SERIES: Transition to Grad School Like a Pro
Melody Modarressi is a current Ph.D. student in biology. While attending graduate school, Modarressi also works as a graduate teaching assistant as part of the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need Fellowship under the U.S. Department of Education. This involves working as a teaching assistant each semester while balancing research and coursework. She expects to graduate Spring 2025.
We followed up with Modarressi to get her insight and advice for new Georgia Tech graduate students.
Find a mentor. “Play an active role in selecting your mentors,” said Modarressi. “While your research advisor is an invaluable resource, I wish I had realized sooner that I could also reach out to other faculty and more senior graduate students in my home school to answer my many questions."
Mentorship is an integral part of the graduate student experience, so don’t be afraid to reach out if you think there is potential for a mutually beneficial and professional relationship to be made.
Utilize a few key Georgia Tech resources. “The Georgia Tech Career Center has some great resources available that can be helpful no matter what stage you’re at within your program,” said Modarressi. “I also highly recommend the Center for Mental Health Care and Resources and its services, which have been crucial to me as I progress through my time at Tech. Lastly, the on-campus art studio, Paper and Clay, is a great place to blow off some steam and provide a creative outlet when not working.”
Be self-motivated. “One of the biggest adjustments for me was learning to manage my time,” said Modarressi. “My undergrad was very structured so there was little need to be intentional with my planning because most things were predetermined by my department. Graduate school has taught me the value of self-motivation in determining how I use my limited time during the duration of my program.”
Pave your way. “While my advisors and home school offer some guidance and resources, I have realized that I am ultimately responsible for paving my way through graduate school and, therefore, have the power to make this experience what I want it to be,” said Modarressi. “I felt overwhelmed by this power initially, but I have since improved my time management skills with practice and now feel much more in control of my time and energy, a must for maintaining a healthy work-life balance during graduate school.”
Make time for yourself. “Step back and find enjoyment outside of campus life is key to staying motivated and excited about your program,” said Modarresi.