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Enhance Your Career Planning Through Networking and LinkedIn

Linkedin has become one of the top job searching and career planning tools in the world. Whether you are a first year student, close to graduation, or in the middle of your program, LinkedIn offers many opportunities to learn about the professional world and help in you career planning. I also offer many job searching tools specifically for graduate students on my website

If you are just starting out in LinkedIn, follow these strategies to establish yourself in your professional community:
1. Take time to build your profile.
Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume, so be sure to highlight all your skills and work experience. Employers will frequently look at your LinkedIn profile before calling you in for an interview. If recruiters contact you and you are not close to graduation, add them to your network and reach out to them when you are looking for a job.

2. Add alumni from your department and any other professional acquaintances to your network.
After you add someone to your network, you will see their contacts as well. When you apply for a job, you can check if there is anyone in your network or your contacts' networks at the company. If so, ask to be introduced. Don't be shy, because people are almost always glad to help. Be sure to return the favor in the future by offering to help if they look for a job.

3. Join professional LinkedIn groups and participate in discussion boards.
Professional groups on LinkedIn are a fantastic tool to support your career planning. When you join a professional organization, you will get the opportunity to get in contact with professionals in your field, learn about potential employers and view discussion boards. If you are exploring alternative career paths, consider the following groups: (1) Alternative PhD Careers and (2) PhD Careers Outside Academia.

4. Sign up for job alerts
Many professional groups have job alerts. Even if graduation is a few years away, alerts will expose you to companies which are hiring as well as types of positions in your field. If you have a few years left in grad school, you may be able to include marketable job skills into your thesis work.

5. Cast yourself in the best light if you are unemployed.
Examples of your professional headlines if you are unemployed or close to graduation include:
Open to Opportunities in (insert field)
Seeking New Position in (insert field)
Be sure to tailor your profile to appeal to employers. Employers look for specific and practical skills. Job ads will help you to identify which skill sets are valued in your field. Of course, you need to be honest. Companies who are hiring for entry-level positions understand that applicants straight out of school do not have extensive work experience yet.

If you are active job seeker, then daily persistence will be the key to a successful career planning and job searching strategy. Part of your routine will be to monitor online job listings, but a bigger and even more important part will be to follow up with key contacts.
What does it mean to follow up? One of the most important things to keep in mind about networking is that it is a two-way street. While you are still young, networking can help you to find mentors who can guide you in your career choices and maybe even recommend valuable contacts for your job.
Therefore, the best way to follow up with contacts is to request some of their time (perhaps over lunch or coffee) to give you advice on career planning. Never ask whether they have a job for you - even if they do, they will probably not bring you in for an interview until they get to know you better.

Most mentors will not have a job for you, but they can recommend professional organizations, job boards and other contacts that can help you advance your career. If you find a good mentor, be sure to follow up with them from time to time. Job opportunities frequently open up unexpectedly and employers are most likely to bring is someone whom they know and trust.

Many job seekers find that one of the most important aspects of job searching is to develop an efficient strategy. Depending on how soon you need a new job, job searching can turn into a part-time or full-time job in itself. One of the advantages of the digital age is that there are many online tools to help you keep track of new job openings and professional contacts. At the end of the blog I listed some services to help you track new job openings.

I highly recommend a system to help you keep track of your job searching activities. In many cases a simple Excel spreadsheet will be sufficient which lists the dates you applied to each job and professional contacts you have made. This will help you determine when to follow up with leads or contacts. There are professional job search management tools out there as well. One of them is Jibberjabber.com, which has the option of a free account.

Inspire Yourself to Complete Your Doctoral Thesis

Happy April! As winter slowly turns into spring and many of us shake off the winter blues, it is a good time to evaluate your professional and personal goals, and the milestones that you need to complete your doctoral thesis. Do you ever wish that you were more productive work? We all carry the power to inspire ourselves and those around us at any time. In the next few weeks, I will be publishing a series of blogs that include all the tools you need for inspiration, motivation and maximizing productivity to complete your doctoral thesis.

Part 1: Find your purpose

When I was a postdoc, I saw an inspiring quote: "Vision is seeing what will be," which is a fantastic reminder while working on a long-term project such as a doctoral thesis. When faced big projects most students begin by exploring "what" they need to do and "how" to do it. Logical, right? In and ideal world all you would need to do is check off everything on your list and then you get your degree. The problem with this approach is that things almost never go according to plan. There will be setbacks, and perhaps you will be back to square one. Your enthusiasm might wane, and you might find yourself puzzled not knowing what to do in order to complete your doctoral thesis. You might even wonder whether it is worth staying in graduate school.


