Sunday, May 4, 2014

Five Things to Do at the End of a Semester

In the corporate world, there are formal review processes to help keep the business on track. In the academic environment, the only formal review for a student is probably the transcript with the grades, which I think is insufficient for the growth of the student. Many students may be wondering about what to do to best conclude a semester other than getting ready for the break. Below is a list of five things I would recommend my students to do at the end of a semester:

1. Review the semester plan.
You made a plan at the beginning of the semester. Now it's time to look at that plan and figure out the differences between the targets and the accomplishments, and why they are there. In some areas, you may not be able to have a clear evaluation because of the vague definition of the performance evaluation metrics in your plan, which should be improved the next time you make a plan.

2. Think about improvements.
If you were at the beginning of the semester, what would you change to make the semester more productive? The improvements may include time allocation, schedule, prioritization, etc.

3. Update your professional profiles.
Update your resume, CV, LinkedIn, personal webpage and other profiles to reflect your most recent experience and current credentials. Make sure you keep the older version of your CV and resume as well.

4. Plan for the future.
Develop a plan for the next semester and give an outlook for your next year. Your semester plan should be aligned with your annual goals. It should include the aspects of learning, research and professional development. The measurements of success have to be clearly defined. Eventually you will need to break down your semester plan into over a dozen weekly plans (see Getting a PhD in 20 Months).

5. Get feedback from your adviser.
Bring your previous plan, self-evaluation and future plan to your adviser. Ask him/her for feedback. You should also give your adviser some feedback about how you think s/he can better help you to be successful.

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