I didn’t just get lucky with my advisor. I had a list of things that were important to me, some were deal breakers and others were not. I made sure to ask current students and even other Professors about my advisor. All of the feedback I received was valuable to my journey and relationship with him. PhD advisors can make or break your graduate student experience. As a mentor and a mentee, I encourage every new or recent graduate student to consider the items below as they come to a final decision.
1. Your personal and professional goals. Make sure they align.
2. Their publishing record & rate . What Journal, How Many & How Fast. Especially if you want to be a professor
3. Funding for conferences and other research related travel. This is important for networking, your professional development, and thesis.
4. Careers of past students. Says a lot about their connections and network.
5. Their network. It’s all about who you know and you want someone who knows every body.
6. Academic & personal reputation. You want someone who is respected and liked in their field. It’s a bonus if they’re famous. People will judge you based on this.
7. Opinions of current students. If they’re miserable you will also be miserable.
8. FUNDING!! No money, no PhD
9. Teaching requirements (for STEM students). Teaching takes time away from experiments which may prolong your stay. Could also signal funding issues!
10. Work-Life balance. If activities outside of research such as starting a family, outreach, etc. are important, your advisor needs to be ok with this
11. Time to completion. You don’t want to be a graduate student forever.
Please, please, please choose your research advisor wisely. I have heard amazing stories and not so good stories. If you’re a new student and it is not working out with your current advisor…..get out ASAP. Trust me, it probably won’t get better. Don’t sacrifice your mental health because you’re afraid to let go and move on.
From Aeriel, With Love