Collaboration & Advising: A Unique Thesis Experience

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile but I am back and excited to give you all some updates on my thesis. This week, I wanted to talk a bit about collaboration and advising and share some of the learning experiences I have had in this area.

Once I got settled into the semester, I met with three of my thesis advisors. I have a unique advising situation because my primary mentor took an amazing job at another institution. Although she continues to provide guidance and support, I also now have two co-chairs for my committee who have been supporting me through my advisor’s transition and help me on a day-to-day basis. Although the four of us had been communicating via email throughout the summer, we had yet to have our first in-person meeting. I felt both a little nervous and very excited before this meeting. I had lots of ideas but was also feeling a little overwhelmed by my approaching winter defense date. We all have busy schedules and I worried that it would be difficult to set a schedule that would work for all of us. Additionally, while all of my advisors work in the field of psychology, each one has a different speciality. I was really excited to hear how each of their backgrounds (risk/resilience, qualitative, and developmental), would influence their feedback on my thesis, but I was also a bit nervous–what if they all gave me really different feedback?

Before our meeting I sat down and planned out my agenda. I knew I wanted to decide on a timeline, discuss my final committee member, and get some feedback on my introduction. The meeting got off to a good start and before I knew it, we had figured out a plan that worked for everyone, decided on my final committee member, and were talking about different angles to pursue in the discussion, stylistic changes to consider for the introduction, and theoretical approaches to consider when we turn my thesis into a manuscript and submit it to a peer-reviewed journal. My nerves prior to the meeting had been totally unfounded and it was so cool to watch three professors use their areas of expertise to help me consider many different viewpoints before I started writing my discussion. At the end of the meeting I was so thankful for my advisors’ input and eager to begin work on my discussion. I felt totally reassured, empowered, and ready to go!

As I have been working on my thesis, I have also been getting ready to apply to graduate school, and part of that process entails examining potential faculty mentors in my programs of interest. I am really thankful that I have this experience of working with three people at the same time, because it is teaching me how to coordinate and communicate clearly and how to listen and consider multiple theoretical backgrounds. I know that as I look for my graduate school mentor, I will be looking for someone who supports me in my independence and who uses their expertise to help me become a better researcher. I am so excited to continue to work with and learn from my advisors, and I know that their support will be invaluable as I get into the nitty gritty of writing. 

Check back next time for some updates on the writing process!

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