Between traveling to the US, reconnecting with family, preparing for another international move (it hasn’t officially happened yet btw!), going on vacation, navigating team transitions, and catching hand, foot, and mouth disease from our toddler, last month flew by so quickly, I didn’t have much time for the blog. And I had SO many post ideas, just not enough time to actually get them up. Luckily, this monthly Q&A corner is now such a fundamental part of my blog that I couldn’t miss it! A number of questions asked were answered either in last month’s Q&A or in a previous Q&A, so check out the archives here!
Post-Doc, PhD, and Graduate School
Are you nervous about starting your post-doc at all?
Absolutely! I’ve never worked a full time job so I’m nervous about transitioning to working for myself to working for someone else. I’m nervous about teaching a class on my own. I’m nervous about whether I’ll be able to publish and how I’ll balance my time and various responsibilities. I’m definitely doing this afraid!
Are you going to insist that your students call you Dr. Kola or Professor Kola? I’ve noticed many of my white professors like being called by their first names. But Black professors insist on being called by their titles because of the longstanding disrespect that they’re often subjected to by students or other faculty. I was curious to get your opinion on that.
I’ll be having my students call me Dr. Kola for the exact reasons you mentioned. Maybe I’d be cool with being on a first-name basis with students if I were teaching at an HBCU. But with everything I’ve heard about white students’ disrespect of Balck women faculty, especially those that teach on topics that explicitly center Blackness like I do, I definitely have to maintain a position of authority and insisting that I am called by my title and not be my name is one way of doing that.
On top of that, Ijeoma Kola, although my actual name, also to me is my online blogging side, while Dr. Kola is my academic side. Even if I get close to some students of color, I don’t see myself saying hey you can call me Ijeoma, because Ijeoma blogs, while Dr. Kola teaches. Thanks for asking this question though because it definitely got me thinking about how I’ll engage with students of color!
How many publications did you have at the time you submitted your post-doc applications.
Just 1 publication and about 4 presentations. I actually haven’t published anything from my dissertation, which is a big reason I’m doing my post-doc. My one publication is from before I started my PhD so almost 10 years old. I don’t even really count it and don’t know if others count it when evaluating my publication record.
Do you think there are ideal moments or circumstances to start a PhD?
I don’t think there’s any right time to start a doctoral degree. The first step is identifying your motivations for the degree and I think those motivations are easier to articulate with time and maturity, which is one of the reasons I don’t advise undergraduates to go straight into a doctoral program.
I’m debating further studies and wondering, how did you know you should go for a PhD?
I personally just continued on with my education since I went straight through after college, and didn’t give it much thought. But similar to the above question, you have to first think about why you want a PhD and if those reasons support getting it. To be honest, there is not a lot that you need a PhD for, so if you can’t commit to the opportunity cost and lost wages (plus financial investment if you can’t get full funding) as well as a serious passion for research and scholarship, then a PhD might not be the right next step for you.
I just started my Master’s degree. Any advice for me? I was surprised to see 3 classes is a full load.
I’m not sure if you’re going to school full time or working as well, but treat your graduate program like a job and assign specific hours to it. Learn how to read for concepts, not just to turn pages. And make friends because feelings of isolation in grad school can be debilltating!
Find more posts on graduate school here.
Finances & Career
What is your view of cryptocurrency and stock trading?
I haven’t had the time to really do my research on crypto, so I don’t own any. We do own some stocks, but Jonathan manages that side of our finances as again, it’s not an area I’ve done much research on.
What’s your advice for a mid 20s lady just starting to diversity her portfolio of finances?
First of all pat yourself on the back because you’re ahead of the game! Something I wish I did earlier was to speak to a financial advisor, because although I believe in Google University, there’s still SO much information about financial wellness — or as Tiffany Aliche aka the Budgetnista likes to put it, financial wholeness — beyond having a savings account and owning a few stocks. I also highly recommend her book, Get Good with Money!
How do you juggle everything? I recently started my PhD on top of lecturing, running a business, and being a mom, and I am *struggling*. How do you find balance to do it all.
I don’t balance it all, girl I’m struggling too! I average less than 5 hours of sleep most weeks (though challenging myself to get this up to 7 by the end of June and using my Fitbit Sense to help). Some days I’m a good mom and some days the kid watches TV and eats store-bought pouch food all day because I don’t have time for him. Nothing ever gets my 100% and I’ve come to terms with that.
