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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Tue: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-noon
Wed: noon-2 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

Mon: noon-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.



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Entries in resource (13)


Think Like an Entrepreneur

As a graduate student, you may think of yourself as more of an apprentice than an entrepreneur. However, intellectual entrepreneurs (such as those engaged in academic research) are those who "take risks and seize opportunities, discover and create knowledge, innovate, collaborate, and solve problems in any number of social realms," according to Richard Cherwitz, a professor in the rhetoric department at the University of Texas at Austin.

In a recent article on Vitae, James Van Wyck encourages graduate students to apply to their career preparation the same entrepreneurial spirit they apply to their academic research. By thinking more like an entrepreneur (or a professional, CEO or revolutionary) and less like an apprentice, graduate students can better prepare themselves for a range of fulfilling and meaningful careers. Van Wyck gives some practical steps you can take:
  1. Begin by evaluating your relationship with your graduate adviser. Even if you have the best of advisers, she can’t help as much when it comes to alt-ac or compatible careers. Run your career search with the help of multiple advisers – an informal board of directors, if you will.
  2. Reject any discourse that figures your career using static metaphors. It’s not all or nothing. It’s not academe or bust. The idea of careers inside, outside, or even beyond higher education may not make sense when you’re in the middle of your career.
  3. Be aware of career choices made by osmosis. If you only hang with one group, you’re likely to absorb the norms of that group. So do a quick diagnosis: Whom do you associate with on a regular basis? Are they a diverse bunch with varying career goals?
  4. Learn to engage with people outside your field and the university setting. If you are going to strike out in new directions, you’ll need to get used to interacting with people who may never have thought of hiring or collaborating with a Ph.D. Familiarize yourself with organizations and people with whom you might like to work by regularly setting up informational interviews.
  5. Don’t only shift your attitude – act like an entrepreneur. Allow for more career possibilities by adjusting your habits, expanding your networks and diversifying what you make. Look up key characteristics of an entrepreneur and then cultivate a checklist of ideas that make sense for you and your discipline.
To read the full article, click here. To get regular updates from Vitae, sign up for their e-mail digest, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.

Top 10 Tips for Negotiating Start-Up Packages

Credit: ImageSourceIn many academic fields, it is common for new faculty hires to receive a start-up package to help them establish their research at the new institution. However, the amount of the start-up package is typically not set in stone, so it is up to you to negotiate for what you need to start a new position. In a recent post on Naturejobs, Jack Leeming gives the top 10 tips for negotiating your start-up package:

  1. Know what you need before beginning any dialogue
  2. There’s no point having equipment if you don’t have any hands to use it
  3. Keep a detailed and prioritised inventory
  4. Remember the little things
  5. Take your time
  6. The process is a partnership
  7. Stay grounded
  8. Get everything in writing
  9. Be genuine
  10. Be positive

To read the full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.


What Does 'Career Options' Mean for You?

Credit: Alexey IvanovThe holidays are not always an easy time for graduate students, who often face incessant questions from family members asking some version of “So what are you going to do with your graduate degree?” This line of questioning can be especially difficult for grad students who may be struggling with whether to continue in their program, or realizing they don’t want to go into the academia, or not knowing where to look for information on industry or non-academic jobs.

In a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, Stephanie Eberle discusses the many different things graduate students can mean when they say they want to know what their "career options" are. This can often be code for such diverse things as "Should I get my Ph.D. or leave early?" or "I have decided I want to go into research academe, but I want to be sure I’m not missing something" or "I know academe is not for me, but I don’t know what is." No matter where you are in the career preparation process, there are no quick fixes because figuring out your career path requires self-exploration and complex considerations.

Consider taking a moment to read this article and think about how you can make next quarter meaningful for your career search.

Lana Smith-HaleIf you want to know more about how I can help, come visit me in drop-in hours or schedule an appointment starting January 4.

