Monday, September 17, 2007

Dear First-Year Grad Students,

Oh, you're so adorable. So young and doe-eyed. So naïve. (Such twiggy little people… are you old enough to be in grad school?)

If you're here just because you dream of a faculty job, GO HOME. Only 30% of postdocs find faculty jobs. And 20% of grads don't postdoc. You do the math.

But if you love science and want to do research, good for you! Write that down and tape it to your mirror. You'll need the daily reminder.

Your Snooty U classes have started. You suffer from the delusion that they matter. Children, no-one will see your grades (except fellowship applications.) Aside from that? Nobody cares. Also, you will forget everything irrelevant to your thesis. Get a passing grade and move the hell on.

The dean just sent you an email about teaching. That highfalutin' talk about how it's such a great opportunity, and you should have the chance to give a lecture, and meet with faculty for fabulous feedback? Hah. (Ha ha ha. Ha. Excuse me for a moment; I may choke.) That bit about how you mustn't Xerox things or do grunt work? Hah. Welcome to science education at an R1! 200 iterations of 'Will this be on the test?', followed by grading 180 bad wrong answers. We recommend drinking; it dulls the pain.

If you expect the undergrads to be bright eager little beavers, think again. They're good at memorizing! Don't ask them to think too hard; it overheats the brain.

You're about to start rotations! How exciting. Some of you are clever enough to ask grad students what labs are like. (Here's a hint: the PIs don't know.) Some of you are even intelligent enough to believe us. The rest of you think 'Oh, they're so old and bitter, I'll never be like that.' Riiiiight.

You think it doesn't matter how your advisor treats you- only the science matters, and personal interactions don’t. WRONG! Your advisor gets to say when you leave! He can support you when you want to quit, or make you want to quit more. You'll have years to learn this one, kiddos!

It's so cute how you work 80 hours a week. (Gag.) Here's a hint: this will not make you graduate in 4 years. Only extreme luck can do that. Besides, your rotations are useless. Don't waste your time. Effort and graduation do not scale together, my dears. Work until 6 and GO HOME.

Are you seeing a theme here?

Now go have a drink and lighten up.


Jenny F. Scientist
Brickmason Extraordinaire
B.A, B.A., M.S.
(6th year, Snooty U PhD Candidate)