As a graduate student, you are going to be very busy. I know that should be pretty obvious, but really this is true. Although I’m currently a third year (which means I don’t take classes) I still have a full plate. This is because I’ve taken on more work for my own personal growth as an artist. One of the things I’ve taken on is being the host of a reading series called Caffeinated Readings at the Learning Studio at Columbia College Chicago.
I started working at the Learning Studio my first year at Columbia. I didn’t really expect to get much more experience than interacting with student papers, and a paycheck. The reality was far more rewarding. I created strong friendships with other tutors and the administrative staff. During my second year, a lot of things changed at the Learning Studio. Two of my co-workers wanted to promote the Learning Studio in a creative way. Something that wasn’t going into classrooms and giving a long boring speech to students that were half-listening. That’s when Kellie Buffingtion and Ezra Miller created the Caffeinated Readings series, where students of any skill can read their creative writing and also learn about the services that the Learning Studio provides. When they approached me with the opportunity to host I jumped on it. This was a chance that I couldn’t pass up. It’s a chance to be a part of the series that has been incredible. It’s provided me with the experience of knowing what it takes to help run a reading series, which is something I hope to do outside of Columbia eventually.
At the Caffeinated Reading Series, the Learning Studio provides the audience and readers with pastries and coffee from Peet’s Coffee. Readers are often given mugs or cups. Before and after the readings everyone gets to mingle. Readers are not only English and Creative Writing majors; they come from many different disciplines. This series is for undergraduates and graduates alike. I’ve been more than impressed by the talent that has come through and the supportive creative community that Columbia provides. Many tutors stay and support the event as well.
Graduate school can feel overwhelming when classes seem to take up a lot of your time. But doing things that feel less like work and still keeps you flexing, like your writerly skills, can make the work feel less stressful. Keep an open mind for the activities around campus, and keep an eye out for events around the city that interest you—you’ll be happy you did.