If you do feel overwhelmed about the uncertainty in graduate school, click here to read the following six strategies for beating stress anytime.


Fortunately, there is a better way to get your doctoral thesis than constant worrying. Instead of "what do I need to do" or "how can I accomplish this goal" I would like to invite you to ask a more profound question. For a few second, consider the following question: "Why" is it important for you to get your degree? "Why" do you want to answer the question proposed in your thesis? How will your life be different once you get your degree? Why is your thesis important for your field of research?

Take for example the true story of graduate student who lost her grandmother to cancer when she was only 10 years old. Her grandmother had raised her, and as she stood by her grandmother's bedside she made a commitment to find a cure for this terrible illness. She kept her commitment in her heart and mind while she completed her doctoral thesis, and as a cancer researcher later on, because she was driven by the desire to spare others from the terrible pain her grandmother had to endure. This student's success, as demonstrated by her publication record and career path, was not due to luck or a very high IQ, but to her commitment to save other people's lives.

While most of us are fortunate enough not to have lost a close family member in childhood, we all have a burning desire to accomplish something for the greater good.

To get your doctoral thesis back on track, really think about "why" it is so important to get your Masters or PhD? The "how" (the actual technicalities of accomplishing your goal), is secondary. If you are 100% committed (like the graduate student above) you will find a way to make an original contribution to your field, help the greater good and get your degree. There will be no hurdle too big for you to jump over.

Once you find your true purpose (or calling), getting the day-to-day tasks done will come with ease. Over the next few weeks I will continue this series by helping you: 1) build realistic short and long-term plans that are in alignment with your underlying purpose, 2) follow through on your commitments and 3) increase motivation (and beat procrastination) with well-tested tools. I hope that during the next week you will find a few minutes to think about your true purpose, why your doctoral thesis and research are so important, and how your life and those of others will be different once you accomplish your goals.

Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D. Thesis and Career Coach
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs

Would you like to finish your thesis or find a job? Click here to schedule a free consultation

Five Steps To Writing a Thesis Proposal

I remember the time that I was in the process of writing a thesis proposal in my second year of graduate school. It had to be 10-20 pages long, which was short compared to the length of the actual doctoral dissertation (close to 200 pages).

Yet, I found myself stuck because as a relatively young student I had to propose how to do an extensive research project that would take years to complete.

There was so much information in the literature and so many directions in which I could take my research, that it was challenging to nail down one project that would have a high chance of success.

After many discussions with my supervisor I finally selected a topic that was a great learning experience for me and also had a relatively high chance of success.

The choice of thesis topic usually involves many discussions between supervisors and students, so click here for one of my earlier articles on how to get the mentoring you need to complete your thesis proposal.

Through my years of helping graduate students finish their thesis on time, I realized that we always used the same process for writing a thesis proposal.

This system is designed to help you draft a thesis proposal that can be completed on time and prepares you well for your ideal career.

Number 1: Choose an area of research that you are excited about

When you begin writing a thesis proposal, your advisor might give you a choice of dissertation topics. What criteria should you use to make this decision? The most important advice that former graduate students have given, is that your thesis topic should cover an area that you are truly passionate about.

Regardless your field, you will have good days and bad days.

On good days you will be enthusiastic and motivated to work. On bad days, you might question whether your research makes any sense, and you might even doubt your ability to graduate. If you pick a meaningful topic, the daily setbacks in your research will not bring you down.

You will still be working in an important field, and you will be learning the skills and expertise necessary for your career.

Number 2: Select a project which balances novelty with established research

Given that you want to finish your thesis within a reasonable amount of time, should you research a novel or "hot" area, or to go with a "safer", better-understood topic? One way to answer this question is to visualize yourself at every stage of your thesis.

How will you make it happen? Can you gather the resources and complete the work by your proposed graduation date?

Most likely your project will take longer than you anticipated, so allow some flexibility to account for contingencies. The general rule of thumb is that things take 2-4 times longer than predicted.

If you have little expertise, begin your work by exploring questions in well-understood areas. For example, you could learn the basics of your field, by extending the research projects of previous students, or trying to reproduce their data.

Starting your research in an area where the methodology has been established will teach you the necessary research skills for your field. Once you learn the basics, you can expand your research by exploring novel areas, and build your own unique niche.


As we have all heard, one of the thoughest parts about writing is the beginning. How do you put the first few sentences on the page? Click here to for the top eight tips to get your writing done faster.


