Do you have what it takes?

As the end of fall semester gets closer, days become shorter both literally and figuratively. Many of you may know that graduate students have to deal not only with their lectures but also with teaching assistantships, papers, presentations and any other duty to be done. We are the hidden cogs of the academic machinery that keep the academia running, but this noble labor requires an exceptional kind of person.

What makes us suitable for graduate school? Is it only a matter of being smart? Try to think about this for a few minutes on your next trip to the laboratory. Maybe you are an exceptionally smart buddy, but what if you are too shy to speak in public? In this case, you will have to face your fears and confront a set of academics along with a room full of people, which will not hold back just because you are nervous. Maybe you are smart and confident, what about discipline and organization? Do you have the habit of reading by yourself these papers and write your reports? Can you keep track of every experiment and every result without turning your desk into a war zone? Sometimes your supervisor will try his/her best to make time to discuss with you, but most of the time you will have to show that you can be an independent researcher who brings reasonable good results. Ok, so you are smart, confident, disciplined AND organized. Then how do you feel emotionally? Can you deal with failure, lack of motivation and even depression? That without mention that many times you are thousands of miles away from your loved ones and all the things that were familiar to you. In summary, what it takes to be here? A lot. Really a lot. Because even when you lack any of the previously mentioned characteristics you are here doing the job. Because with every one of your weakness and demons you are here doing your best. So for all of my fellow graduate students, fear nothing. You are exceptional human beings and I really hope that this end of the semester you get that paper done, have an amazing thesis defense or that those results finally make sense. Only the best for all of you.

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