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Posts Tagged ‘PDR’

When I came to Milano in the fall of 2010, I was 100% set on graduating in two years. Get in, get out, get on with serving urban black communities. I was also 100% set on getting the most out of my graduate experience – taking advantage of opportunities for personal and professional growth and enrichment. At the beginning of this semester though I found myself in a quandary – in my desire to graduate in two years and take full advantage of the graduate school experience I put more on my plate than is wise. I’m a TA for policy lab, I’m taking the second  half of Community Development Finance Lab, I’m taking Public Fiance and doing my PDR. And I’m taking Legislative Process for my last elective (good class). And I’m working.

Um…yeah.

That all seems very daunting, so I seriously considered pushing one or two classes to the fall. Of course, that would mean that I would graduate in January 2013 (degrees are conferred twice a year and there is only one graduation ceremony which is in May). I talked to several professors about trying to power through and graduate in the spring with my full load and I’ve been told that A) it’s not a great idea, but B) it’s doable.

“Doable” in the sense that there are students who work full-time and go to school full-time and seemingly have a high tolerance for stress. That’s 100% NOT the experience I wanted coming into grad school. In fact, I purposefully decided to go to school full-time (and took out required loan$) just so that I could really dive deep into my studies without being unnecessarily stressed.

Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men.

But what would I drop? Everything I’m doing has value academically, personally, and professionally.

After much thought and prayer (and a dose of you-need-to-graduate-and-get-a-job reality from my father), I decided to power through.

Is it the best decision? We’ll see. Although I love all the things I’m doing, I fear that I won’t be able to dedicate the necessary time and care that each item deserves.

But I have decided. I am moving forward. I can definitely use your prayers and support.

Onward to May!!

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Beginning Again

Another year begins as does another semester. This is my fourth semester here at Milano. It really does go by fast. It doesn’t seem fast when you first start, but when you start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, it all can start to seem like it went by quickly.

Since this is my fourth semester, I’m doing my Professional Decision Report, otherwise known as the PDR. It’s the capstone course for Milano students. You serve as a consultant for a client, which you have to get yourself. I have a meeting with my potential client tomorrow. I’m definitely looking forward to it.

This semester has the potential for me to be doing  a lot of work in Harlem, and I’m definitely looking forward to the opportunity to help and serve my community. This is why I came to grad school after all, to serve my community and my people.

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Flicker…flicker flicker. Blink.

That’s me. I don’t know if it’s a rough spot in the semester or what, but I feel like I’m burning out. This finance class (elements of finance) has really gotten to me and I want to just throw my hands up and say “I’m done.” Work is very interesting and part-time, but just because I’m not on the clock doesn’t mean there isn’ t stuff that needs to get done. Throw the TA gig on top of that, my other courses, Toastmasters, and oh yeah, my personal life. Let’s sprinkle in the search for a PDR client and the ever-encroaching employment search and we’ve got ourselves a full pot of stew!

Of course, this is the situation that I’ve chosen. I realize that. No one made me take a job, apply to be a TA, take the courses I’m taking, or go to grad school at all. Seems weird to vent/complain/stress about a situation of my own choosing. But then again most of our situations in life are of our own choosing. That’s a larger conversation so we’ll leave that point for another time. But back to grad school blues…

I think that being in the third semester of a four-semester (full-time) program probably brings a certain stress, and next semester I’m sure will bring a whole other set of stress. I just registered for spring classes today so that probably adds to the mix. As I move through this semester I’ve begun to reflect on my academic experience. It’s probably somewhat premature to do a postmortem since I’m not even 75% through the program, but at this point my classes are decided for the most part. There’s no more “ooh maybe I’ll take that class.” And since my classes are pretty set at this point, it’s easy to begin thinking about what kind of skills I’m going to graduate with. Also, for the PDR, we’re supposed to use the skills we’ve gained at Milano to produce this professional report.

At this point I’m not sure I’ve taken the right courses. I mean I’ve taken the courses that meet graduation requirments, that’s not the issue. My question is whether my course work reflects my true desires of what I want to do with my life. The reality is that choosing classes to set up your career can be much more difficult than one might think. Everyone comes to grad school with certain dreams and desires. As you gain experience and skills your original dreams and desires might change, but you don’t get more electives to balance it out. Then you start thinking about classes that you took (or are taking currently) that maybe you weren’t/aren’t really into and you question it. Then the program might offer some brand new elective that wasn’t available when you came in, and you have to figure out if you can use your precious remaining credits on it – and if it meets your interests better than the course track you’ve already planned out during previous semesters. Just to spice it up, there may be a tension between getting tools (hard skills courses like finance) to courses that are just interesting but don’t necessarily provide you with a marketable skill (other than reading and writing). So in a way the academic experience is a negotiation between past, present, and future selves.

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