Monday, May 28, 2012

My de facto advisor

Sam is still just a committee member on paper, but is without question my advisor. Since I came back from my last trip to Ukenzagapia in November, I think that Sam and I have been working together especially well. I am more comfortable with him now that I understand his personality and communication style, and most importantly, I know that I'm not a disappointment to him.

There have been a few snippets of conversation that we've had recently that have reiterated to me that he respects me as a colleague.

Before Sam left for a trip to Ukenzagapia, we were talking about what's going on with the database.
Sam: "So, if anything happens to me while I'm in Ukenzagapia, you know what to do, right?"
Me: "What do you mean?"
Sam: "Like if the plane crashes or something."
Me: "Oh! You mean if something catastrophic happens do I know how to continue the database project without you? Yes."

Two things are notable about this exchange: 1) He wants the project to continue even if he dies, and 2) He thinks I can do it.

Then when we were meeting with the interns, Sam said, "You can basically think of Karina and I as one person, professionally." That was a little weird, but I think the sentiment was that whatever I say holds the same authority as what he says.

I've recognized recently that some of his weaknesses are some of my strengths, and he appreciates that. For example, he's not very tech-savvy so I'm always teaching him better ways to do things. I also think I'm more careful and detail-oriented than him in many circumstances.

I foresee continuing to collaborate with him for quite a long time, especially since the database project is a long-term kind of thing. This is all to say that I'm quite happy with my professional relationship with Sam right now.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Deciding to finish

I had some great conversations with friends from my interdisciplinary cohort, all of whom are already finished with or finishing their degrees at UBC. I've been on a 6-year plan for most of grad school, and soon I'll be starting that 6th year. That means I should be thinking about finishing. But I have to say, right now I feel like I have more than a year's worth of work remaining. I asked my friends for advice.

The best answer? You have to decide to finish. Many people think they'll know when they get there, and they just keep working, thinking they need a little more (or perhaps their advisor thinking they need more), and they continue on. Both of my friends who finished were extremely driven and they both dealt with advisors who dragged their feet one way or another, but they were committed to finishing by a certain time, and they made it happen.

I think I'm at the point where I need to decide that I am going to be finished one year from now. Oh my gosh, I got chills down my spine when I typed that. Ok, so maybe it will be June or July or August next year, but I need to decide that I will finish in 2013.

There. I said it. I've decided. One year left.