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Funding: Graduate School fellowships for 2023-24; apply by Nov. 11 | Professional Development Grant; apply by Oct. 15

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Jorge Cham’s Talk in 6 Pictures

The Graduate School celebrated Graduate Student Appreciation Week on March 23-27 with festivities that included professional development events, networking lunches, and recognition ceremonies. The week culminated March 27 with a talk by Jorge Cham, the creator of PhD Comics.

Cham recounted his journey from being a graduate student to drawing cartoons about being a graduate student. While pursuing his Ph.D. at Stanford in 1997, Cham began drawing PhD Comics (“when I should have been doing research,” he said). Since then, the comic strip has built a strong following among graduate students.

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Jorge Cham fan mail

 

Despite finding success by poking fun at graduate school life, Cham said he does not regret going through the experience himself.

“I’m really glad I went to grad school,” he said, “because you learn a lot of very important skills—transferable skills—that will help you in whatever career you choose for yourself, even being a cartoonist.”

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Jorge Cham what I learned

“You learn the ability to teach yourself anything technical,” Cham explained. “You learn the ability to think more analytically and be able to break problems into their components. And you learn the ability to keep in mind the big picture of things, and you’re also able to communicate that.”

 

Cham said being in graduate school feels like “you’re running frantically trying to catch up, but you are not getting anywhere”—like the robots he created during his Ph.D. research.

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Jorge Cham robots

 

There is, he said, an alternative to feeling overwhelmed or hopeless while in graduate school: procrastination.

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Jorge Cham procrastinate

 

Cham said that contrary to conventional views, it’s ok to procrastinate, in part because ...

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Cham procastinate 2

 

His core message to graduate students: relax, enjoy the experience, and …

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Jorge Cham relax