Monday, March 7, 2011

Being honest, but not too honest...

My department has graduate student recruit visits for the next two weekends. While I'm not involved in planning this year, I like being involved. Given my current advisorial issues, this raises a dilemma. How do I sell the department when I'm a bit bitter about how things have turned out for me?

Harder still is how honest to be in answering questions about my advisor. He's a nice guy, we do interesting work (I really love my project), and when he eventually manages to give feedback, it's generally constructive. On the other hand, funding for the experimentalists has been flaky of late, and his snail-like response times aren't likely to vanish overnight.

We also have a large fraction of the group defending within the next year (1/2 of the non-postdocs). It wouldn't be a bad thing for the group to get a bit smaller, but we will need another experimentalist soon (we'd be down to one lonely student). The only new student we got this year switched groups to join us, rather than being a new enrollee.

I think at this point, I plan to answer questions honestly, but I'm not going to volunteer negative information. The important part is convincing them that GiantU is a good place to be. Advising decisions don't have to be set until well into the fall semester. We've just gotten two new postdocs, and they may have some positive effects on group dynamics by then.


  1. It is indeed a tricky balance - I'm giving open house tours this week as well. I think your plan of attack sounds just about right, and if the group is changing that much the future lab dynamic may very well be different. Good luck!

  2. Just make sure you don't say something that can come back to bite you later. If they ask an honest question, they should get an honest answer.

    I learned early on doing those open house things to steer the conversation clear of those topics. But the really good students will know to ask those things, so that also tells you something about the person. Usually, they'll appreciate your honesty and shrug it off and then think highly of "GiantU".