Category Archives: Ideas Worth Stealing

Write a Grad Student CV of Failures | Celebrate Risk Taking

Should grad students compile their own CV of Failures and what should it include? That was my question when I read about Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer posting his CV of Failures (or Shadow CV).

YES! is my answer. Maybe I love this idea because my career has been littered with job loss, abandoned projects, disappointments, and tears. These days, I am helping teach workshops applying design thinking (“fail early and often”) to grad student’s lives and career planning.

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Fighting Feeling Like a Fake|The Impostor Syndrome

Fraud. Fake. Phony.

Despite being one of only a few people admitted to grad school in a highly competitive process. Despite many academic and professional successes. Despite exceeding the expectations of grad school.

Charlatan. Sham. Incompetent.

A surprising number of graduate students, particularly women, feel like they are undeserving of the successes they have had. They fear being discovered as the impostors that they believe that they are. (Wrongly.)

Loser. Idiot. Deceiver.

There is a name for these feelings: The Impostor Phenomenon or Impostor Syndrome. This particularly affects high achieving women. The good news is that there are steps you can take to reduce these feelings. You can feel as accomplished as you really are.

Feelings are the last to change. Start by changing your thoughts and behaviors.

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You are the only person in your graduate program who doesn’t understand how things work.

That might be what you observe. That might be how you feel. But it isn’t true.

Academic culture is riddled with those who bluff when they don’t know something. Acting confident and competent even when you don’t feel that way can be a useful strategy on some occasions. But not all of the time. It is also important to share your questions and confess your doubts.  Continue reading


Grad school is hard. That’s a fact. This is one of the most difficult challenges you will ever attempt, especially if you are in a PhD program.

Many grad students find themselves assailed by doubt and plagued by feelings of anxiety.

“I am not sure that I can do this.”

“Everyone else knows what is going on, except for me.”

“Everyone is smarter than me.”

These are a few of the thoughts and feelings that many grad students have. And they don’t just live in your head, ideas that you can address rationally. No, these beliefs are lodged deep in your heart, your gut, your soul. They just seem true.  But they are not.