Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Things They Don't Tell You About Grad School, Part 6: Done Right, It's A Job

In lab where I sit, the biggest insult that you can level against someone is "you're treating this like undergrad."  What is implied is that you show up right before class, leave right after class, and only do what is required for class.  A very undergrad approach to education.

What is expected is physical presence ~ 9 am - 5 pm Monday through Friday, with bonus points for staying later (no bragging) and for showing up on one-day, and throughout multi-day, holidays.  (Put a different way by a labmate: "You should always be there because you should always have work to do - and if you don't have any, find some.")

These bonus points get you nothing but respect from your peers - but the presence gets you the graduate-level education you are there to earn.  Because the peers know what I have come to know:

Most of a grad school education happens between classes.

A very astute counseling student peer of mine recently texted:

"Yeah, I don't know to what extent he is intimately grappling w the material.  I think counseling is one where you gotta live it too."

He is decidedly correct.  Now I pay more attention to how I interact with people and deal with my grief, loss, defensiveness, etc etc.  My natural skill of reading people was only the first, and quite a baby, step.  Spending time with people, especially counseling students, is the true crucible in which the training gets turned into practical skill.

I volunteer to teach a high-school leadership academy, which is taught in a group counseling setting, and the entirety of each 40 minute session, I have my group counseling professor's voice in my head. I'm living my group class, which I'm taking this semester, three times: once in person, once in practice, and once in my head during that practice.

The same crucible exists for physiology.  Part of my physiology lab experience is co-habitating with a Starbucks, but another part is sitting around a talking about physiology.  I've participated in an hour long conversation about when people breathe out during breast stroke.  I've been labmates' lab rat.  I've been out getting drinks to celebrate a lab mate finishing his quals and ended up talking about statistical analysis and prediction of athletic performance.  You know, like normal people do on a Saturday night.

And as I write this post, I am exchanging texts with a member of my counseling cohort and we are strategizing how we would hypothetically treat another cohort member of ours if he came to us as a client saying that his social mannerism that grate on us, were causing him trouble in dating.  You know, like normal people do on a Thursday afternoon.

Except that, when I have a "real" job, that is exactly what I will be doing on a Thursday afternoon.  Might as well start doing it now.

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