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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 vitae (9)


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.

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.


Seven Tips for Your Teaching Philosophy Statement

CartoonCredit: Writing Peer Kyle CroccoIf you're stressing out about what to write for your teaching philosophy statement, you're not alone. Teaching statements are the leading cause of stress for graduate student job seekers (based on completely anecdotal evidence).

To calm your mind and focus your writing, here is a list of seven dos and don'ts, borrowed from the Vitae Teaching Statement Guidebook, to get you thinking about what you should include and exclude in your statement. 

Do research the school: What’s their mission? Make it yours.

Don’t repeat your CV: They know your CV, but how do you teach a course?

Do relate it your field and research: Will you be using research content in your classes or does your field influence your methods of teaching?

Don’t make empty statements: Cut out the jargon and buzz words. "Everybody cares about the students, wants to challenge them, runs a student-centered classroom, etc."

Do make it real: Focus on a real life moment or two from your teaching that illustrates what you value most in teaching.

Do give credit: Where did you get these great ideas? Who influenced the way you teach?

Don’t make it too long: Keep it short and follow the page limit.

For more help with writing excellent statements, check out this recap of the Instructional Development workshop on Teaching Statements.

Also, Instructional Development will be hosting a workshop each quarter, so look for announcements.


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.


Are Community College Teaching Jobs Stepping Stones to University Positions?

In a recent article, on Chronicle Vitae, Robert Jenkins posed the question "Can a Community College Job Be a 'Steppingstone'?"

The short answer is no. A community college job is not a step to your tenured job at a four year college.

On the other hand, community colleges make up about 40 percent of the available faculty jobs out there (some of them tenured jobs) and it would not be wise to overlook them in your quest for full-time employment.

For more on working at community colleges, check out Jenkins' article.

For another viewpoint on the issue, check out this Monkees video: Steppin' Stone.


The Quick and Painless Academic Job Search Guide

Two weeks ago, the Graduate Division hosted a panel discussion as part of its Academic Job Search Series (read the recap here). The faculty panel bequeathed oodles of valuable information and advice on the different stages of the academic job search, from the perspective of being successful applicants themselves and from their experience of serving on hiring committees.

Vitae has now come out with an extensive guide to the academic job search, written by The Professor Is In's Karen Kelsky. The guide covers the basics of the whole process - from crafting your application materials to negotiating an offer - in a candid and helpful way. Click here to download the free guide.


Vitae Issues Free Electronic Booklet on Academic Career Development

Vitae, the fast-growing community for higher education, has issued a free electronic version of their valuable guide for graduate students and young scholars that covers a variety of topics related to academic career development, including mentoring, dissertation writing, and social issues related to a career in higher education. The booklet represents a small portion of ongoing news and advice services that Vitae offers on their website. Additionally, Vitae has a large database of academic jobs, a free dossier service that lets scholars manage their professional documents, and a network that helps those scholars connect with colleagues, mentors, and collaborators.

To download the free booklet, click here.

Join Vitae and check out all their website has to offer.


Writing Your Résumé/Vitae Workshop for Grad Students

UCSB Career Services is offering a "Writing Your Résumé/Vitae" workshop for graduate students on Wednesday, May 2, from 3 to 4 p.m. in Room 1109 at the Career Services Building. It would be a great opportunity to see what a professional résumé or vitae looks like. Many of us could also use the opportunity to gauge how far along we are toward building credible professional résumés/vitaes for future job talks. Given that UC Santa Barbara graduate students are generally highly interdisciplinary in their research, the workshop could also help serve as a guide to writing our résumés or vitaes in alternative disciplines' format, if necessary, to present accordingly. I am going to try to attend this event so I hope to see you there. 

Here's the full description of the workshop from Career Services: "In the current job market, many graduate students will explore post-graduate employment both in education and the private sector. Each setting requires different job search strategies and paperwork. This workshop will give graduate students an overview of how to conduct a job search in each setting, as well as information on how to write a résumé and vitae."