Change is Inevitable

Dear Readers,

Thank you for reading our posts for the past few years! We are forever grateful for your loyalty. With that we would like to let you that we are integrating this blog with the MSU Graduate School blog.  This move is in anticipation of the physical relocation to Chittenden Hall, the new hub for all things related to graduate students. Please find new blog posts here in the future.

moving boxes

Moving House by Nathan O’Nions via CC by 4.0

ALSO, sign up or edit your newsletter preference here. These newsletters are the best way to learn about upcoming events, programs and workshops.

Stay connected to all things Graduate School by visiting our many social media pages. See you on the flip side!



Graduate Student Life and Wellness

P.S.- Be sure to visit us in Chittenden Hall this Fall when we finish moving!

A Guide to Networking in Unusual Times & Places

Anyone can network well at a career fair, at a conference, in the work place, or another professional setting. Why? Because you prepared for it to happen! You introduced yourself with a perfect handshake, you have your portfolio filled with resumes and CV’s, your business cards are printed and in your pocket, and you made sure there was nothing in your teeth when you flashed your dazzling smile. Want to freshen up your networking skills? Check out the 8 most important rules for networking and the networking guide for introverts. But what about all the opportunities to network outside of the typical networking function?

For example, running to the grocery store or stopping by the mall to make a return are not typical networking events. Yet, I have found that they can be the best time to make connections and to meet people in the community. Authentic connections and conversations happen because of pressure free and casual interactions; for example in the line at a grocery store, or while you’re waiting to board a plane destined for a new city.
The story goes like this: It was during the longest winter of my life and my work week had just ended. I was preparing to board a plane headed south to enjoy some sun and warmth with family and friends. Once I was seated on the plane I noticed that the gentleman next to me was continually jotting down notes. This continued for about an hour straight. Curiously, I asked him what he was writing about and why. The conversation that ensued after led me to learn that he was on a business trip down south and had recently started a new job in Michigan. The small talk continued and he eventually revealed the secrets most important for landing a good job and the skills necessary for being a good boss. We shared our good and bad experiences and stories throughout the remainder of the plane ride. When we had reached out final destination, we exchanged business cards and promised to connect on LinkedIn once we found Wi-Fi.

If that story tells you anything, it’s that the best time to network is ANY time. To make sure you’re prepared for your next unexpected networking moment, here are a list of things that will help you create conversation and connection no matter the location or occasion.

  • Business cards: Of course! Even in an unusual networking moment these are a MUST! Business cards reflect your business style, communication your contact information, and serve as a reminder of the conversation that happened. Maximize your business cards by carrying a couple with you at all times. You never know who you might be able to get them in the hands of.
  • A writing utensil: Choose your pen wisely, my friend! Perhaps it’s a special pen you got from your work place, as a gift after graduation, or a pen that has’s been passed down in your family. Perhaps it’s a plain Bic pen that you picked up in the parking lot. Some say that “a pen is just like a tie, or a watch, or the car you drive, or your murse/purse.” Personalize the connection you make right away. On the back of the business card, write something clever and memorable that will make you unforgettable. When I passed my card over on the plane I wrote, “Best seating Delta has ever randomly assigned me, thank you for the stories and advice!”
  • A box of mints or chewing gum: Fresh breath goes a long way, bad breath goes even further! Set yourself apart from faces in the crowd when networking by making the connection stronger and the connection more intimate. When you first shake hands, maintain eye contact and distance. Your breath will be the last of your worries! After all, gum chewers are more likable.
  • An open mind: Don’t worry, your brain will not fall out. A potential connection doesn’t have to be wearing a business suit and tie or have their hair pulled back in a sleek bun to make a positive impression on you. Making casual connections is more than the judging the success of an individual by their outside appearance. The credentials of the new connection will become apparent throughout your conversation.
  • Open ears: Listen in order to be heard. Although talking is an important part of reciprocating conversations, listening is even more important. You have a short amount of time, think 15 seconds, in the beginning of the conversation to establish an enjoyable environment for the person you want to network with. Everyone is interested in their own lives, and wants to share their wisdom and pride. Steer the conversation by asking them about who they are and what they do. Follow up with something that expressed your interest to know more. Exchange contact information and always keep your promises.
  • A promise: It makes the biggest difference. When you promise you will follow-up with someone, actually DO IT! The follow-up will assure that individual that the conversation you had meant more to you than a quick stop at the post office, or a frozen yogurt treat after working out. The connections you make in the unusual places mean just as much as ones you make in the work place. If you want the connection to yield anything then the follow-up shows that you are reliable and seriously interested. Take the next step.

Take networking into your own hands. Don’t wait for the opportunity to arise at work or at a conference, create it yourself whenever you please. You never know who can get you that job, or who knows that person who works for the company you applied for. It’s both what you know and who you know!


Grad Wellness Marketing/Public Relations Intern

Walk and Talk, Let’s Walk the Talk

2014. 07. 02 Blog Walking Meetings

Take a moment and think of a recent meeting you attended Did you think thought about a time where people gathered in a room full of chairs and tables? Or when people discussed research methods, upcoming events, recent news, or class schedules? Sound right?

