Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Graduate School Recap

In 2009, I set out to earn my Master's Degree in Publication Management from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I really had no idea what that meant at the time and still am a bit unclear. This journey has been intersting to say the least. As I reflect back on the crazyness that was my graduate school experience, I offer the following advice for anyone who is considering the same route.

Lessons from the Classroom
• E-books are important. They have revolutionized the publishing industry. Blah Blah Blah.
• Amazon and iTunes are evil. Blah blah blah.
• Self-published books are not really ‘books’ blah blah blah
• Self-published authors are no-talent hacks with no merit.
• Rhetoric is a term only used by people who think rhetoric matters and those people usually only exist in the academic bubble. See also “discourse”. 
• Adobe Creative Suite is really powerful software than can really advance your skills and value in the workplace…. But we’re not going to teach you how to use it
• Social media is either the best thing ever or the end of civilization.

Lesssons in PowerPoint
Having successfully linked websites and audio for a presentation is incredibly difficult for anyone over the age of 40.
• PowerPoint is the only way to communicate with professors
• The student who asks the most questions during a PowerPoint is also the most likely to have an obnoxiously long PowerPoint Presentation.
• The formatting, background and graphics of your presentation sometimes matter more than your content.
• Preparing a comprehensive presentation about a 20 page article that only lasts 5 or 10 minutes is simply not possible. The professor will schedule all 15 students to give 10 minute presentations and then get pissy when everyone goes over and class is late.
• Classmates will read your inbox if you have emailed the presentation to yourself or use Google Docs.
• Wikipedia is a credible source only when used in a presentation from the department chair.

Lessons in Caffeine
The Starbucks on 34th and Chestnut is superior to the Starbucks on campus. It’s worth leaving 20 minutes earlier than truly necessary in order to have enough time to get a caffeine fix before class.
• The vending machines on campus are probably more technically advanced and powerful than the computers the professors use.

Lessons from/for Classmates
The appropriate pronoun for transgendered persons is Xee and if you don’t know this, you’re an insensitive prick. Apparently.
• Class time is not or should not be time to vent your latest woes or work-related frustrations. Save it for happy hour, please.
• Some students are much more intelligent and diligent than others. Some are more talkative and some are more argumentative. If you recognize this, you can have a very constructive experience and gain more from the discussions than the curriculums. In some cases, classmates may have more relevent experience than the professor in certain areas.
• Graduate school is a very good networking opportunity. Classmates get other classmates jobs at their companies and shared really good career advice. Most of the professors either work in the publishing industry or used to and have ties to the employment opportunities. So, don’t wear sweatpants to class, don’t yell at other classmates, don’t snark at your professors, and do not dismiss the achievements or insights of your classmates. I’ve met several people I’d hire in an instant and some that I’d blacklist…if I had the power.

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