Posts Tagged ‘tired’

It’s a steady push to the end folks. I’m clawin’, scratchin’ and most of all prayin’ to get to the end of this semester, which officially ends tomorrow night. I still have some big assignments on the table, and challenge is daunting. After going all semester it’s important to have enough gas at the end to power through the finish line.

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Well kids, we’re at that point in the semester.


That point.

The point where you are in the mick and muck of it all and trying to push forward to see daylight with no cracks in sight.

The point where you say “oh crap” because you realize the semester is closing soon, and while that should be a good thing, you also realize that those term papers are coming due as well.

The point where it seems like due dates are stacked like Jenga and you’re trying to keep the puzzle together without having the whole thing fall apart.

Yes folks, we’re at that point.

Prayers are appreciated.

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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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Special Announcement from Kristen on behalf of myself and Eulalia: we are fine, we are just really, really, extremely, happily, very, busy and while we love all of you, we haven’t had time to write about all of our fabulous adventures over the past month. We’re sorry, but not as sorry as we’d be if things weren’t going well.

Soon, we’ll post and try to make some amends to get out of the Bloggers Doghouse.  Seriously, who knew people actually read this?  Kidding aside, thank you for your concerned emails and notes and in-person cajoling.  Much appreciated.

Eulalia and I ran into each other the other day and chatted about this (this = our blogging delinquence) and just started laughing, because, well, what else are we to do?  This has been a very exhausting, invigorating, inspiring, and provocative term so far.  I am close to finally having a “schedule” for it, in fact.  In November.  Which means my to-do list from August is now finally finished.  In November.  Good news: I went ahead and just wrote a new list FOR November, so now I am WAY AHEAD on things like “getting a PDR client” or “my public finance midterm preparation”.  For the record, that is what we call “spin”.

I am still reading, hearing and thinking about many new ideas and skills and reflecting upon or refining some old ones.  My fellowship is finally (fingers crossed!) going to begin later this week and it looks like things are going in a good direction there; my campus job keeps me busy but feeling helpful; my classes remain interesting; every week my post-unemployment “transition” is closer to being finished and I become more articulate later into the evening.  (Here’s a “happy problem” to be aware of, you other long-term unemployed folk: when you re-enter a work routine, you may feel as though you have been hit by a truck regardless of how busy you have kept yourself.  I was running a few miles per day, practicing yoga, writing, etc, etc., and I still became a frighteningly gifted impersonator of a Valley Girl by my 6 p.m. classes. That is easing. Now I just sound like one after 7:30.)

Here’s to more of the same great fall term greatness! (But with more blogging.)

Kristen (and Eulalia)

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Growing up there were always those kids who relished the last day of school. They counted every day, hour, second until the final ringing of the bell and the opportunity to loosen the tie and to get out the ‘monkey suit’ commonly known as our school uniform.  For me I knew that summer just meant a different schedule, but structure none the less. By college I regarded summer break as the opportunity to process and store away the previous semester before returning to the trough in the Fall. Part of the beauty of having 4 years to complete undergrad is if you fall of track you have time to get back on track … or at least a summer or two to find your way back.

This June as I finished up my first semester I found myself exhausted. Mostly mentally exhausted but by proxy a little bit physically exhausted.  For my first semester I expected more reading. I expected a scheduling that would be a challenge having hoofed it from 9 to 5 for the last few years.  I expected a learning curve for writing, and most of all I expected to be physically exhausted by the end of the semester.  What I definitely didn’t expect was the group process to kick my tail. It challenged me at times, it begged me to catch up at other times and most of all by the end of the semester I realized it had enriched what I learned through the course readings.  By June I had transformed into one of those kids counting off the days to the ‘official’ start of summer.  I spent a few weeks trying to get back some semblance of my pre-grad school schedule. I spent another few weeks decompressing….and boy was that fun.  But before I knew it I was hit with the panic.

