school, creating the perfect advisor/advisee relationship can be a daunting if not impossible task. Trent, Cory and Katy give their advice on navigating this relationship: find someone who you can work with, be proactive, and be explicit about what you want out of grad school.

Trent: The most important advice I could ever give anyone about advisors regards compatibility: If your relationship with your advisor is rocky, or you don’t feel you’re compatible, then you need to change advisors. You shouldn’t worry about ramifications if you change. If they are professional, then they’ll understand and encourage you to do so. A good advisor will have something academically in common with you, urge you to seek out classes you’re interested in, that pertain to you thesis or dissertation, and that will get you closer to graduating.

Cory: The advisor/advisee relationship can stressful, nurturing, or non-existent.  I think it is easy as grad students to forget that our own attitudes can often shape this relationship.  For example, when I started my Master’s program, my advisor was a Shakespearean scholar (I was researching post-colonialism!) who retired halfway through my program and who I met with only once.  My bad attitude about the seemingly poor match up really meant that I lost out on a year of advising with someone who could’ve pointed me in the right direction, helped me find resources, or just be a mentor (albeit with different research interests).

The relationship with your advisor is definitely a two-way street, and while we are incredibly busy, we need to keep in mind that our professors are as well.  Now, I try to be more proactive about talking with my advisor.  For me, it was also important to build a friendly rapport on a personal level–I need to know that my advisor is human.  This help me foster understanding so that when I’m stressed out about something in my personal life, I can also cut them slack when they’re behind on something because of a stressor in their personal life.

Again, it is important to gauge what kind of advisor you have while figuring out how you work best.  Sometimes you really don’t have a choice about your advisor if your field of specialization dictates whom you work with–make sure you find an outlet for a professor who you do connect with on various levels.  There are plenty of people in your department who will be able to mentor you unofficially if that personality type is what you need to keep on track.

Katy: Having a good relationship with your advisor is key to success not only in your department, but also in your future. As Cory noted, this is a two way street. Your advisor is there to guide you through the process of getting your graduate degree, so you need to be proactive in using them as a resource. However, they are not the sole source of knowledge and advice on pursuing your degree. You need to be clear with your advisor about what you want to study and the type of career you want in the end. To get the advice that will be most helpful you need to be explicit about your goals so that your advisor can help you out.

It’s also important to realize that your advisor may not have all the answers. It is beneficial in some cases to have a number of different mentors in addition to your advisor. Not all professors have the same knowledge about what the job market is like today, or how research is proceeding in certain areas. By expanding beyond the advice of a single advisor you are able to make more informed decisions. Advisors are not infallible, so it’s better to get advice from a diversity of sources. In the end it is your decision to make whether it pleases your advisor or not. You need to be explicit about what you want, strategic in choosing which advice to take and follow the path that is going to fit with your ambitions.

HackLibSchool, meet GradHacker.

10/10/2011 § 5 Comments


I am pleased and honored to introduce something special that we are doing this week. We will be working with our colleagues over at GradHacker in a collaborative blog post-a-thon. Here at HackLibSchool you’ll be reading posts from some GradHacker writers, while we will be posting over there this week. Aside from a fun project, there is some depth here and a very important reason that this makes sense.

1. Library School students often get caught in library land and forget to think outside LIS. Actually, I think this is endemic of our field, and it needs to change. Collaboration across fields, ideas, disciplines, job titles, places of employment is what will define the future of information and its value to the world and librarians need to be on that boat. GradHacker has a great variety of interests and fields represented, and here at HLS we’ve tried to do the same, but only within LIS (finally an archivists point of view, but what about historians, engineers, archeologists, physicists?)

Collaboration is(will be) the currency of the information economy.

2. We are all grad students. Again, I hate to think I’ve perpetuated this even with the name of this blog, we, students in LIS programs, seem to get an identity crisis and think of ourselves as “library school students” and forget that we are also and more so grad students. There is a lot to unpack there that is related to questions of professionalization of our field, but as graduate students in Universities we have important ideas that are enlightened and useful for conversations and discussions around the academy. We are graduate students. Think, act, write, read, interact and explore like a grad student. It will raise our opinion of ourselves, and others’ opinions of us.

3. Technology allows and promotes us to have conversations in public with peers, colleagues and intellectuals. That is the driving force behind HackLibSchool, and GradHacker, and it is our duty and joy to take advantage of these conversations.

That said, I am very happy to welcome the GradHackers to our blog. Once you finish reading their posts here, go subscribe to their blog. Better yet, go write for them. Linked below are some recent posts I really enjoyed:

Be Nice to Yourself

How to Read a Book

Review Guide: Software for Digital Image Archiving

They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Personal note – I had the pleasure of meeting Katy and Alex, the lead editors of GradHacker, at THATCamp back in June. Aside from us all being intimidated by hanging around with every single Digital Humanities rockstar ever, we had some great conversations about grad school, blogging, scholarship in the digital age and life in general. They’re great, fascinating people (they study mortuary archaeology and Argentinean soccer! COMON!) and I am happy to support this project that they have taken on.

Subsidized Loans: A Relic of Our Past?

05/08/2011 § 26 Comments

Student Protests at the University of Vienna

The other day, when I found out that graduate student aid had been heavily hit by the budget deal struck by Congress, the only thing I could think to tweet as I shared a link on the topic was “you’ve let students down.” The tweet came somewhat out of fear for my own financial future, but mostly for that of my fellow students. I am fortunate in that I have an assistantship and am pursuing a PhD (which can, potentially, open doors to new funding sources than I could access during my MLS, although I doubt people will be banging down my door and hurling money at me.) However, having just completed that degree, I remember what a struggle it was to track down funding outside of student loans and what a blessing subsidized loans and deferred payments were for me. It made it possible for me to go to school, and I suspect the same is true for many HLS readers. With that in mind, I thought I would devote my post to talking about the changes in student loans, the little bit of sense I can make of it, and how it might impact graduate education.

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