How I am Surviving my PhD Program
I am almost two years into my Social Work PhD program at Boston University. Time flies! Since I am reaching the end of my coursework, I wanted to share how I am making it through the program successfully.
Self-Care I first learned this term when I was getting my Masters in Social Work, and I thought it was silly because all of my professors kept stressing self-care, make sure you practice self-care. Now I understand why-the field of Social Work is grueling, and in order to avoid burnout, you need to find something outside of your work that can help center you. For me, it has been exercise. I try to get to the gym four-five times a week, and it really helps keep my stress levels down.
Advocacy This has also been important because I have needed to advocate for myself on several occasions to get what I need out of my program. No program is perfect, and it is better to speak up then to miss out on an opportunity. Your educational experience is partially what you make it, so I have found it to be crucial in keeping me going.
Organization There are many things to juggle in a PhD program, and you can easily get overwhelmed if you don’t have a system. I find that using an online calendar has been a life saver because I get reminders to my phone about the tons of things I have to do. Being organized for me also lowers my stress levels because there are no surprises.
Perseverance I am sure many of you know that pursuing a PhD means you are in it for the long haul, so that is why it takes some level of perseverance to get through it. Even if you hit a roadblock or obstacle, you cannot give up or let that discourage you. The good thing is that when you finish, the payoff will be worth the hard work.
Flexibility I have also learned that things can change at the last minute all the time during the program, and you have to be willing to go with the flow sometimes. It shouldn’t always feel like nothing is planned or set in stone, but from time to time you may have to place a research project on hold or go a different path with your class project, etc.
The most important thing with any experience is to try to have fun! This is a once in a lifetime experience that not many people will be able to say they have had, so enjoy the ride and don’t over do it!