Going with the Flow in Graduate School

By Rachael Kroot, January 2013

graduate-student-blogsSometimes as a grad student, you have to know when to go with the flow. I had a lot of plans for myself going into my second year:

  1. After my summer internship, I was pumped to spend more time practicing in the broadcast studio
  2. I was also really looking forward to applying what I had learned during severe weather events to our weather balloon launches and storm chases
  3. On top of that, my friend Isaac and I were hoping to conduct some research with the Jackson Weather Service Forecast Office

Of course, things don’t always go as planned. The first week of school, I took a look at my course syllabi and realized I had quite a few large papers and projects to work on. Then, I registered to attend the National Weather Association (NWA) conference and present at the student poster session, which required quite a bit of prep-work. I also had a lot on my plate as our weather chapter’s Treasurer and Assistant to the State Climatologist. So, I did not have as much time to practice broadcasting as I expected. One plan down.

As for the balloon launches and storm chases, it turned out to be a relatively calm fall in Starkville. The only day that we actually did launch a weather balloon was the same day as my weekly broadcasting lab. Since I had already been slacking in the broadcasting department, and I had a presentation to give later that day, I decided to stay in school and skip the launch. We didn’t have another opportunity all semester. Two plans down.

Then, the government shut down made things complicated with the National Weather Service. This extended beyond just Isaac’s and my research. No government employees were able to attend the NWA conference in Charleston. And, our guest speaker for that month’s weather chapter meeting had to cancel. In terms of our research, it meant that things were put on hold. Three plans down.

Along with multiple speakers having to cancel for the weather chapter meetings, we faced an endless list of difficulties this semester. Our first order of new club shirts were all destroyed in the washing machine, our PayPal account stopped accept payments, we got locked out of Gmail, our annual Southeast Severe Storm Symposium venue was booked solid before we could pick a date, etc. In fact, I am not sure any executive board ever had so many problems for which the cause was out of their control!

What I learned is that sometimes, the solution to the problem is even better than if you had never had a problem to begin with. Need an example? For starters, after spending weeks contacting new venues for our symposium, we ended up getting access to a gorgeous room right on campus for free. It also turned out that our PayPal dilemma had a silver lining; since we were unable to take online orders, we didn’t send any distance learning students shirts that would wash out after the first wear.

Which leads me to the moral of the story: go with the flow. As graduate students, we never know what is around the corner. That’s the great thing about school… there is always an opportunity waiting to happen. Plans 1, 2 and 3? Well, those will just have to wait until next semester.

What Will You Learn in Graduate School? Search for Graduate Programs Here

About the Author: Rachael Kroot has a B.S. in Geography from the University of Maryland and is currently attending graduate school for broadcast meteorology.

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