Number 3: Ask well-defined open-ended questions for your thesis

One of the mistakes that some PhD students make while writing a thesis proposal is that they ask "High-risk" questions. The most common type of high risk question is a "Yes/No" question, such as "Is this protein produced by cells under these conditions?"

The reason that Yes/No questions can be "high-risk" is that sometimes the answers are only publishable if the answer is "Yes".

Negative results are usually not interesting enough for publication and you could have spent months or years researching a question that has a high chance of not being published. For many students open-ended questions have a much higher likelihood of success.

In the case of one student in Biology, he thought about asking a question such as: "Do cells produce a particular protein under these conditions?" However, if the answer had been "No", it would not have been publishable. Instead, he phrased his research question as follows: "What proteins do cell produce in these conditions"? or "How does XYZ influence the production of proteins"?

Be sure that your question is well-defined. In other words, when you ask your thesis question, think about the possible outcomes. What results do you expect? Are they interesting and publishable?

To summarize this key point, consider the following when constructing your thesis question:

1) Ask open-ended questions

2) Be sure that your possible outcomes are interesting and publishable

Number 4: Look for projects that are educational and incorporate marketable skills

Think about your progression through graduate school as a pyramid. As the years pass, you become more and more specialized with fewer and fewer people being experts in your field. By the time you graduate you will be part of a small community of people who specialize in your particular area.

On the other hand, you will probably need a diverse skill set after graduation, so it is important to avoid the common mistake of narrowing your pyramid too quickly. It is not necessary to learn all the subspecialties, but do familiarize yourself with the background literature and technical skills in your field.

Some students make the mistake of focusing only on finishing graduate school quickly, rather than taking advantage of the learning opportunities. One way to add marketable skills to your resume is to collaborate on a side-project.

For example, if you specialize in cell culture then it would be advantageous if you collaborated on a project that added a different but related skill set such as DNA/RNA work, liquid chromatography, mass spectrometry or imaging. If you browse through job listings you will get an idea of which skill sets employers look for.

Collaborating on complementary projects will help you to broaden your marketable skill sets, and also help you in deciding which career path is best suited for you.

Number 5: Visualize your finished publication(s)

A physics PhD student I worked with had an advisor who outlined each paper even before the research was started. He wrote down what questions he wanted to be answered, and what each graph and table should show.

This method was so helpful for the student, that he still designs his research papers in advance. As you are in the process of writing your thesis proposal draft some preliminary answers to the following questions:

  • What is your central hypothesis or research goal?
  • What is the motivation for this study?
  • What have other groups contributed to this research?
  • What methods do you need to learn to complete this project?
  • What are the possible outcomes, or results, of this study?
  • What will your tables and graphs show?
  • How does this work contribute to your field of research?

Visualizing your publications while writing a thesis proposal will motivate you to work, because most graduate students feel a sense of pride when they hold their very first published paper in their hands.

Most likely, the answers to the above questions will change with time and you might have several setbacks or forks in the road. Fortunately, most students become more efficient as they progress through graduate school.

Your cumulative experience will pay off during your last year when you are racing to finish your research and your dissertation simultaneously. In the meantime, work on defining your questions and methods meticulously, so that you will have a realistic plan to work with.

The last step in the process, "Visualizing your finished publications", is probably the most important one in the 5-step process of writing a thesis proposal. First, visualizing the end result of a major project is very motivating in itself. Second, publishing a paper is one of the most important steps towards earning your graduate degree.

Most PhD programs require at least one publication. When you structure your research and the writing of a thesis proposal by asking the right questions, you will be able to design a realistic project that canbe completed in time and provides you with marketable job skills.

Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D. Thesis and Career Coach
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs

Would you like to finish your thesis or find a job? Click here to schedule a free consultation

How to Finish Your Thesis a Few Minutes at a Time

Is it possible to finish your thesis a few minutes at a time? It was certainly not something I had planned. I had envisioned sitting in front of the computer for many hours typing incessantly.

Unfortunately, life happens when you are making other plans. In my fifth year I started experiencing excruciating pain in my wrists and elbows, which was later diagnosed as tendonitis (not carpal tunnel, fortunately). As I result I had to limit my time at the computer, which was quite inconvenient at a time when I had to write a doctoral thesis.

My injury was so severe that my arms began to hurt after just a few minutes of typing despite my ergonomic keyboard and pain-relievers. I considered quitting graduate school, but I knew that I was not a quitter. I was determined to become super organized so I could finish my thesis despite my injury.

