The doctoral experience is rife with minefields and potholes and all other kinds of things you don’t want to step in.
It’s important to be politically savvy in order to make your way to the other side of this experience.
1. Are you writing for your dissertation advisor? If you’re not writing for your dissertation advisor, then for whom? Unless you’ve had an irreparable rupture with your advisor, and maybe not even then, write for your advisor. Many problems can be averted by recognizing that your dissertation advisor is both your audience and the gatekeeper.
2. Avoid finger pointing. What if your research isn’t coming to much? If your advisor has an investment in that research and you feel that it’s coming to a dead end, assume blame (without being transparent and pathetic). This isn’t a time to alienate your advisor. Be smart.
3. Put yourself in a public place where you can shine. Consider giving a talk at a graduate forum or a gathering that your advisor nd perhaps other professors in your department attend. Don’t be afraid of the questions that will be raised because generating a great discussion among those gathered is a place for you to score big or sort of big. It can work wonders in how your advisor looks at you and how you look at yourself.
4. No sighing; no whining. Try to be positive, both about your work and about your relationship with your advisor. Particularly when you talk with her or email her. Try to take energy from a positive thought or place. This isn’t the time to roll your eyes or sigh. (I’m right there with you in controlling the sighing—I sigh far too much. Try to sigh only in private.) You want her to gather that helping you now will be good for both for you. If for no other reason, helping you now will get you off her back!
5. Ask for what you want. Don’t assume that your advisor won’t help you get a postdoc or that she won’t introduce you to the big guns or muckety-mucks in your field or that she won’t talk strategies. Just because you haven’t had such discussions with her doesn’t mean she wouldn’t be interested in helping you.
What strategy have you used with your advisor that surprised you in the good way it turned out, particularly one that would upend any suggestion I’ve made here?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Nancy Whichard, PhD, PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach
P.S. It’s not too late to sign up for my Smart Tips newsletter—go to www.nancywhichard.com.