Category Archives: Humor

How to Survive Your First Year of College Teaching


Teaching psychology for the first time can bring up a lot of emotions: excitement, fear, trepidation, eagerness, rage, feelings of inadequacy, and even nervous laughter. When 50 pairs of starving hyenas’ eager undergraduates’ eyes are staring at you for the first time, expecting words to come from your mouth, and more than that, infallibly factual words… it can be a little intimidating. Couple that with a strong imposter syndrome (I’m still learning too, you know!), and it’s a wonder we’re not all incapacitated by bind attacks from a Bulbasaur (ah Pokémon, how I missed you).

No matter your reasons for getting into teaching (having a TA-ship, being forced/encouraged by your advisor, having a martyr complex, or a genuine desire to teach), the first time might feel more like drowning than teaching. However, with some quick tips, compiled and condensed here by yours truly, you’ll be on your way to swimming like Michael Phelps in no time! (marijuana optional).

In the beginning…
1. Prepare! Utilize resources.
Why do more work than you need to? Sign up for an instructor account with the publisher of the textbook you’ll be using, and you can get a FREE desk copy and access to online resources (premade lectures, interactive activities, and even exam questions). Experienced instructors who have taught that class before can be a great resource as well. Many universities also have teaching centers that have an army of people ready and willing to help you out.

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This guy knows to save their critical remarks about the presenter’s outfit until they get back to their lab next week.

Professionalism at Convention, as Told by Animals

Editor’s note: Here are a few simple tips from APAGS Convention Committee member, Stephanie Winklejohn Black to help students keep it professional at Convention.

 1. Mind Your Drinking

Socials are often where connections are made for jobs, post docs, and research collaborations. They can be a lot of fun and really stressful. You may imbibe a bit more than you should because you just really like Pinot Noir (especially when it’s free) or because you’re nervous about Networking (Big N). Either way, becoming tipsy among your current and future colleagues can be nothing short of disastrous.

Less adorable when the dog is a graduate student on or nearing the job market.

Less adorable when the dog is a graduate student on or nearing the job market.

Tips to Reduce the Risk:

  • Some socials give out drink tickets to each guest, which helps to limit access to free alcohol. Leave your cash at home to avoid spending – and drinking – more at a cash bar.
  • Eat before you head to a social. Budgets are tight for students at conventions, so I usually pack granola bars, trail mix, and apples in my suitcase that I can snack on throughout.
  • Less is more. Listen. You might be a tank when it comes to drinking at home with friends. But keep in mind convention is busy and you’ll be tired, stressed, and at a high altitude. All of these impact how you’ll tolerate alcohol

2. Mind Your (and Others’) Time

I will own that I tend to be old-fashioned (LOVE Downton Abbey), so this may not be important to everyone. But there’s something to be said for arriving to talks – especially small, panel-based discussions – on time. If you do enter a talk late, stand toward the back to avoid climbing over folks who are already seated. Be remembered for your insightful questions at a talk, instead of tripping over someone’s leg and book bag on your way to an empty seat in the middle of a row!

You just know this guy is going to ask a question during the Q&A that was totally covered in the presentation!

You just know this guy is going to ask a question during the Q&A that was totally covered in the presentation!

This one is especially hard for me – but resist the urge to use your phone during a presentation. Presenters work hard on their materials, and looking out to a sea of blue lights can be disheartening.

3. Mind Your Surroundings

Convention is huge, which is awesome! It also means that attendees will scatter throughout the city for convention week. When you are out on the town, be aware of what you’re discussing and how you’re discussing it. Professionals from your division, or an employee at that postdoc you want, could be sitting at the table next to you.

This guy knows to save their critical remarks about the presenter’s outfit until they get back to their lab next week.

This guy knows to save their critical remarks about the presenter’s outfit until they get back to their lab next week.

I want to end by saying that being professional at convention doesn’t mean you have to be a robot, or can’t be authentic or funny. If you enter spaces at and/or near the convention with consideration for yourself and others you’ll be good to go!

