Tips for Grads: Things to do before the semester begins

By Olivia Gacka, PhD Student

Normally, I love taking the time between semesters to rest, recharge, watch movies, and just generally veg out. But this particular break has been somewhat different. Maybe it’s the way the last few weeks were thrown out of whack by the Omicron variant and we were all a bit more isolated than we thought we might be, but lately I’ve been more drawn to activities that keep me moving and thinking…mixed of course with a healthy dose of watching my favorite TV show on repeat in the background!

Now, I’m all for taking the break to relax if that’s what you need, but if you’re getting a little restless like me, here are some ideas for things to do until the new semester begins:

  • Learn something new (for fun): During an academic semester, we’re much less likely to take the time to learn something that isn’t in our course of study. These next couple of weeks are a great time to set an accessible goal for yourself to learn something new that you wish you had more time for, like the basics of yoga, how to draw, or making pasta from scratch.
  • Individual Development Plan (IDP): This period between semesters is a great time to work on or start your IDP. An IDP can help you assess your strengths, create a plan for developing skills you want or need, and help you map out your professional development and career goals while you’re still in graduate school.
  • Welcome Back Week: The Graduate School is hosting several events in the days leading up to the beginning of the semester, including a program about project management for graduate students, a workshop on work-life integration, and a session discussing and dissecting ableism. These and other events taking place are excellent opportunities for enrichment before coursework and other mid-semester obligations fill your calendar.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.