I’m a year plus into blogging and sometimes it gets tiring especially since I share both fashion and lifestyle content. Do you think it is a good transition doing more lifestyle than fashion?
Congrats on making it past a year! I’ve been blogging for over 10 years now so I feel you — listen, unless you’re blogging for full-time income, please just go ahead and blog about whatever the heck you want to blog about. It’s much easier to blog when your heart is in it. So if you find yourself gravitating more to lifestyle content, then talk about that! If you want to do both, then do both! For me, the transition to lifestyle content turned out to propel my brand forward, but I also naturally wanted to talk more about my life than my hair or clothes, so the transition wasn’t uncomfortable.
Get more career content here.
Living Abroad, Moving, Family & Personal Life
How did you find your therapist while abroad?
I started therapy in the fall by using BetterHelp, but didn’t continue because my assigned therapist had some family situation then I didn’t have the energy to start all over with another one and then my free trial ran out. I still have a US permanent address and everything was virtual so didn’t have issues accessing virtual care. It didn’t even occur to me to find a therapist in Kenya, I think because I wanted someone who would understand the Black American experience (not that that’s my full identity, but it’s a significant part). One of the post-doc benefits is that I actually have health insurance (I didn’t in Kenya), so I can more easily access therapy again.
Did you move to Kenya?
We moved to Kenya nearly two years ago and are now semi-moving back to the United States.
How is Baby Kola adapting to the new environment?
We actually haven’t moved yet! We came back to New Jersey for my brother’s wedding, so TKB has been spending a lot of time with his grandparents. We move in August.
What happened to your nanny when you left?
One, we haven’t left yet. But two, we’ve kept her on salary/retainer. We’re planning on being back and forth to Kenya, and she’s really great with our son, so we don’t want to lose her.
Are you planning on selling your Article couch?
While we’re keeping all our furniture in Kenya, we’re actually going to move to a smaller apartment to save money, so my beloved Nairobi living room will be no more. We don’t know yet what furniture we’d be getting rid of, but if a couch were to stay out of the 4 we have, it would definitely be the Article couch. I might let go of our Ikea sectional that has served us since back when we first moved to Jersey City.
When is baby #2 coming? I kid!
I know this was said in jest but it’s never appropriate to ask anyone, especially someone you don’t know, about their family planning.
Any fertility tips? I’m going through this season.
My heart goes out to you! I wish I had some secret sauce or a specific prayer you could say 6 times to magically get pregnant. After a year of trying, which was physically, spiritually, relationally, and emotionally exhausting, I stopped thinking about it and redirected my energy to trying to finish school. But I know that’s much easier said than done so I won’t disrespect you by saying something as flitty as oh just stop thinking about it. So my advice is to keep surrounding yourself with people who uplift and encourage you because it’s hard to do it all by yourself.
Does TKB sleep through the night?
He does! He wakes up around 6:30 usually but sleeps from 8pm through. I was supposed to do a post on how we sleep trained him but when we went to Mexico he started waking up again in the night since we were sharing a room (and also because he was in tons of pain from HFMD which we didn’t know), so his routine is a bit out of whack now. My most immediate advice is get your kid on a daily strict eating & sleep routine — we found that consistency created better sleep.
How do you maintain your cool in your relationship with Jonathan?
I catch feelings quickly and let them go quickly, so I wouldn’t say that I maintain my cool, I just say what I gotta say then move on lol. It’s important to know your partner’s communication style as well as your own triggers, so I know that if I let things build up, I’ll blow up. So I like to address my emotions immediately when I feel them. But also, at the end of the day, and I think I’ve talked about this before, but I not only love Jonathan, I respect him. So even when I’m upset, I never do things like call him names or throw things because I don’t do those kinds of things to people I respect. I try to remember that we’re on the same thing and whatever he did to annoy the heck out of me likely wasn’t intentional.
Have you dealt with grief? If so, any tips.
I haven’t dealt with grief recently, at least not the loss of a person. I do think I’m grieving the loss of who I was physically before I became a mom. So unfortunately I don’t have any tips. I did read Ty Alexander’s Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died a few years ago and kept it aside to return to if and when I experience that type of grief again.