Through trial and error, I was able to manage my pain by alternating a few minutes of typing with a few minutes of rest and stretching. Ironically, my injury forced me to become more focused and I developed several organizational strategies which I still and also teach my clients.

Here are the top 8 strategies that you can use to finish your thesis more effectively:

1. Delay checking of email and social media by one hour. To this day I always work for at least one hour before I check my email. It is amazing how much better you can concentrate before your mind gets flooded with information from emails. Of course, during this first hour of writing I also limit social media, messaging and any other technology that will distract me. The first few days when I tried this, I felt the urge to check my emails during that hour, but the surge in my productivity was so rewarding that I now look forward to distraction-free writing in the mornings.

2. Determine your top 3 outcomes for each day. Most people don't get everything done they had planned to each day. There are usually unexpected phone calls, emails, experimental results and personal events that get in the way of your plans. Many students go very hard on themselves because they are not as productive as they would like to be. Unfortunately, the tougher you are on yourself, the more likely you are to procrastinate. One way to lift the pressure off your shoulders is to determine in advance your top three outcomes for the day. What are the top three things you would like to complete to call this day a success? You will probably not get to complete everything - most people don't - but you can prioritize your top three goals. To increase the likelihood of your success, choose one top priority, the one that would make the biggest difference. If possible, commit to completing this task before lunch, or even before you check your email. How would you feel knowing that you had completed your top priority during the first hour of the day?

3. Get clarity from your supervisor and thesis committee on what you need to do to complete your thesis. It is amazing how many students need to rewrite parts of their thesis (or even collect new data) because of misunderstandings with their supervisor. Some students are afraid to ask for help, others are afraid of confrontation. In one of my earlier blogs, I describe a simple method to help you communicate more assertively with your supervisor and get the mentoring you need.

4. Determine your "thesis" statement and add layers of detail to it every day. Almost every thesis has a central question or hypothesis, which is (not surprisingly) called a "thesis statement." Your thesis statement is usually one sentence in the form such as "The purpose of this thesis was to determine…". Once you have your thesis statement, you can begin adding details to it every day - background (motivation for study), methods, data, graphs, tables etc.

5. If no ideas come to mind, just write about anything that comes to mind about your thesis. Most students expect to have ideas before they sit down to write, but it is actually the other way around. Ideas are born with writing. When you write (even if those paragraphs will not make it into your final piece) you allow yourself to think creatively. As you write freely, you will be amazed at the number of ideas that pop into your head spontaneously.

6. Write fast. This technique is particularly useful when you are still in the beginning stages of writing and you are trying to get ideas onto the paper. When you write fast, you are blocking your inner critic who will censor you before you put useful ideas on the page. Give yourself permission and get as many ideas as you can on the page.

7. Break down thesis into manageable bits. One of the most overwhelming aspects of writing a thesis is that it is so long. Keep in mind that no one has written a thesis in one day (to my knowledge at least). Some students find it overwhelming to write for even a couple of hours at a time. However, most people can write for a few minutes at a time. For students who have writing blocks I recommend to begin the process with 15 minute writing bursts. Fifteen minutes is short enough to seem doable, but long enough to put at least a few paragraphs on the page. There is also a difference in how people approach writing if they have 2 hours vs. 15 minutes. With 2 hours to write, many students get very ambitious and frequently end up writing less (and slower) than they had planned. During a 15 minute burst, however, students set a very small and specific goal which is realistic for such a small segment of time (e.g. write the methods, begin the introduction etc.).

Balance excellence with perfectionism. Perfectionism is your archenemy during the thesis writing process. Your goal is to write something excellent, not perfect. If you aim for perfect, you will never be done. When you feel your thesis is 98% complete (and revised carefully by professors, peers and editors), it is time to let it go.

To Finish Your PhD You Need a New Strategy

I used to be a runner in high school, college and graduate school. In high school I ran the 800m event, but as I got older I transitioned to long distance events. Those of you who are runners probably know that you need a different strategy to win a 100 m race than a marathon. Here is a question for you. What is the world's record for completing a marathon? And what is the world's record for completing a 100 m race? (Just guess, don't peak).

Currently, the world record for running a marathon is approximately 2 hours and 3 minutes. The record for the 100 m race is about 9.6 seconds. Here is the real question. If the world's fastest marathon runner would keep his pace for 100 m, how fast would he finish? In other words, if he kept the same pace for 100m that he keeps for an entire marathon, how would his time compare to the world record of 9.6 seconds?

