My Mental Marathon

I have come to the conclusion that interviewing for graduate programs in conservation is like a marathon: it takes commitment, discipline, and sometimes pain during the training; the actual event is exciting and nerve-racking and pushes you beyond your perceived limits; and, the finish is the most rewarding accomplishment, no matter how you compared to the other competitors. At least that was my experience with running a marathon, and interviewing both last year and this year.

Over the past 10 months, I’ve had to constantly remind myself of the lessons I learned during the 2009 Nike Womens’ Marathon (this relates to conservation, I promise):

1. The extra training will make a difference in the end. You’re tired, and super busy already, so that conference is that last thing you want to do, but the information you glean from those talks may help in solving a problem in the future, so its worth going.

2. Focus on the things you love, rather than the stress. It’s easy to be pessimistic when you feel weighed down by responsibilities, but there has to be a bright side, like taking an amazing art class or meeting people with the same interests as you.

3. Pushing yourself is great, but don’t overdo it. Do the best that you can, but work at your own pace and take breaks. Doing something non-conservation-related can actually improve who you are as a conservator and restore your energy to return to work.

I’ll have to keep reminding myself of these things as I prepare for both my interview next week and a half marathon this summer!

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “My Mental Marathon

  1. May I provide some insights from experience? Getting into a graduate program requires sitting on a waiting list for 3-5 years if you are not too old. If you are over, say, 40ish you may never get accepted. The graduate programs get 1000’s of apps every year. They choose a total of about 50.

    You will need significant hand on experience in addition to your school classes (BA or BS). Preferably, this will be in a conservation lab but in the absence of that opportunity, work as a preparator (frame shop for example) will be considered. The quality (resume) of the person you volunteer with is important.

    Expand your possibilities to the idea of going overseas. I studied in Italy, for example.

    • Thanks, Scott. The competition is definitely great, and increasing each year. The only drawback of studying overseas is the lack of funding for foreigners. I’m sure your time there was amazing, though, and well worth the cost!

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