GradLife Chic


Such a 'GradLife Chic' Day!

Lifestyle, Reflections, Academia, PlannersMaria Jones1 Comment

As I was reflecting on my day today on the phone with my dear friend Dr. A. Jones, she laughed and exclaimed, "You're having the Maria Jonesiest of days!" I almost cried laughing at the description but it was pretty accurate! Spelman woman, planners, shopping, pink and gold all quite accurately describe my day. In fact, they describe me so well that it felt like the perfect day to reveal my new logo designs and website! 



This glamorous pink and gold reflects my general personality, personal brand, as well as the amazing day I had! I started my day off bright and early at my beloved alma mater, the ILLUSTRIOUS Spelman College. As you may recall from this post last April, I love going back to campus because it feels like coming home and I always enjoy giving back to the community that helped shape the woman I am today. I was once again serving as a judge for the psychology session at Spelman's Annual Research Day and proud of the research that the current students were conducting. Since mentoring is an important part of my love for academia, it is always a pleasure to provide feedback to budding young researchers. After leaving Spelman, I went back to campus in time for my weekly journal club and TA meetings. #GradLifeWin

After my class and teaching responsibilities concluded, I went to go pick up my brand new lifestyle blogger business cards! The cards were designed by the wonderfully sweet and talented Jessica who also designed the new logos for my blog! You can find more of her work at her website here. Not only did she take the time to design a logo that reflected my inner essence so well but quickly designed these cards so that I could get them printed in time for Southeast Planner Con tomorrow! INSERT HIGH PITCHED SQUEALS OF PLANNER NERD DELIGHT! Afterwards, I went to the mall to grab this cute pink skirt to coordinate with the planner goodies I decided to take with me including my mini Day Designer & Target Style mini pad folio. If you're interested in a Day Designer planner you can check them out here.

I am SO  excited to take a short break from grad school life to engage fully in my planner loving addiction! Most of the people in my life are shocked and amused that a Planner Con even exists and can't believe I'm going. I can't either because I get to plan, decorate, and network with the planner community in person! Let me know if you'll be attending because I would love to meet you!

Make sure to follow me on social media at the links in the sidebar for pictures from the event as well as a planner inspired giveaway coming soon!

Restez Chic Toujours!


*Post contains affiliate links. All items pictured were purchased by me and all opinions are genuinely my own.*

Teamwork Makes the Ph.D. Work

Productivity, Academia, ReflectionsMaria S. Jones2 Comments

Happy Sunday Funday! After my last blog post, a few people have asked me what my "Recipe for Success" is in balancing graduate school and my personal life. After giving it some thought, this picture from my regular rotation of desktop backgrounds pretty much sums up my equation: 

Ph.D. Success= Family + Flowers + Friends.

Family-My family keeps me grounded and motivated. I aim to achieve the same level of success as my parents and their unwavering support and love are my solid ground. I strive to set a positive example as the oldest and my siblings' strong #TeamMaria enthusiasm and constant comic relief keep me going.

Flowers-My flowers keep me optimistic and bright. I love keeping flowers in my home. They brighten my space and make me smile every time I walk by them. I like to keep a mix of faux and fresh flowers around so that I can have the benefits of the real ones but enjoy the no maintenance life of the faux ones.

FriendsMy friends keep me laughing and focused. I am lucky to have so many friends who are equally ambitious across a multitude of disciplines and career paths. Whenever we get together, we have lots of laughs, ruthlessly competitive game nights, and discussions that can end in designing an experiment or a business plan. 

Teamwork Makes the Ph.D. Work

One of the things that makes getting a Ph.D. different from other graduate degrees is how individualized it is. Medical, law, seminary, and nursing students for example, go through the same classes and licensing exams together throughout their matriculation. In doctoral programs, however, even doctoral students in your same specialized research lab will be working on something very different form you. We take classes with other students but that is where the sameness ends. In a lot of ways, this can be a lonely process if you don't take advantage of social support networks. Even though we are part of a larger research community in our programs and active members of our lab's research team, your Ph.D. is what you make it. Whether it is seeking out opportunities to collaborate or a supportive sounding board, getting together regularly with others really helps to make the Ph.D. process manageable.


