Ahead of Schedule

There are goals that doctoral students must meet before they sit for qualifying exams. Depending on the program and the school, getting published and presenting at conferences are more important than the dissertation defense.

My school does put some weight on these things, but thankfully, the professors realize that all of us in the program work full time and have families, so they're supportive without being pushy. We have regular doctoral meetings and each of us is charged with sharing our objectives. This helps in keeping us accountable and on target.

At January's meeting, I stated my goals for this year as gathering my committee, specifically, reaching out to my Cognate department and setting my path in their program. My other goal was to complete the literature review I've been meaning to do. That was my summer assignment for myself, hoping to submit for publication in the fall.

There's something that isn't on that list. I have yet to attend an academic conference, and attendance at one before presenting was my short term goal. Heck, I signed up for one when I got the announcement in January, planning to take a day off from work to attend. Now, I'm working and it is considered professional development, too. Sweet.

Tonight, in class, my professor turns to my group (and specifically to me), and informs us that I will be presenting our product at the conference I'd planned to attend in three weeks. IN THREE WEEKS!! The product is good, it'll be relevant to all attendees, and the client is already using what my group has developed-even though it is a design proof (one of three component sections are done.)

Pardon me while I freak out for the next three weeks. I have a major research project for the Stats class, and while this is definitely a group effort, I have to write a 20 minute presentation and present it to a bunch of people-probably more people than I've ever spoken in front of before.

Then, after the rest of the class left, the professor informs me that she expects me to present it at other conferences, too. I didn't expect to have a strong presentation topic until I started the dissertation process, but she's right-this is a topic and product of interest. The final paper the group prepares is also being set up for publication.

So, I will end up with a presentation before the end of the semester and a possible publication earlier than I'd scheduled myself. While I thought my professors were of the 'do it in your own time' variety, it's becoming clear that they're really the 'ambush' type!

She's right-I'm ready for this. It doesn't mean I'm not going to freak out a bit, though.


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