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I've only listened to one or two. (I can't seem to find the time to look for good ones, so I'm thankful for this question - some good suggestions in the responses.) The ones I have listened to were focused on nutrition (I think I'm a foodie). I think I would prefer podcasts like I prefer radio or television shows - filled with information rather than banter. I don't usually think people are as witty as they think they are. LOL
Volunteer work. Working together for a cause is a built-in connection. There are a wide variety of causes to volunteer your time toward, so you're bound to find something that speaks to you. You will always be welcomed and, in my experience, instantly accepted. And the bonus is the good feeling that you carry with you after you've done some good work.
Putting things in writing makes something "real." And putting yourself and your thoughts out there means you risk judgment. Both are daunting, but can be overcome. Start screaming, hear what the void could say back to you, and then feel comfort in the fact that even if you hear what you don't want to hear, you will still be standing. Somebody said "What other people think of me is none of my business." And that really is the trick to navigating life, I think - especially life online.
1. I'm in grad school now. I like going to school and my workplace is paying for my classes. It will help in my career choice, but it won't provide me with advancement. It will just enhance the skills I already have, which I suppose is a benefit for me and my workplace. I have always been in some sort of class or another most of my life. I jump at the chance to start a new class.
2. Not until my 40's.
3. I think a good reason to go to grad school is simply the desire to learn. Or, because it's required for your field.
4. Not for the paycheck.
5. Best state of mind? Interest. Be intensely interested in your chosen field of study and enjoy yourself, regardless of what you might think you will do with the degree.
6. I looked for the ability to take online courses, as well as the ability to spread the degree out over a long period of time.
7. I work full time and take one grad class at a time. I would love to quit work to go full time, but...life, and all.
Good luck. :)