House Freud 2

What’s Your House in Psychology Game of Thrones?

The fifth season of Game of Thrones recently ended, and I’m going through withdrawal. Then I started thinking, what if psychology were like Game of Thrones? For those of you who don’t know the show, here’s a quick summary. Set in a medieval, magical world, there is a land called Westeros where there are 7 Great Houses that were principalities now united into one kingdom. These houses have regional power over smaller (less powerful) houses in their area. The king of this world sits on the Iron Throne (a throne made of swords). In the book series and the show, the death of one king has led to an ongoing civil war with different leaders fighting to succeed him. Each House is run by a family (which gives the house its name) and has a sigil, a flag which includes a symbol and a saying. My favorite house is House Stark, which has a direwolf as its symbol and its saying is “Winter is coming”.

I started thinking what would Game of Thrones set in a psychology world look like? I started thinking of which psychologists might lead powerful houses and what might their slogan be. Here’s what I ended up with:

House Freud 2House SkinnerHouse AinsworthHouse Bandura SigilHouse Rogers SigilHouse Sue SigilJoinTheRealm_sigil

 What house would you be in? If your preferred house is not listed, take a moment to create a sigil and think of a funny slogan for your house. You can make a sigil at this link and post it in the comments! 

9 Mentorship GIFs I Wish Someone Had Shown Me in Grad School

Finding a quality mentor is one of the most — maybe the most — important thing you can do in graduate school.  A good mentor can make your career fly like an eagle, or plummet like a rock.  But, despite the importance of mentorship in career building, we receive no training on what to look for when selecting a mentor.

Here are nine things that I wish someone had told me about mentoring during grad school, to help you find the mentorship you need.

1. Your ideal career should guide your mentorship choices.  What do you want to do? Find someone that already has your ideal job and ask them to mentor you.

star wars animated GIF


2. Just one isn’t enough. No one can do it all, so build a team of mentors. Each mentor will have strengths and weaknesses; learn from their strengths, and supplement their weaknesses.


3. It should be reciprocal. Mentorship is a two way street. If it isn’t reciprocal, it isn’t mentorship. Be mindful of keeping both sides of the relationship balanced, and beware if your mentor is the one unbalancing it.

scratching animated GIF


4. Don’t deify. Mentors are just people. They don’t know everything.  They will make mistakes and need feedback on their performance too… unless your mentor is Morgan Freeman… that dude is amazing.

god animated GIF


5. Don’t fall for brands. Famous people/popular mentors are often busy already. Find someone who can spend time working with YOU.

hbo animated GIF


6. Don’t fear the peer. Other students will have great insights and will probably be open to sharing their knowledge with you. Ask for their advice, and help them out too.

wall animated GIF


7. Letting them push you is a good thing. A good mentor sets a high bar for you. But they should also do whatever it takes to make sure you reach it.

yoda animated GIF


8. They should be an inspiration. Find someone who makes you excited, even when the work is hard. They should motivate you to become a better professional, and hopefully also make you a better person.

excited animated GIF


9. Don’t be shy. The worst thing someone can say when you ask them to be your mentor is “no.”

the office animated GIF


Want to learn more about how to find and keep a good mentor? Come to the program on mentorship at APA Convention in Toronto, Thursday August, 6th from 2-3:50 in Convention Centre Room 716A.

What do you think? Do you have other advice you would like to share? Comment below!

Editor’s Note: Daniel Reimer, MA, is Chair of the APAGS Convention Committee and a doctoral student at the University of Nevada – Reno. 


Keep Calm and Beagle On

My heart belongs to a beagle. And considering his desire for attention/affection, he will be delighted to know he’s the topic of discussion in this post.

My dog’s name is Beckett and my husband, Craig, and I rescued him three years ago this summer. As a graduate student in psychology, Beckett is a vital facet of my self-care. He is sweet, chill, and smart as heck. He loves belly rubs, long walks, and baby carrots. He also loves me unconditionally and serves as my unofficial therapy dog. I’m pretty much obsessed:

I should mention Beckett is spoiled. Spoiled. Rotten. I mean, his bed is nicer than ours. I dare say he’s unabashed by the steady stream of attention, grain-free treats, and seasonal collars. He comes by it honestly.

