Tech Grad Students Share 9 Tips for Success

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Article by Autumn Siebold Your advisor is telling you to prioritize research, while your parents have told you to make coursework your focus. Then, there’s your significant other telling you to find more work-life balance. Everyone seems to have advice, but what strategies are really going to help you find success at Georgia Tech? With the end of the semester in sight, we wanted to take some of the guesswork out of the process and went straight to the people who know — your fellow Tech grad students. Read on for their top nine tips and our resource recommendations to help you put their advice into action.
  1. “Don’t isolate yourself. Go out with the students and postdocs in your department, or get a group together and take a weekend drive. Don't just do this once. Do it as many times as your schedule will allow." – Joshua Bakin, City and Regional Planning Ph.D. student Our Recommendation: Take a day trip out of Atlanta, and check out spots like  the mountains in Helen, Ga., or the beaches of Tybee Island, Ga. Check out this article for more ideas.
  2. “Start planning your career path now. The most successful students I've known think about it early versus push it off to the semester before graduation.” – Kong Wong, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Ph.D. student Our Recommendation: Start being proactive about career planning ASAP by doing things like creating a LinkedIn account and setting up an appointment with one of the Center for Career Discovery and Development graduate career advisors to discuss next steps. Also, be sure to attend the annual Career, Research, and Innovation Development Conference for graduate students Jan. 27-28, 2020.
  3. “Set aside some time every week for social activities, just like you would set aside time to study or go to class. For example, join an Atlanta community group like the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition, or plan a weekly TV show/movie night with people from your lab.” – Rebecca Berge, Business Administration master’s student Our Recommendation: Aside from the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition and other community groups, there are plenty of fun things to do with your friends right on campus — like visiting Tech Rec in the Student Center. There’s bowling, video games, and it’s free for all students on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  4. “Develop a passion for your research early on. You’re going to be working with that topic for years, so you really want it to be something that drives you. Make sure your topic is something you’re passionate about by talking about it to others. If you can have fun explaining what you’re doing to someone else, chances are it’s something you’ll enjoy long term.” – William Sealy, Robotics Ph.D. student Our Recommendation: Learn how to effectively share your research with others by signing up for the annual Three Minute Thesis Competition. Students who participate are challenged to summarize their research into a three-minute presentation that anyone could understand (a skill that will last you long after you finish your degree program). To get an idea of what the competition entails, come to the final round of the 2019 competition on Thursday, Nov. 14, at 6 p.m.
  5. “Try to get involved with an organization on campus, it'll help you meet new people. I got to meet people with different backgrounds when I joined the India Club and the Graduate Student Government Association, which I think has helped shape who I am now.” – Prachi Patwardan, Computer Science master’s student Our Recommendation: Check out Engage @ Georgia Tech for information on all the student organizations Tech has to offer. 
  6. “Don't forget to take time to do something that makes you happy. It could be swimming at the CRC or going for a hike. Doing activities that get you away from grad school gives your brain a break and helps to relieve stress."    – Elaine Rhoades, Physics Ph.D. student Our Recommendation: Try Mindful Mondays, offered by the Office of Health Initiatives. Every Monday, from 4 to 5 p.m. in the Student Center, you can drop by to learn mindfulness exercises to help you relax. 
  7. “Reach out and connect with new people at Tech. There are so many cool, multidisciplinary projects going on in other departments that don't get advertised. Collaboration with researchers in other departments leads to real innovation.” – Jacob Payne, Aerospace Engineering master’s student Our Recommendation: Connect with other researchers by checking out your school’s annual research symposiums. These symposiums offer a chance to present your research and learn about other projects. For example, the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering holds theirs in February, while the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences holds theirs in March. Typically, you can find this information on your school’s events page.
  8. “Make sure you enjoy what Tech and Atlanta have to offer, both academically and for personal enrichment. Your best resources are your own feet, your eyes, and your ears. Actively exploring and getting lost does a lot for personal development.” – Edward Nguyen, Mechanical Engineering master’s student Our Recommendation: Getting out to explore Atlanta can be daunting, but we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite spots. Check out this article for some great places to get started.
  9. “Understand that self-care and good time management are important, because if you don’t balance life during grad school, things get overwhelming.” – Aline Banboukian, Public Policy Ph.D. student Our Recommendation: For guidance on how to keep work and life balanced, check out these time management tips from the Center for Academic Success
For more academic and campus life resources, check out Plus, be sure to “like” the Grad Studies Facebook page to stay updated on grad student news and events.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: asiebold3
  • Created: 10/25/2019
  • Modified By: Amelia Pavlik
  • Modified: 10/29/2019

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