Best Advice [From the Hey Jane archives]

March 24, 2009 at 1:49 am | Posted in Dissertation, Graduate School, Hey Jane Column | Leave a comment

Hey Jane! is a monthly advice column on the SWS listserv that addresses issues of interest to feminist sociologists and sociologist-activists. The name honors Jane Addams, a feminist sociologist not always recognized enough. This Q&A is hosted by the Career Development Committee, who solicits anonymous questions and responses from multiple SWS members.

Column 23 (January 2008)

For this month’s Hey Jane! Column I asked you to send me your “best” piece of advice.

My personal top three “best” pieces of advice include:

  1. Learn how to say no.
  2. You will be the smartest person in the room during your dissertation defense.
  3. Done is better than perfect.

As for number one on my list – I’m still learning the art of saying no.  I’ve gotten to be pretty good at it when I’m asked to do something that does not seem interesting or useful to me at all.  I’m still working on saying no to people I like and respect and when the task is compelling.  The last two on my list probably require a bit of elaboration.  They both worked well for me because of my own personal demons.  When I was approaching my dissertation defense I was experiencing a lack of confidence.  The person who told me I’d be “the smartest person in the room” meant that I would know more about my topic and my data than anyone else in the room.  And it was true!  Of course the people on my dissertation committee were all highly intelligent, but I needed to hear that I could hold my own with them.  This probably wouldn’t be a piece of advice you’d want to give to a student who has a tendency toward arrogance.  “Done is better than perfect,” is not intended as an excuse to turn in sloppy work.  However, this bit of advice works well for people who are frozen by the desire for perfection. You’ll notice that some of the pieces of advice below directly contradict each other.  So, take what is useful for you and take some time to think about the person you are giving the advice to – is it the right advice for that person at that time?



March 16, 2009 at 10:35 pm | Posted in Jane | Leave a comment

Hey Jane is an advice blog for women in academia– primarily sociology, but also related disciplines. The blog is maintained by members of Sociologists for Women in Society’s Career Development Committee.

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