Every Sunday evening, I have an accountability meeting with several other graduate students to keep our research progress on track. Each week we set goals for reading, writing, and professional development and write them into a Google Doc for everyone to see. We make sure that our weekly tasks are working towards accomplishing our semester and yearly goals. Research tasks are our focus to ensure that we make sure to prioritize these since our weeks can easily become overwhelmed with coursework, teaching, committee, clinical (for some), mentorship, and life tasks. Whenever we can't meet in person, we try to meet via Google hangouts to stay on top of our research goals. For me, this has been extremely helpful since I know I needed to work on prioritizing my research tasks and not letting my schedule get overwhelmed by other important tasks that did not further my research career. In my first blog post, I talked a little about how I let my research progress get further and further down on my to do list as I prioritized my health. This wasn't a bad thing per say but it did not help my research progress. Now that my health is more stable, I have been able to keep up with managing multiple research projects and I know these regular meetings have played a huge role in this productivity streak I have been and hope to stay on.

We're All in This Together

I would love to hear about how social support has helped you all! In the spirit of garnering social support networks, introduce yourself I would love to hear more about you! What are your social support networks like? Do you participate in any church or campus organizations that keep you grounded, motivated, and relieve your stress? Do you have a hobby related community that provides the same? The online planner community is one of my current favs! Are you currently in graduate school? Are you interested in applying one day? Let me know in the comments below!


Bermetria Erskine


Natasha Grant

Send me an email with your address to {}

I will be shipping your Day Designer planner and other Target goodies this week!

I want to say a big


to everyone who entered this giveaway!

Make sure to keep an eye out on the blog for more giveaways coming soon!

Restez Chic Toujours!

Conference Chic: What's In My Bag

Academia, Organization, ProductivityMaria S. JonesComment

Welcome back to the Conference Chic series! If you are just now joining me, be sure to check out my posts on the importance of attending scientific conferences here and how I prepare for conference travel with planning rituals and Evernote here.

As a recovering over packer, I challenged myself to just stick to the essentials and I think I did a pretty good job! Knowing that I would be doing a lot of walking, I wanted my conference bag to stay light and yet still have anything I might need for the day. One tip that helped me was the fact that I ALWAYS stay at the conference hotels. Usually the more expensive hotel option, the convenience is worth the expense since most of the events will be held there which reduces your commute. Therefore, I was able to keep my bag relatively light with only my Conference Essentials. My iPad Air, a Mophie extra battery case for my iPhone, my very necessary lipstick, a small plastic envelope to corral business cards I received, a business card holder for my own cards, a conference provided water bottle to stay hydrated, as well as tea and snacks to hold me over during back to back sessions.

What To Wear

Versatility is key here since there are several different situations to account for. Professional attire for presenting and general conference attendance, slightly more casual dinner attire, and much more casual sightseeing attire. Depending on the size of the conference and field of study, attire tends to range from casual to business professional. Personally, I prefer to stick with the classic business casual attire from the airport to the conference and back. I firmly believe one can never be over dressed! You never know who you will run into on the plane and I like the idea of being prepared in case a casual airport conversation turns into a job opportunity. In another effort not to overpack, I stayed with a classically chic black and white color palette and used interchangeable pieces that all worked together to form several different outfits and professional accessories.

I look forward to giving you more tips on how to stay conference chic!

Restez Chic Toujours!

Spelman Research Day

Academia, ReflectionsMaria S. JonesComment

Visiting my alma mater always fills me with a sense of joy and peace at coming home. I served as a judge for the oral sessions in psychology at Spelman College’s Research Day. I love those days that remind you of why you love doing what you’re doing and this was definitely one of them.  As a full fledged night owl, being awake and functioning at 6:00am is usually torture but I was too excited to get to be a judge. As a previous award winning presenter myself, I always love coming back and hearing the work that the current students are doing and providing insights into applying to graduate programs. I know I know, that was a shameless tooting of my own horn but if you don't remind yourself of how awesome you are then, FUN FACT- the constant feedback could wear at your spirit in graduate school if you start to take criticisms of your work personally instead of the constructive manner they are usually meant.

