University of Central Florida psychology doctoral student
Julia Wright agrees, noting that we show others how we want to
be treated in the way we conduct ourselves and the way we dress.
As an older graduate student returning to school after a 25-year
career as a product design engineer, Wright notes that dressing
appropriately is more important than many students think.
“You should not look like you just rolled out of bed or that
you’re ready to go play volleyball at the beach,” she says.
It’s also about being engaged in the program. “The people I
hear complain about being treated fairly are those who, when
the professor is lecturing or they’re part of a group discussion,
are sitting there surfing the web on their laptops or texting
people on their cellphones.”
Gutierrez urges students to treat graduate school as their
first real entrance into the job market. “People who dress
appropriately, who interact with others appropriately, and who
carry themselves as professionals are going to get the respect
professionals ought to receive,” he says.
Believe in yourself. Have confidence in your capacity
because people can see that, Gutierrez says. But also understand
that you don’t have to know everything to feel and be competent.
“Asking someone with more experience for help is never a
bad thing,” he notes. “In fact, it demonstrates maturity.”
Speak up. When someone implies that you’re too young
or inexperienced, correct them. Point to all you’ve done to
get where you are in your career so far, the research you’ve
completed, the publications you’ve been involved with, even if
you weren’t recognized as a co-author, and the experience you
do have with the field of psychology.
“I think if we all asserted ourselves more — in a respectful
way, of course — we could really change people’s views,” Lima
says. “Our silence endorses the status quo.”
Recognize that it’s not you. Kraha says it’s
important to keep in mind that the disrespect or unfair
treatment you may experience is not really about you as a
person or what you can and will accomplish. It often stems
from a lack of understanding or awareness.
“It always helps me to remember that,” she says. “What
they’re saying isn’t a reflection on you, it’s a reflection on who
they are and where they are in their lives.”
Become an advocate. Gutierrez says it’s never too early
to get involved in activism. As psychologists and psychology
students, we know too much about human behavior not to get
involved in advocating for political or social or institutional
changes. It can also help you learn more about your institution
— and can leave you feeling more empowered.
“I’m not saying that everyone has to go out and form a labor
union, but if you don’t want to feel taken advantage of as a
student, get involved in the system and do something about it,”
he says. n
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