For the majority of my time in graduate school I’ve worked on projects alone, it’s efficient (in theory) and I had moved to a new city for school so I didn’t know many people. Recently, I’ve been doing work with a friend. We go to a coffee shop we get work done and sometimes we don’t but we are always giving each other feedback.
We’re in two different programs; her program is actually in a different state. She works on statistical numbers and I work on qualitative analyses. We’re both excited about our work and always looking to learn more. Being able to throw ideas around with someone just as excited about getting work done as I am is motivating. I also find the advice from people outside my scope of research to have the best critiques. Finding issues with statements that I feel explain things perfectly but might only seem to be perfect if you’re also in my bubble of research. It’s also really great to go do work somewhere and if we get worn out talking about research methods we can switch to just being social. I don’t need to figure out how to fit socializing into my study schedule.
Having people interested in what your passionate about strengthens your passion, well, my passion. Although I don’t often have people that I meet and do work with in real life I have a pretty big Twitter community that I’ve started to rely on comfortably. When I have questions about what to include in a paper or presentation I ask the Twitter folk, they tend to come back at me with some really great ideas. They also use #gradschoolproblems and post about the difficult aspects of being a graduate student which is encouraging, because sometimes it can feel like everyone else has things under control. It’s nice to have solidarity in our educational chaos.