After that aside to embracing you're awesomeness back to research day. I was extremely impressed by my Spelman psychology sisters on Friday! Their presentations were well articulated and visually stunning (I was SWOONING at their infographics) and easily on par with other graduate student presentations I have seen. Made me want to put on my recruiter hat and woo them to my department! Asking them questions about their work and writing my feedback gave me a glimpse of a fraction of what it will be like when I am a faculty member. Experiences like these where I am able to give my time to budding researchers, particularly other women of color, reminds me of how much I love academia and my aspirations towards tenure.

Restez Chic Toujours!

Conference Chic: Preparation is Key

Academia, OrganizationMaria S. JonesComment

Thanks to my Pre-Conference Planning Rituals, the week before a conference is often the most fun time making preparations as opposed to a stressful rush trying to get things together. As you can see in this colorful image here, I am at my desk and browsing the conference website. Since these websites tend to get updated regularly with changes until the meeting, I usually wait until the week before to start planning my time at the meeting. I downloaded the conference app and started familiarizing myself with its interface so that once I arrived at SRCD I could use it to seamlessly navigate the different events.

My new business cards were also delivered this week and I was BEYOND excited to see Doctoral Candidate on them! I highly recommend that no mater what stage you are in of your career that you get some made. I have had a business card since my freshman year at Spelman College when all it had was my name, Spelman email address, and Agent of Change as my "position". I believe they make a lasting impact while networking and makes me feel a different level of prepared and professional. I usually get 250 made and there are a lot of resources for free ones online, your university may offer to pay, or you can get some business card paper from Staples and print them off yourself with Microsoft Word.

This is also when I download the final Program PDF onto my iPad in Evernote. Evernote is my go to app for corralling, tagging, and organizing all of the information that comes into my life because I love how easy it is to find so many different types of information. In order to best prepare for your conference maximizing Evernote's features I suggest that you...


Create a new notebook with the title and year of the conference

Use the Forward Email to Evernote feature for any conference related email updates you get and save them all to this notebook for easy offline access

Download a PDF version of the final conference program and also save it as a new note in this notebook

Use the annotation feature to mark which talks in the program you plan to attend

Take pictures of poster presentations, fliers, and business cards of those contacts you are interested in staying in contact with

Use well titled notes to take notes at the different talks you will be attending

I hope you found this helpful and I look forward to giving you more tips during this blog series!

Restez Chic Toujours!

Conference Chic Series

AcademiaMaria S. JonesComment

Attending scientific conferences and meetings are a large part of grad school life; it also happens to be one of my favorites! I returned from the Society for Research in Child Development’s Biennial Meeting a few weeks ago and am still riding on the productivity surge that attending these conferences gives me.  

Since I am on a leave of absence right now, I almost declined to attend this conference since I was not presenting this year but I am so glad that I went! I was terrified that people would ask me what I’m working on now (which is mostly reading papers in my newer areas of interest and Netflix) but I focused on the direction I want to take my research program and received so much support and many helpful suggestions that it was amazing! 

Attending and presenting at conference’s in your field of study are great for...

  1. Staying up to date on the current trends in your field
  2. Getting feedback on your own work by other researchers 
  3. Gaining exposure to areas of the literature outside of your specific subfield
  4. Connecting with scientists at all different career levels
  5. Reconnecting with former undergraduate classmates and faculty 
  6. Networking with leaders in the field whose work you have repeatedly cited

If you have never attended one of these meetings it can be rather overwhelming especially at some of the larger ones. But I am here to share with you my tips for successfully navigating these conferences. I had so many ideas that the original post became incredibly long and even I did not want to read further than the first section.  So I decided to turn this into a mini blog series! I will be talking about how I prepare for conferences, how to effectively navigate the meeting spaces, networking tips, and other tricks that will help you maximize your time effectively. 


Restez Chic Toujours!