For the full time (2 year program) student you have one summer to make sure you haven’t fallen off track, aren’t about to fall off track or to figure out what your track should be. Many, arguably most paid internships take place during the summer (corporations/organizations use paid internships geared towards grad students as a stop gap on projects during the summer months when salaried employees are often using vacation time). Besides the internship route summer makes an excellent time for figuring out post program fellowships.  By the time I decompressed and before I knew it…it was July and I had 35 days  left  to summer.

Of course by July most paid internships are gone. While I’ve squandered part of my summer and have lost some internship opportunities I’ve been plugging away with figuring out the post-school-fellowship-thing. Also to make sure I am on track to finish up strong in my program I have been reworking my resume, updating my interview skills, working references, looking for spring or (next) summer internship opportunities that I will be able to parlay into employment opportunities …. cause the job market is no joke.  While summer is about decompressing it is more about keeping focus for year 2 and staying on track to capitalize on the grad school experience.

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We’re gearing up to complete our final exams, turn in the PDR’s, and cheer for some of you terribly lucky, hard-working and deserving people as you graduate.  Quite a hectic couple of weeks, no?

To that end, I hope that everyone stays as calm as possible as we near the Big Finish.  I will not be taking a course this summer, and as the job hunt continues, I will also be working on some creative writing projects that have been put on the back burner for far too long.  I can’t afford to travel, sadly, so I’ll leave it to some of you to do so and report back.

Good luck–and I’ll be back soon as we wish two of our bloggers a fond farewell.  :(

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It’s been three weeks since classes started, but it feels closer to three months. The hardest thing so far has been finding a schedule that works for both the personal and the school stuff as well as realizing many of the great talks on campus happen while I’m in class during the evenings. As a Year One my schedule consists of schoolwide and program core courses and so far it’s been a mixed blessing. The biggest benefit has been the heavy concentration of other Year Ones in the classes, this has served to take off some of the hesitation about being vocal during class for fear of sounding  ‘stupid’.  On the other hand having core courses have given me mixed feelings about the collection of courses I am taking this semester. By far the most difficult course for me this semester is my economics class. Initially I was considering taking Quantitative Methods, but after the student panel during orientation I decided to go with the economics core course – Economics for Management and Public Policy.  Part of the difficulty lies in having the dominant part of my grade determined by the midterm and the final (80 percent), with homework and classroom participation making up the remainder of the grade. Essentially, it’s a microeconomics course and while supply and demand may work for widgets and widget consultancies, it is hard to map that on to the nonprofit sector which is essentially answering the need for services that the for profit sector was unable to find a profit driven response too….

By far my favorite course has been Making a Difference: Global, Organizational and Individual Perspectives of Social Change.  This class demands my engagement and then once engaged it smacks me around a bit … just to send me out into the school week a little pissed (which is a good thing). The readings test my base knowledge and understanding of critical thought while giving me enough gristle to wrestle with the stuff I don’t know yet. This is one of the rare classes over my college career (both undergrad and grad) that I’ve found myself looking for other readings to supplement the assignments for the week because I want to be better prepared for the class.

As it stands my Theory and Practice of NonProfit Management class is my least favorite course this semester. Essentially, it’s a survey course and I believe for me after 5 solid years of nonprofit experience I was looking for more ‘theory’ and less ‘practice’. We read …. we talk…[we are] getting bored and it’s only week four. Hopefully, the professor will recognize the lack of participation as a cry for help and will shift to meet our needs.

The tally thus far for reading (in pages): 114 (week 1), 201 (week 2), and 234 (week 3)….


PS  – I’ve added a couple of pics from this week’s ‘snow day’….school was canceled which was good for me (as my new notebook was delivered) but was a dud for the snow enthusiasts. NYC only received 8-9 inches while my hometown of Philly (a 2-hour drive away) is sitting in 88 inches worth of snow (over the course of back to back weekend snow sessions).

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Yes, my friends, that is where your faithful pals and colleagues have been in policy-land: sick and very very tired.

Word of warning: there are now so many rhinoviruses (sounds more menacing than “germs”, doesn’t it?) floating around the Milano building that I would not blink if the heretofore unaffected started sporting scary spaceman outfits, so as to avoid the pestilence.

