[This is a guest post by Katy Meyers, a graduate student in the department of anthropology at Michigan State University. She also writes regularly on bioarchaeology and mortuary archaeology news at her site<BonesDontLie.com>; you can follow her on Twitter: @bonesdonotlie. She is also the editor of <GradHacker.org>, which can be found on Twitter (@GradHacker) and on FaceBook.]
Let’s not sugar coat this, grad school is tough. Grad students are expected not only to ace their full course load, but also to teach classes, apply for funding, attend departmental events, present at conferences, publish their writing, and continue their own research. Never mind the fact that grad students are also trying to maintain a balance between the 80-hour work week and their personal lives. Many grads are also getting married, having kids or simply trying to have friends external to their research. Grad students are stuck between being part of the faculty, but also being a student, in what has been called the “grad student limbo.” The expectations and requirements of earning a graduate degree are unique, so it can be tough for family and friends to understand what you are going through or to give advice on what to do.
But you are not alone. There are thousands of graduate students who are also dealing with the challenges of post-secondary education. It was with this in mind that the idea of GradHacker began. It started out as an idea among the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative fellows at Michigan State University to create a bootcamp to educate our peers on how to use social media to help out in an academic career. The camp was set up around roundtable discussions of Twitter, Gravatar, WordPress, Zotero and other platforms. The response was overwhelmingly positive, and the bootcamp was a success. The question was, how do we continue to connect grad students together to help each other solve some of the unique challenges we face? The answer was GradHacker.
GradHacker is a collaborative blog for grad students, by grad students. Our contributing authors are all graduate students from a variety of universities and disciplines. We are always accepting new authors or guest posts from any grad student in any university. We are dedicated to creating a community of grads who can benefit from hearing the stories, tips, and challenges of others who are experiencing the same things. The topics that we will tackle are just as varied as the individuals who are writing them, and while the original idea for this spawned from the goal of teaching other grads about technology to ease their lives and help with networking, we want to expand the idea of ‘hacking’ to all aspects of grad life. Posts discuss topics such as raising kids in grad school, how to propose a digital dissertation to your committee, how to volunteer in grad school, the basics of twitter, strategies for being a teaching assistant, and even healthy recipes.
While the original concept for the blog was created from a bootcamp, GradHacker has been inspired and supported by a wide range of individuals and programs. Our original inspiration was drawn from ProfHacker and we continue to hold them as the exemplar. Without their original articles on hacking academic life such as Brian Croxall’s “Open Letter to Graduate Students” and Miriam Posner’s “Creating Your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics,” we would never have been able to create our own bootcamp focusing on graduate scholars. We are grateful to them for their articles, which have aided us in our careers. Our hope is that we can use what we have learned from them and apply it directly to graduate lives.
Throughout this process of creating GradHacker we have received support from Ethan Watrall and the entire MATRIX staff, and are grateful for everything they have done.
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