unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

1) introducing yourself to faculty is not about the generalized benefits of social networking; it's about literally finding a lifeline and advocate for yourself for when shit inevitably hits the fan. your first points of contact in the department have a History with other people in the dept that you need to navigate, but those politics do not supersede your need for allies

unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

2) allyship is never enough. their published research is not a true indication. if you want to know if someone understands how to support you, ask them for advice on how to avoid burnout. ask them for advice on how to conduct and engage in interdisciplinary scholarship. any answer that suggests you're supposed to figure it all out yourself is a FUCKING RED FLAG

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unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

3) you want an advisor/mentor that takes a sincere interest in you as a person. and, when/if you reveal to them that you live with things like anxiety or depression, they should respond with something to the effect of: "that's really tough and nontrivial, what can we do to make certain projects and communication exchanges easier or more manageable? how can I help?"

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unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

4) be sure to keep up with activities and interests outside of the department and outside of the friend group you may establish within your cohort. once you find an anchor in the real world, don't sever that connection in pursuit of some promise of delayed gratification in the academy or in your professional career.

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unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

5) unless, of course, it turns out that your anchor is a spouse or loved one that intensifies and validates Imposter Syndrome. those people were toxic af before grad school, and you're just finding out about it now, and it's okay to drop those people like a sack of hot shit. live your best life without people who don't unquestioningly love and support you.

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unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

6) finding people who find your research interests inherently interesting is Priority #1. when you cannot find tenured faculty in your dept (ie an advisor fig), make sure your minor puts you in constant contact w/ someone Who Gets It. You will spend your entire academic career as someone with a marginalized identity explaining 101 concepts. Friends/comrades help keep you sane.

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unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

@ibull this is so so important to hear; part of my undergrad shutdown was when i changed majors and multiple professors not only discouraged me from topics that interested me, but told me they were boring and unsurprising and that no one would take me seriously. these were all topics that addressed my own experiences with marginalized identity. it took nearly a decade to undo that harm.

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unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

@hvincent that's fucking awful and I'm sorry that was your experience. one of the things that is particularly hard when you then get into grad school is to pay attention to how faculty constantly train you to reproduce those toxic behaviors. we're constantly conditioned in our relationships with students to Be The Authority That Matters and it's toxic AF!

unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

@ibull yeah, not that it's necessary to have 24/7 buttpats about what you're into, but it's about having a mentor that validates and accepts your identity and works with you to direct your energy and experiences towards meaningful work. someone who doesn't do that is a mutual waste of time.

i'm glad i learned that lesson the hard way, so that if/when i get into grad school, i know this.

unsolicited advice for people with marginalized identities interested in or currently fresh to academic life 

@ibull i manage/work with undergraduates for my current staff appointment, and i try to be really careful about this because i have a lot of pretty shitty past experiences with authority figures. i don't want to reproduce these patterns, i want my lab/studio to be an environment where students are free to explore things that tweak their brain and help them understand and grow those ideas!

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