Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The 7 stages of an adviser-student relationship

I'm going to sign your thesis... someday.
Photo credit: Ozone Ferd
Stage 1: (1st year, senior undergraduates) "Professor X is so smart. I'm honored to be in his presence."
Stage 2: (2nd year) "Professor X doesn't care about me."
Stage 3: (3-4 year) "Professor X hates me and only me."
Stage 4: (4-5 year) "I $#$#$#$# hate Professor X. He's a complete ^@#@#!"
Stage 5: (5 year+) "I'm so tired of Professor X. I'm so ready to be done."
Stage 6: (post-graduation) "Professor X isn't so bad. He's a lot better than Professor Y."
Stage 7: (2 years post-graduation) "You know, that Professor X, he's grown a lot since I left the group."


  1. Stage n-1: (during faculty job interview)"Professor X, yes he was my supervisor, but this proposal in no way resembles the work I did with him."
    Stage n: (many years post-graduation)"It is an honour to be asked to introduce Professor X who in many ways shaped me into the chemist that I am today"
    Stage n+1: (many, many years post-graduation) "Professor X was a giant in his discipline ... and yet a giant that found the time to make a personal contact with his entire research group. He will be missed and I can only pray that my research program is but a shadow of the legacy that he leaves our discipline, our science and our culture."

    I have lived them all except Stage n+1.

  2. Sometimes Stage 4 never changes status!

  3. Stage 8: "Sure Professor X, I'll donate a lot of money to Alma Mater U!"

  4. 3+ years post-graduation: "Hi, Prof. X! How are you doing?"

    Prof. X says with guarded expression, "Fine...who are you?"

  5. Stage 9: Meeting up a former colleague from grad school years down the line: "Wow, you know, you remind me a lot of Professor X." Response: "Nooooooooo!"

  6. Stage 10: Many years later, once your career has been firmly established, you feel a pleasant jolt of recognition when Professor X calls you at your home, ostensibly to chat about life and congratulate you for doing so well. You're high on life, on Cloud 9, top of the world....for 10 minutes.

    Then, Professor X confesses he really called you because he has a grad student / postdoc that really needs to be "placed" in your company, and could you help out?