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What differentiates a dedicated PhD student?

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What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 01 Apr 2008, 17:13
Hey guys, I am a long time lurker, first time poster. I just got into the MIS PhD program. The forum has been a great help for me through out my application process. Thanks to all the contributors! I have another question for you guys from a fresher's point of view:

What differentiates a dedicated PhD student from the average one? From your experiences so far, what advise would you give to a fresher that will enable him/her to excel?

Thanks!
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2008, 06:05
Talk about an open ended question :wink: .

This is the one case when the Lake Wobegon effect holds true - all PhD students are dedicated.
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2008, 06:10
bauble wrote:
Talk about an open ended question :wink: .

This is the one case when the Lake Wobegon effect holds true - all PhD students are dedicated.



oops! I didn't realize the question was open ended :wink:

What if I reframe it like this: What are some mistakes/pitfalls that one should avoid so that he/she excels in the program?

Is it easier to answer now?
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2008, 09:07
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I've been told:
-Do the grunt work, nothing is beneath you.
-Class grades don't make or break you (as long as it's at least a B). Research experience is what matters.
-Don't take too long to get your PhD.
-Start networking as soon as you can. Research teams are what make your career.
-Almost as a paradox, also be prepared to be very much alone.
-Pace yourself. It's nice to be the best and greatest, but the field is also replete with brilliant individuals who got to full professorship in their early 30s and died a few months later.
-Enjoy yourself!
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 02 Apr 2008, 11:43
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Excellent tips. Here are some other ones.

- Grades don't matter, true enough, but make a good impression on your faculty. This is a tough one, because they, unlike managers/peers in industry, get more at your "true" self, how nice and smart you are, rather than, for example, how "savvy" you are and how well you can play the politics. Just be confident but modest, assertive but not showy. Piece of cake, eh? Reason is that when you go on the job market, they will back you if they think you are good.

- The networking point is also a nice one. I don't see this as an MBA, show me your business card and handmade suit and lets trade frat stories type of networking. It's really about connecting personally and intellectually with people who will benefit your (and you their) academic career (e.g. by co-authoring). For many people going into a Ph.D., this will be a very new experience because they may never have had an opportunity to collaborate that closely with such a diverse set of people. I've had the good fortune to be able to do this, and I think it has been very helpful. I'd encourage people facing this to be proactive in reaching out, e.g., if you have a choice between an all (pick your country) study group vs. a diverse one, think seriously about choosing the latter even if it is initially more uncomfortable.
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2008, 08:36
-Making a good impression. Also, I think it's important to not come across as a Young Turk out to change the world/redefine the field/shake the very core of research. Be someone who wants to refine the field, take it in new and exciting directions, etc... i.e. be positive, but definitely not showy.

-Networking. This actually ties in with the above. Academia is probably one of the few fields where sheer intellect will be able to earn you some friends (in the loosest sense of the word), rather than being savvy and politic. Throwing your cards around like shurikens is probably the worst thing you can do. Instead, engage people in conversation. TALK to them at conferences or wherever you meet them. You never know when an email/phone jolted down on a napkin will launch your research career.

-Speaking of which, it's never too early to start going to conferences.
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2008, 09:18
Thanks Kumbaya and Bauble for your replies. Kumbaya, can you please expand a little more on Networking? Do you mean networking within the school and/or outside the school also?

Thanks!
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 03 Apr 2008, 18:01
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Network wherever and with whoever you can. If you can find somebody in your program you can work with in the future, that's great. But networking outside of your school will also be beneficial, probably even more so, with less of the "inbreeding", as one of my profs likes to put it.
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Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student? [#permalink] New post 10 Apr 2008, 11:07
[quote="Kumbaya"] Throwing your cards around like shurikens is probably the worst thing you can do. quote]

Too funny.
Re: What differentiates a dedicated PhD student?   [#permalink] 10 Apr 2008, 11:07
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