Saturday, June 4, 2016

When students graduate

I've been pondering this since my first set of students finished. How much effort should I put in to keeping in contact with my former students?

Like others have said, my students' PhD defenses were bittersweet. I was so proud of how much they accomplished, of how they had matured into capable scientists, but I miss them. And I am not the kind of PI who socializes with my group much outside of work. My first students set up my lab with me, (hopefully) spent longer in the group than anyone else because of it, and helped me actually learn how to be an academic PI. For me, it went as smoothly as I could have hoped--my senior students finished and left, and my newer students took over where needed without a hitch. But even now, it is still weird to me that I won't see my first students in the hallways or labs.

It definitely makes me wish I kept in better contact with my own advisor. My students have a very different relationship with me than the relationship I had with ProdigalAdvisor, but now I think it would have been nice to send an email more than every few years. So far I have been in regular contact with all of my former grad students except one, and I hope this continues. I really want to know what they are up to and how things are going.


xykademiqz said...

This is very true. My first student has a special place in my advisor heart. She was only a few years younger than me, the age of my younger sister.
She is doing fabulously!

I keep in touch with most of my students and am always delighted to hear of them having babies (so far 2 boys and 2 girls from group alumni :). One former student said maybe some day soon they can come with babies in tow to visit the old group!

But what's striking to me are the timescales. For instance, for many of them it feels like they literally just graduated and left, and it turns out it's been 5 years and nobody who's currently in the group (other than me) has even overlapped with them! Perhaps academia is not the real world, times passes at a different pace here.

plam said...

Those of us who stayed in academia see each other (and our advisor) pretty often at conferences (which are relatively small in our area). We also started an email thread about a reunion but that hasn't quite organized itself yet.

prodigal academic said...

None of mine so far plan to stay in academia, so I'll have to find other ways to stay in touch. So far, we've been in regular email contact, which is nice.