Time to Graduate: The do’s and (equally important) don’ts!
By Ruben Hampsink.
As a relatively new student, the prospect of graduation might not be on your mind now. However, there will come a time when you have successfully completed all your courses, and you are ready to bring your academic journey to a close. As a graduated IEM bachelor and (almost) graduated master student, I have quite some experiences of graduating and writing a thesis. In this Stress Stories I will provide you with essential do’s but also as equally important don’ts to help you navigate through this period. It will hopefully spare you from some challenges I faced.
The journey towards your graduation typically starts with finding a research location and topic. This phase can sometimes be hard, especially when you start the search too late. The first and obvious tip I can offer is to start the search well in advance.
In my experience, it is even more important to know where and how to search for these graduation positions. There are so many ways to find your assignment. One of the easiest ways, but too often overlooked, is the Canvas page. It provides a list of completely formulated assignments waiting for you to be picked out. Furthermore, do not underestimate the power of your network. You can seek out research suggestions from your family, friends, and most crucially, your fellow students. After all, every student is or has been on the quest for their research spot. Your fellow students’ rejected options might be the assignment that aligns perfectly with your interests. Or as in my case, you could continue with the research of a graduated student. And of course, the World Wide Web offers many recruitments and ‘work-at’ website. However, it is essential to be aware that the response time varies significantly, so exercise patience in your (online) search.
During the search you also must keep in mind what YOU want. It is important to have a graduation assignment that lays in your field of interest. This keeps you also motivated in times that you struggle. And I can assure you that this will happen (multiple times). In my case it was useful to list the courses I liked and write down interesting research topics before I started my search. The essay page of the UT continues an infinite amount of research topics.
Once you find your assignment, it is time to formulate your research steps and scope. Be clear in what you are going to do and what you leave out of the research. Bear in mind, that every adjustment to the scope results in additional work. From my own experience I can say that even a small manageable change can result in (sometimes minor) changes in other parts of the research. Keep in mind that you are still a student and not a full-paid employee. The highest priority for you is to finalize YOUR thesis.
Throughout your research, you have regular meetings with your UT and company supervisors. It is important to remember that these individuals have their own busy schedules. To ensure productive and efficient collaboration, it is advisable to schedule your meetings well in advance, even if you are unsure of how much time you need before the next meeting. This ensures that you do not have to wait for one another.
Once you have successfully completed your research, it is certainly time to celebrate. However, it is equally important to acknowledge and celebrate your smaller victories throughout the research. While doing so, you must involve both those directly and indirectly associate with your research. This approach keeps your supervisors motivated and interested. In the end, they dedicate their time to you. Additionally, also involve your family and friends. It may surprise you that someone outside of your research circle offers valuable insights and solutions to the challenges you face.
At the end of the day, remember that your graduation period can be both challenging and rewarding. By staying organized, managing your time effectively, and taking care of yourself, you can make the most of this important phase in your academic journey. I hope you find one or more of these tips useful and make your graduation journey more successful and enjoyable!