Being strong-willed/spoiled, Beckett can also be naughty as all get out. I’m serious. Within the last month, he has knocked over trash cans (thanks, dude), escaped from my parents backyard by climbing poultry wire (three times!), marked his territory on a girl’s backpack at the park (#mortified), and ate seven dyed Easter eggs.

“You’re welcome,” said the hound to the Mel.  

Currently (and until we are 80+ years old), my husband and I are both students in the counseling psychology doctoral program at WVU. Despite his #beaglemonster ways, Beckett is a constant source of joy for us. That said, and nothing personal to my baby boy, he’s an additional responsibility on top of our academics, research, clinical work, finances, and jobs. In this post, I wanted to provide my perspective on having a dog in graduate school. Frankly, my perspective is one of many but if you’re considering adopting a pet in graduate school, you may find the challenges/benefits below helpful.

Side note, they teach us in psychology to be aware of our biases. Therefore, I will own up front that my opinions about pets will always lean toward the benefits.

Challenges (“Growth Edges,” as we say in psychology) of Pet Ownership:

  • Time commitment – feeding, quality time/attention, taking them out, cleaning cages,  training, etc.
  • Financial responsibility – vet visits, annual exams, nails, baths, supplies, adoption fees, etc.
  • Pets, like humans, can sometimes be on “bad behaviors” (as Craig says) and need to lose some privileges (e.g. my dog)
  • Much more difficult to coordinate care of the animal if you don’t have someone to help you (= me during my first year when Craig and I lived 10 hours apart)
  • Can’t just pick up and leave, always need to arrange accommodations (which can be pricey)
  • Minor annoyances – dog takes forever to do his business, dog wants to sniff EVERYTHING, dog refuses to do his business in the rain/sleet/snow, dog fakes an injury when owner makes him go out in the rain/sleet/snow, etc. (not that Beckett would ever commit any of the aforementioned misdemeanors.)
  • The answer to, “Did I turn off the straightener?” becomes more important
  • Losing a pet is so hard, I know this from personal experience
  • Dog may pee on backpacks (ugh)

Benefits of Pet Ownership:

  • The feeling of unconditional positive regard (see what I did there?) you receive from loving a cuddly (or scaly, fishy, feathery, etc.) being
  • Promote self-care and wellness
  • Provide entertainment/laughter
  • Help you keep a routine
  • Have someone to binge-watch Unbreakable with Kimmy Schmidt and Workaholics with regardless of the time/day
  • Can motivate you to stay active if your pet enjoys walks
  • Companionship/loyalty
  • Keep your feet warm
  • Can assuage feelings of loneliness/isolation
  • Always have someone to talk to even if you’re just talking to yourself
  • Can promote better time management (though I still feel I’m always running from one thing to the next)
  • Can cause you to be less “me-focused” in graduate school
  • Great distraction for long paper writing (cough, dissertation, cough, cough)
  • Owning an animal can be a solid/go-to topic of conversation (e.g. this post)
  • Socially acceptable excuse to take/post lots of pictures on social media
  • Can connect you to a fun/supportive community of fellow helicopter parents (e.g. the dog park)
  • Potentially rehabilitate an animal (you wouldn’t believe it now, but Beckett was skittish, withdrawn, and anxious when we first got him)
  • Contribute to positive social change by demonstrating responsible pet ownership
  • And of course, the opportunity to rescue

Welp, those are some of my thoughts on pet ownership in graduate school. Above all else, if you’re considering adopting a pet, please make it a thoughtful and responsible decision. And to all my fellow animal lovers out there:

Keep calm and love animals on.


Editor’s Note: Melissa Foster is a second year doctoral student from Virginia Beach, VA. She is studying counseling psychology at West Virginia University. Check out her lifestyle blog, Method to My Melness.