So in this recent meeting that we made you think about, was it a gorgeous summer day? Were you gazing out the window instead of paying attention? There is a way to change this!

But, you say, “meetings are really important,” we get a lot of work gets done because of these staff/research team/ group project meetings!”  We totally agree.  Meetings are a perfect time to collaborate, share, and get support on your work.  There is nothing wrong with having meetings in whatever location (classroom, personal office, coffee shop) is available to you. These settings create formality and sets the stage for accomplishing important work. But word on the block is, sitting is the new smoking.

Avoid sitting disease, it kills!

What if we took our meetings outside? What if we were getting work done AND breathing fresh air AND getting exercise? BRILLIANT!

“Fresh air drives fresh thinking!”

The Walking Meeting concept is explained in the TED Talk above. Nilofer Merchant explains how to have a walking meeting and why they are a great way to re-innovate the traditional meeting. Merchant gives us an inventive way to increase physical, occupational and social wellness while in a work environment.  Feet First, a company working to help communities become walking accessible, suggests that “thinking, talking, and walking are inextricably linked through history.”

A walking meeting will help you increase your energy during the work day, help you be more engaged in your work, and will foster creative ideas. Nature helps keep the blues at bay and makes you appreciate the beautiful world around us.

Walking meetings are easy at MSU because of our large campus and beautiful river walk along the Red Cedar River. Walking loops have already been mapped out   MSU has many beautiful nature area that are ideal for walking and relaxing. Check out the Beal Botanical Gardens, the Horticulture Gardens or the Sanford Natural Area.

Once we reinvent our meetings, we can also try and change the location of our coffee dates! There is no social norm or coffee house rule that says you have to sip your coffee and munch on your muffin within the confines of the coffee shop. Venture out, be caffeinated! In moderation of course.

We challenge you to schedule a walking meeting this week! All you need is your walking shoes, a colleague, and something to talk about! Let us know how it goes by tweeting @gradwellness #walkingmeeting #gradwellness!

How to Make Your Usual Foods Unusual

2014. 06. 23 Break Your Routine


The human body is 60% water! How much water you drink each day depends on your health, how active you are, where you live, and many other factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, there is no magic formula that calculates how much water each individual needs to drink each day. However, it is well-known that staying hydrated helps the body function properly in many ways. It can be difficult for us to make drinking water a habit in our daily lives. Here are a few suggestions to make drinking water more exciting:

  •  Add a lemon slice. Drinking water with lemon at the restaurant is typical for most people, so why not add lemon when you’re not at  the restaurant? Lemons are a source of Vitamin C and can help fight fatigue, canker sores, and even fevers.
  •  Add thinly sliced fruit. This could be strawberries, kiwis, oranges, and even pineapple. What if your fruit can’t really be sliced? That’s perfectly fine. Smashed blueberries, grapes, and raspberries are also a great mix to water. The best part about these fruits is because they’re sliced thin, you really taste the sweetness, meaning no need to add sugar.
  •  Add flavor burst packs. Although adding a flavor packs isn’t a home remedy or very natural, it does offer a quick alternative to juice, coffee or soda. Flavor burst packs can be purchased at most stores and are portable.

Raw Veggies

If you’re like me, it’s a challenge every morning to pack my lunch. I usually end up throwing some carrots into a snack bag and head out the door, running late. I’ve gotten pretty bored of eating veggies plain. Sometimes, I can find some ranch dressing in the staff fridge, what a treat! We are all too used to eating our veggies plain, if not with ranch dressings.

  •  Try hummus. Raw veggies that go great with hummus include cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers. If you want to take the extra step, get some pita bread and wrap your hummus and veggies up! A quick health sandwich, bon appetite!
  •  Try with peanut butter. Think back to when you were about 7 years old and you got the “ants on a log” snack in your lunch box … celery, peanut butter, and raisins! How about a peanut butter bananas sandwich … YUM! Peanut butter can be a healthy alternative as opposed to heavy sauces on our sandwiches, like mayonnaise. Peanut butter also goes great with cucumbers and carrots! It adds a sweet taste to your veggies, instead of a salty taste like hummus would.


Greek yogurt is quite the rave these days, but even things that are delicious and nutritious get old after eating them regularly. Try some of the suggestions below to make your yogurt more fun!

  •  Granola. Granola can be bought in packs at the store or made at home. It adds a crunchy texture to your yogurt, making it more fun to eat. Put it in a small bag or container when packing it to go and add it to your yogurt right before you eat it. This ensures that the granola doesn’t get soggy.
  • Go Nuts! Nuts make a great snack on their own and an even better snack when combined with yogurt. Similar to granola, nuts add texture, crunch and health benefits. Nuts, like almonds, also help you stay full to skip over 2:30 cravings!
  •  Add Yogurt into a Smoothie. There are a ton of smoothie recipes floating around the Internet. This Wiki site makes it really easy to follow directions.
  •  Use it as a substitution. Yogurt can act as a healthy substitute for oil in baked goods or dressing in sandwiches or as butter in dipping spreads.

Break your normal routine and let us know how it goes!