Lana Smith-Hale
Graduate Student Consultant
Drop-in hours in SRB 1216: Tuesdays 10 a.m.-noon, 2-3 p.m.; Wednesdays 9 a.m.-noon; Thursdays 1-4 p.m.
Phone: 805-893-4412


Networking: Or, How Karaoke Can Lead to a Career

"At a karaoke party on the final night of a marine-sciences conference in 2011, graduate student David Shiffman signed up to sing a song that another attendee had also requested. The event director asked the two to do a duet, and they agreed. Shiffman has since forgotten the tune – 'Take on Me' by A-ha or 'I Will Survive' by Gloria Gaynor, perhaps. But the two had a blast, and when they chatted afterwards, Shiffman learned that his singing partner was Chris Parsons, then-president of the marine section of the Society for Conservation Biology in Washington, DC."

Credit: NaturejobsIn a recent Naturejobs article on conference networking, Emily Sohn describes how this experience led to many more professional doors being opened for Shiffman in his career as an ecologist. But even if the conferences you go to don't feature karaoke nights (relatedly, who can I talk to to make this a staple of every academic gathering?), it remains a fact that most people – and especially young scholars – put more thought into planning which sessions they will attend rather than planning which senior scholars they want to connect with in between those sessions. In her article, Sohn gives advice on how to be courageous yet courteous, how to not tweet like a twit, and overcoming senior scholar starstruck syndrome.

But conferences aren't the only place that crucial career contacts are forged. In another Naturejobs article, Julie Gould points out the many ways in which professional societies can hold the key to better networking and career advancement. By becoming an engaged member in a professional society, you gain access to prominent scholars, leadership opportunities, and insider knowledge on your field.

To read Sohn's full article on conference networking, click here. To read Gould's full article on how to make the most of professional societies, click here.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.


Making Sense of Your Career Transition Narrative

“No one has to know everything about how you got to where you are. They just have to know enough that it makes sense for you to be there.”

Credit: "Defehrt epinglier pl2," designed by Goussier, engraved by Defehrt. Diderot's Encyclopédie (1762).In a recent article on Vitae, Elizabeth Keenan says that this is the single best piece of advice she got on making a career switch. What's important to potential hires is that you demonstrate your experience (or your transferable skills) in a way that they understand and that gives them incentive to take a risk on you. How do you do this? Keenan gives three specific tips:

  1. Craft a positive personal narrative. Leave behind the maudlin personal narrative that you may have internalized if you've grown frustrated with academia. Instead, present your personal narrative with a beginning (how I gained relevant skills), a middle (what I’m doing to develop them further), and an end (how I can help you at your company with said skills) that explains your transition in a positive way. Practice and internalize your new narrative until it is second nature and it emerges in all of your job application materials.
  2. Your narrative starts with your resume. It can be hard winnowing down your research and academic experience to just the relevant stuff that is valuable to a particular employer. But you have to be ruthless. You may need to go through several drafts and get lots of feedback from different sources. Keenan says, "The lesson here is to focus, but not with such a laser beam that you look frightening to a nonacademic employer. Your résumé should make sense for the position, even if that means leaving off a few accolades."
  3. Don't write an academic-style cover letter. Academic cover letters are often overly long, filled with jargon, and stiffly phrased. A non-academic job letter should be short (which means concise, engaged, and direct) and contain three paragraphs: why you want this job, what experience you can bring, and how excited (but not creepy-excited) you are to change careers.
  4. Don't be afraid to get additional training. Keenan says, "Make sure to demonstrate that you are aware of the standard requirements of your new field. This kind of continuing education shows commitment, which employers like to see in people they hire."
  5. You still may not get the job, even after getting (and acing) the interview. Both inside and outside of academia, there are always factors outside of your control in the job search. This is simply a reality that you have to face.
  6. Changing careers is difficult, but not impossible. As Keenan says, "Focus on the positive aspects of your narrative. Hone your résumé. Take breaks when you feel overwhelmed. Talk with others about your fears, but keep your game face on when interviewing. Who knows? You may end up with a whole new career that you like even more than academia."

Read Keenan's full article on Vitae's website here.

To get regular updates from Vitae, sign up for their e-mail digest, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


What to Do When Hard Work Isn't Enough

Statue of Cain, by Henri VidalWhy do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?

