Behind the Scenes: From a Spark to a Fire

  • January 24, 2017
iJOBS Blog

By: Maria Qadri As the new semester starts, I would like to share a smidge about what's been happening behind the scenes here at the Rutgers iJOBS blog. First, some history: Just like the process of developing a project into a Ph.D. dissertation, this blog has been growing from an idea into a well-developed repository of our Ph.D. and postdoctoral experiences. It started out in the late spring of 2015 as an opportunity for graduate students to practice their non-scientific writing skills, promote the newly formed iJOBS program, and learn "how-to" blog in a low risk setting. The idea was born and led by now-Dr. Shanique Edwards, a cell and developmental biologist, who led us until roughly October 2015 at which point, she had finished her degree and found employment as a science writer. Shanique sent a call out to all the possible iJOBS participants informing them of the opportunity, and only about 10 people, including myself, responded. We sat down in a sparse conference room, introduced ourselves, and started coming up with a vague plan of action for writing, editing, and social media management. During the late stage of  her Ph.D., she had begun to transition her entirely-voluntary leadership role in the iJOBS on to now-Dr. Ina Nikoleva, a then-student in the molecular bioscience program who smoothly maintained the blog from Shanique's departure until Ina finished her Ph.D. circa February 2016, when she transitioned into a role as a Medical Writer at Nucleus Global. Ina did so largely with the help of only one other student in much of the background leadership tasks: current senior editor and recently-minted Dr. Myka Ababon. She may never describe it this way, but I'll go ahead and give you my take: Myka stepped into a massive role with little additional support in scheduling, following up, and maintaining the many small tasks that running a group blog amasses. This is also second to the fact that graduate students are constantly being pulled in multiple directions by multiple people and often blog deadlines were the the first sacrifice when a writer would become overwhelmed (which is unsurprising to anyone who's felt the dread of the impending wrath of missing a deadline set by their advisor and has happened to all of the staff members at one time or another). While we successfully maintained regular posts, the writers were cognizant that the massive burden of leading our charge laid on the shoulders of just one late-stage Ph.D. student and burnout from holding up that weight on her own was inevitable. We all came together in late May of 2016 and came up with a reformed strategy and implementation of new tools that distributed the responsibilities of leadership across more of the blog staff. You can read more about that transition and our current modus operandi here.  Chris Lowe, Myka Ababon, Samantha Yost, Maria QadriThe current senior staff consists of current-Drs. Myka Ababon and Samantha Yost, and soon-to-be-Drs. Chris Lowe and Maria Qadri. I'll tell you more about the next phase of our transition emerging this spring in Thursday's post and share just a few insights on leading graduate students while you are a graduate student.