Recovering on the Weekend

A typical day for a graduate student: 6 hours of sleep, get up early to get to campus, teach, meet with adviser, rush home to walk the dog, think about writing something for dissertation, worry about paying rent next month, scarf down some dinner, prepare for class tomorrow… repeat. Does that sound familiar?

These long, repetitive weeks strung together would make even the strongest and most prepared graduate student feel the effects of burn out. So, what’s the solution? Here’s a few ways to recover on the weekends. It starts the minute you get home after finishing the Monday through Friday routine.

  • Take off your shoes, socks, and go take a quick rinse. A quick rinse is short enough that you can still have time to prep dinner and prepare for the night, but also just enough to wake your body up, leaving you feel refreshed.
  • Next, figure out how much light you’re feeling. I know some people who love all the lights on in the house, but me, I’m a lamp person. Having a few lamps lit in the living room sets the relaxing mood for me. Others, disagree and would rather have the sun. If there’s still sunlight out… Let it in! Artificial lights function perfectly for us, but having the sunlight into our place can lead to real light. This real light can help affect our mood. Something simple like the lighting in our home can easily be a way to help us relax.
  • Drink water. On average, a person should consume nine to thirteen cups of water a day. Drinking a cup of water before eating a meal also helps us determine whether or not we are actually hungry. Water could even alter your mood.
  • Next, spend time with people you love. Their company will help you wind down for the weekend, relieve stress and feel loved in return.
  • Lastly, establish a nightly routine before bed. Try to get eight or nine hours of sleep every night. When you are lying in bed, try different solutions to fall asleep, like stretching your entire body. Stretching helps relieve our body of the tenseness that holds us back from having a restful sleep. Having some solid hours of sleep will help us feel and look refreshed, and have better body and brain performance the next day. Without a proper amount of sleep your immune system becomes more vulnerable, thus you are more likely to catch a cold.

Recovering on the weekend will help you prepare for the week ahead and prevent a catastrophic burn out.

6 Easy Tips to Start Being Well

A lot of people want to live healthy life styles, but how do they start? What do they eat? What work outs do they need to do?

Living a healthy life style is more than changing one’s diet and adopting a workout routine. A healthy life style can encompass being emotionally stable, being in a healthy work environment, and even orienting the mind towards relaxing, just to name a few.

Here at the GSLW, we believe that there are six different dimensions of health and wellness: intellectual, spiritual, physical, emotional, occupational and social. Based off of these six dimensions, here are six simple tips in order to start rowing the boat!

1. Establish a short morning/night physical routine: By short, I mean ten minutes does the trick. In ten minutes, you could do ten sets of ten sit ups, do a little meditation, ten leg lifts, pack yourself a healthy snack or any small exercise that focuses on the part of your body you would like to work on. Even going on a bike ride with the kids. Ten minutes out of your twenty-four hour day is totally doable! Exercise can help you be your best self!

2. Take a breather: While you are doing research, or are at your desk, taking three deep breaths helps you remember to breath and relax. We tend to forget the easiest things like breathing when caught up in accomplishing stressful tasks. Simply taking deep breathes can be one of the first steps to remain emotionally stable and productive.

3. Ask to learn something new every day: We run into people every single day we’re alive. Learning new facts from them is what makes relationships interesting. This can build bonds and networking connections that can help in the future. Also, learning is a new fact is fun!

4. Be outside- for real: It’s hard to escape technology in today’s culture. We are constantly checking our phones for new emails, notifications from friends, our to-do lists, and more, which can lead to working away from work! Avoid becoming a multitasking menace! During the walk to your car, or even to get the mail, try to refrain from using your phone or listening to music. Soak in the sun and nature’s beauty around you. This can help us spiritually to remain calm and collected.

5. Have a clean work area: In the midst of trying to accomplish so many things, we have our pens laying around, our research documents spread everywhere, and we don’t know where our stapler disappeared to. Having a clutter-free desk can help keep a clutter-free mind! The less messy it looks, the more prepared our mind feels to tackle our duties.

6. Have a coffee date every once and a while: Pursuing a professional degree requires much time and dedication, and that’s just talking about the degree! When throwing in other stuff like family and work, we become engulfed in our tasks and it becomes difficult to just sit back and socialize. Every now and then, take out some time to grab some coffee with a friend. Try not to talk about your research or your latest reading assignment, and just catch up on life! This gives us that break that we need and helps with maintaining our personal life on top of our professional life. More occupational wellness tips are explained in this blog about battling burnout.

Start with these simple tips to start working towards wellness!

What is Happiness and Well-Being?

2014.05.20 Blog Happiness

Via Page by Brook Osborne

In the article, “A Tape Measure for Well-Being,” graduate student Jose Duarte from Arizona State University questions the real definition of happiness and well-being. Through the World Values Survey, we define it through statements and responses. However, can happiness and well-being really be simplified to a few statements?

I personally believe that happiness is defined through multiple things. Personal things that make me happy are simple; things like smelling my hands after washing them with scented soap, making my Dad smile, and the feeling I get right after a morning workout.

Happiness can be more than just self-actualization. It can be the little things in life that are personal to who you identify yourself as.

Read this article and see what you think! How do you define happiness and well-being?