This age-old question could also be applied to the job market. As Josh Boldt writes in a recent article on Vitae, "Why are some people rewarded for sacrifice and others exploited for it? Why does one Ph.D. land a tenure-track position while another is relegated to a lifetime of adjunct pay?"

While Boldt eschews the idea that all success is entirely attributable to one's personal effort, he offers three pieces of advice that he learned through one failed job search cycle and a subsequent successful job search cycle.

  1. Know the power of a well crafted CV/resume and cover letter. The more interesting and tailored your CV/resume and cover letter are, the better. Use your application materials to show your personality and use targeted language pulled directly from the job ad you are applying to.
  2. Effectively manage the value of your labor. As Boldt puts it, "You don’t want to allow yourself to be exploited but you also don’t want to appear to be an inflexible and egotistical ass. You have to learn when it’s OK to give your labor freely (or cheaply) and when you must stand up for yourself and negotiate a better deal." However, even if do decide that give your labor away freely gives you a competitive advantage, don't completely give away your leverage. Negotiate the terms of your free/cheap labor by asking for something in return (such as a contract with clear terms or a promise of future paid work).
  3. Focus on building strategic relationships. Yup, this means networking. Even if you are introvert, make a point to go to events and meetups to make strategic connections with people in your field(s) of choice. Otherwise, when it comes time to go on the job market, you're the only one that can really vouch for yourself and your experience. It's a lot easier when that labor can be distributed among a network of people who know you and your work.

Read the full article on Vitae's website here.

To get regular updates from Vitae, sign up for their e-mail digest, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


The Science of Networking

When you think of networking, what is a metaphor that comes to mind? Speed dating? Collecting poker chips to cash in later? Sowing the seeds of future career success?

Credit: Gillian Blease/GettyIn a recent article on NatureJobs, Peter Fiske compares the concept of networking with that of valence bands in chemistry. Now, I'm not a scientist, but I am a linguist, so I know a thing or two about valence. (OK, full disclosure, I know exactly two things about linguistic valence: it's a thing and it involves how grammatical elements combine in a sentence.) In scientific fields, valence is related to the combining power of an element. When you think about networking, think about the availability and investment of people in different "shells" that radiate outward from yourself.

  1. In the first shell of your network are the people you know firsthand. Many young scholars assume that friends and family members in their valence band who are outside their academic field hold little professional networking value. In reality, friends and family members have their own networks, and those networks may contain a few people who might be able to help you in your job search or with career development. And because your friends and family members know and care about you, they are often eager to do whatever they can to help you, including warmly introducing you to anyone in their own networks.
  2. The second shell of your network (your friends' friends and contacts) plays a huge part in fostering your career progress and development. For one thing, there are a lot of people at this level. If your immediate network consists of 150 people to whom you feel comfortable asking for help, and each of them has a similarly sized network, theoretically, you have a "conduction band" in your network of 22,500 people. At least a few people will be in careers or positions in which they could be of enormous help to you.
  3. Although the numbers in the third shell of your network (friends of your friends' friends) are huge, their utility in your career is limited. Third-shell people share no personal connection with you and so are not predisposed to help you. If you want to communicate with a third-shell contact, you should first solidify your relationship with the person in your second shell who connects the two of you. In effect, you are turning the second-shell contact into a first-shell friend. 

As always, at the heart of networking is maintaining personal relationships. This is where many networking metaphors come up short or set people up for disappointment. Networking is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of endeavor, and no one in your professional network wants to feel like you are just being opportunitistic in connecting with them. Take the time to get to know people and their story. Coincidentally, this will also aid in not feeling sleazy about networking.

And remember that your network operates in two directions: the degree to which you help others is often linked to how much help you yourself receive. Your network becomes stronger through the help that you give. A well-tended and extensive network is one of the most valuable assets for professionals in today's economy. Those who invest in both their work and their relationships will reap the greatest number of opportunities.

To read Fiske's full article on NatureJobs, click here. Also, for more advice on networking from a graduate student's perspective, read Rachel Harris' companion article on the NatureJobs blog.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter.


Making Mindfulness Part of Your Job Search Toolbox

"I'll never find a job."

“My adviser won’t give me a recommendation if I tell him I’m exploring careers outside of academia.”

