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 

7) when you're stuck and you don't know what to write, 9 times out of 10 it's not because you don't have something to say, it's because you're being forced to talk to someone you don't care about or respect. or you're being asked to write on a topic you don't give a fuck about.

in these instances, the best way forward is Angry Writing. be brutal and unforgiving. be your bad self.

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

8) if there's no anger there and you're still stuck, it's time for Help and you need to Seek It Out.

it actually doesn't matter who you ask—anyone will do: even your kid sibling will force you to rethink what you're trying to say and you'll simplify the topic in a way that moves the analysis along.

a good mentor will show you how to reorganize your ideas to get the blood flowing again.

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

9) for many, learning to teach may initially be the most exciting thing because it feels like you'll Finally have some authority in a space to make room for People Like You or Others Also Harmed By White Imperialist Capitalist Cis-Hetero-Patriarchy.

sadly, the classroom is often another space of domination for ppl whose identities are visible because students readily usurp that authority

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

10) administrators do not rise to those positions because they take radical and defensive positions for their graduate students. most of the time, they have demonstrated a willingness to reproduce systems of domination within the academy to people with conservative values about what teaching is, what should be taught, and how teachers should look/act.

most of the time.

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

11) take advantage of the medical benefits that should be part of your award package. you'll be surrounded by colleagues & senior scholars who totally suck at taking care of themselves at a physical level—who think that care for the body is not at all related to the care you take in your work. nah, these systems are interconnected & acknowledging pain is the first step in transforming it.

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

12a) not sure how to approach a book but you're pretty sure you're not going to like it? (you've probably got an extra sense that tingles when you've got your hands on some bullshit).
hot tip: start reading the book by looking at its front & back matter. what's in the index? what's **not** in the index? what **should** be in the index? when was this written? who's in the acknowledgments?

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

12b) start with what you think your critique of the book is going to be on the basis of how you think it relates to other things you've read. do a bit of research on the personal bio(s) of the author(s). get a picture in your mind of who wrote the thing and why before finding the reason someone thought to pass it along to you. there was probably a good reason, even if the book is Bad

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

12c) cuz you're going to read a lot of Bad literature as part of Satisfying More Senior Scholars. remember: you never need to read the whole of a Bad thing—just enough to help you articulate why it isn't Good for you. there's usually one strength inherent in everything. Politics is finding that strength, even if it boils down to "they've demonstrated that someone can believe this thing" 😂

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