Maybe my perspective is skewed (entirely plausible, since I am really going only on personal and anecdotal evidence, as well as, you know, Facebook) but first we hit the wall of tired, and then fell limply to a pile of kleenex.  Or something.  Basically, we’re all working 24/7 with our groups, assembling research (even when you know that you don’t have time to do more, there are always these tantalizing reminders of your project, everywhere you go, all day long, prompting you to KEEP GOING past the point of reason) and hopefully analyzing/preparing briefings/assembling our many future documents.

I don’t know.  It’s hard to sum up in any sort of interesting way, because frankly, I’m resisting the temptation to talk more about MY project right now, but we really have gotten to a point where we’re breathing this, and dreaming it, as well as hoping that our solutions are going to be useful in some way.  This is the sort of thing that leaves you very drained, but hopefully feeling very proud about too.  I’m joking about the sickness going around because it’s to be expected under the circumstances, and also, what better bonding moment can you have than diverting attention from The Project to fetch more tissue/handkerchiefs, more tea, and share home remedies?  I’ve just learned about one involving tea with raspberry jam and some sort of liquor, and if it weren’t for the person’s grandma who makes it living all the way in the Ukraine, I’d totally be swilling it by now.  I mean, doesn’t that sound good?   Someone else swears by Sudafed, which makes me so crazed that I’d talk even more than I do now, and now?  Now I talk too much because that is what happens when I’m tired–I babble.  It’s truly unfortunate, and I have apologized many times.  In that sense a sore throat is a small blessing for others because I can’t do it. 

I am enjoying an evening of obsessing over finding some graphics that are really specific (oh, believe you me, I know what I am looking for, internets) for…I’m not even sure.  Just in case.  Whatever.  I’m sure we’ll get to the bottom of it during our late night meeting tomorrow.

Carry on, ya’ll.  And to our friends Out There??  We do miss you.  And we will see you…well, honestly probably not until Spring Break or May, depending.  But when we’re not dreaming about Lab, we’re totally thinking of you.  Honest.


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I really am still here. I swear. My blogging absence has been dutifully noted and will be addressed tonight. Right after a 15 minute power nap…zzzzz……. Ok, just kidding. But I really have had to resort to power naps lately at a rate not seen since the days of my last semester of undergraduate. Warning: The faint of heart should not enroll in 19 credit hours, work 10 hours at an internship (unpaid!), work 30+ hours at a PT job, be involved in school activities and attempt to finish a senior thesis all at the same time. But somehow I survived that, and I intend to survive my first semester here in grad school at Milano. (Plus I suppose it all worked well for me since I earned an A+ on my senior thesis and was hired from my internship into full-time staff after graduation.)

It’s not as if my schedule is really even that full right now, compared to the above or compared to many students who work full-time while attending school full-time, have children and families or are attempting to juggle classes with teaching assistantships. But compared to my first few months here, I’m exhausted, and for the most part, happy about it.

For all students this time of year is stressful and busy. Finals- enough said. Which may be why I am now questioning the reason I began interning at a nonprofit consulting firm last week, instead of simply starting in the beginning of Spring semester. For all practical purposes, I know why it worked out this way: I was interested in the firm and was eager to jump into the projects, they asked me to start at this time, etc. etc… But working on top of the many group projects Milano throws at us, plus tending to my numerous final semester-long papers has been a handful.

What I remembered after these past few weeks though, is that I work best like this. Procrastination tends to creep up when I have too much free time tempting me to watch movies and do fun art projects instead of study. With less free time, I know that I only have X amount of hours to do Y paper. No ifs and or buts about it, I have to do it NOW. It gets finished and I am more focused! I wouldn’t say that everything benefits from this focused time management (just ask my family who I never call, my boyfriend who I never see despite the fact that we live together in a tiny apartment, my gym membership, my laundry or my dishes…) but right now, the most important tasks are getting the attention they deserve, and I’m happy to do it.

It’s not as if any of this is groundbreaking or news to any graduate student, but for some reason it took me a few months to remember. Now my goal is to NOT forget it in January when May finals seem soooo far away…

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