“Why did I say that in my interview? That was so stupid. I completely ruined my chances.”

Walking the UCSB Labyrinth is a great way to practice meditation and mindfulness. Credit: BrianWe all have a little voice in our heads. Sometimes it can be complimentary, but often it’s a nagging sense of negativity. In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Sue Levine writes that self-talk is one way in which we interpret the world around us. When the stressors of graduate school, life in general, and the unpredictability of a job search converge, self-talk can become self-defeating and quickly spiral downward into excessive negativity.

Practicing mindfulness as part of your job search can help lessen the anxiety. Caroline Contillo, columnist at Idealist Careers, writes, "Mindfulness is the quality of being able to stay with the present moment on purpose and without judgment." You are working to train your mind to notice stressful thoughts, but to minimize the response to them. Levine lists several pieces of advice for practicing mindfulness:

  • Be intentional. Instead of just clicking “apply” and submitting résumé after résumé, develop a plan and be intentional about the applications you submit. The blanket approach is usually not very successful, and search committees or hiring managers can tell when someone has applied to a job without really thinking about it.
  • Practice breathing meditation. Set a timer for a certain amount of time, such as five minutes. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and count your breaths from one to 10, and then backward from 10 to one. If you find your mind wandering, just slowly bring your attention back to the present.
  • Be in the moment. Don’t focus on the past and don’t relive past job search blunders. Focus on the job search task at hand and you will be better positioned to combat negative thinking.

Read the full article on Inside Higher Ed's website here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, like it on Facebook, and follow it on Twitter.


Advice for Aspiring Academics

Credit: GotCreditPublish or perish. Fortune favors the bold. Trust no one.

These disparate pieces of advice may sound familiar to those interested in going on the academic job market. In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Philip Nel offers up a dozen tips to help you in your hunt for that ever-elusive tenure-track position. Here are a few samples from that list:

  • Publish everything. Conferences papers are already half of an article or book chapter.
  • Believe in and doubt merit. Believe in merit because it motivates you to produce and inspires you to keep going, despite the odds. But doubt merit because the vast number of Ph.D.s on the job market means that merit will never be enough.
  • Make your CV easy to read. Look at other people’s CVs online: Which ones are easy to read? Model yours on those examples. Which ones are confusing? Avoid their mistakes.
  • Recognize the limitations of this advice. Advice may sometimes seem absurd, paradoxical or impossible. There is no magic formula to landing the elusive tenure-track job.
  • Do not define success according to academe’s terms. Given the scarcity of traditional academic careers, there are many reasons not to pursue a traditional academic career. Seeking an alternative-academic job is not failure. Leaving academia altogether is not failure. You have much to offer your community. You can do many things.

To read the full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


How to Cope with the Challenges of a Career Transition

Credit: "Defehrt epinglier pl2," designed by Goussier, engraved by Defehrt. Diderot's Encyclopédie (1762)Coming to a career transition point can feel an awful lot like failure. But, as Elizabeth Kennan argues in a recent article on Vitae, failure can actually be a useful thing. She offers some straightforward advice from her experience with a career transition:

  • Read the books and take the personality tests. Your skills will fit in a lot of different places – some you expect and others you don’t. So ignore the quiet voice in your head that keeps telling you it’s useless to take personality tests or read books about changing careers. If you can get that voice to shut up, you will learn how you work and what your values are, and find career paths that match those values. Visit our campus Career Services desk to sign up for the assessments.
  • Ask for help. Talk to a job coach, career counselor, family member, or friend to offer encouragement, advice, and connections.
  • Do a lot of informational interviews. These can provide useful insights such as a lot of people have unpredictable career paths, the importance of figuring out your personal narrative, and that there may be certain careers you should avoid.
  • Don't be a career snob. Well-meaning friends and family (and even you) may express resistance against a career that may be suitable for you just because it's deemed "low status."
  • You will have bad days. Mourning and second-guessing are normal parts of the career transition process. The more you embrace this, the easier it will be to let go.

Read the full article on Vitae's website here.

To get regular updates from Vitae, sign up for their e-mail digest, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.