It would nearly double to 18s! Clearly, you need a different strategy to finish a 100m sprint than a marathon. If the 100 m sprinter tried to keep his pace for over 26 miles, he would collapse of exhaustion way before the finish line! In college and in industry we do 100 m sprints. We have small (frequently well-defined) projects with short deadlines. Most projects need to be completed in a few weeks or even days. To complete these small projects many people stay at work late, maybe even pull an all-nighter or two. In graduate school we are running a marathon - we have a big (frequently not well-defined) project with a very long deadline, years in the future. Endurance is the key. Late nights at work can only be sustained for so long before you exhaust yourself, even burn out.

To finish your phd you need a different strategy. Most importantly, you need to pace yourself for the long journey, so you can actually complete the event. Most first-time marathon runners just want to finish, and they are not concerned about the time so much. Similarly, to finish your phd you need to focus on taking care of yourself so you can complete your journey.

Here are some tips to help you stay focused and do high-quality work to help you finish your PhD:

  • Be proactive about scheduling time for recreation, hobbies and friends. If you tell yourself that you "will see how the writing goes and then decide whether to go out" you will never go out. Writing and research are never complete, and if you chain yourself to your desk you will be even less productive. Time away from your desk will actually help you to be more creative and lead to high quality results.
  • Establish a regular schedule. This might be a foreign concept to students who go to graduate school straight after college. In college it is common to have an erratic schedule, with late night parties and sleeping in on the weekends. Of course, you can stay out late and sleep in late during graduate school too. However, given the unstructured nature of graduate school it is common for students to fall into an unpredictable schedule. Without strict deadlines it is tough to motivate yourself to complete your research goals. A regular schedule will help you to establish which times of day you are most productive and plan challenging assignments for those time of the day.
  • Plan the weeks in advance. Did you ever come in on a Monday morning confused about what you were supposed to do that day? Sometimes it can take hours to make a plan! My recommendation for the students I work with is to plan their weeks on the Friday before. Friday is a great day for reflecting what you and have not accomplished during the week and then decide how to best plan the week ahead. Set a few realistic goals, and put them in your planner so when you come in Monday you will be ready to go full steam ahead.
  • Acknowledge yourself frequently. In college and in most workplaces there is frequent feedback. Grades from exams and conversations with your supervisor. Many graduate students see their supervisors once a month or even less. During the lonely times it is up to you to give yourself a pat in the back. If you always focus on what you have not done, you will feel disappointed in yourself and lose motivation. However, if you acknowledge every step you take, even the ones where you were not as successful as you had hoped, you will gain self-confidence and become even more productive.

Remember that the number one strategy to help you to finish your PhD is to take care of yourself so you can show up filled with motivation and energy to make the best of every day.

Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D. Dissertation and Career Coach
Author: "The Smart Way to Your PhD: 200 Secrets from 100 Graduates."
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs

Would you like to finish your thesis or find a job? Click here to schedule a free consultation

Job Searching in the Digital Age

It is hard to believe how much job searching has changed in the last 20 years. A good education alone does not guarantee you a job anymore. In the mid 90's, for example, most people got their jobs the traditional way: in-person networking, on-campus interviews and responding to job ads. Today, you have many online tools at your disposal adding several layers of complexity to your job searching strategy. It is still true that many people get their jobs through personal contacts ; "a friend of a friend" in most cases. However, online job searching tools have become an essential part of generating job leads, reaching out to recruiters and making professional contacts. In fact, online tools are also important for people who already have jobs. In contrast to our parents' generation, you cannot count on staying at one job for your entire career. Many people switch jobs every 3-5 years, either out of necessity or to advance their careers. Since the job market is so dynamic, building your professional "brand" is becoming a necessity for every professional.

What is a professional brand?

Your professional brand is the area that you are an expert in, the niche that you are known for in your professional circles. Building your profile in LinkedIn is one of the first steps to developing a professional brand. In addition to completing your profile (education, awards and job experience), be sure to widen your professional network by joining groups in your field and participating in discussion boards. If you are just about to graduate or out of school recently, add alumni from your department to your network. After you add someone to your network, you will see their contacts as well. When you apply for a job, you can check if there is anyone in your network or your contacts' networks at the company. If so, ask to be introduced. Don't be shy, because people are almost always glad to help. Be sure to return the favor in the future by offering to help if they look for a job and giving recommendations and endorsements to people who have earned it.

Since people change jobs so frequently, there is a saying that there are two types of job seekers: active and passive. Active job seekers are looking for jobs, either because they are unemployed or dissatisfied with their jobs. Passive job seekers are usually happily (or mostly happily) employed, but they are always keeping an eye out for better job opportunities. Most employed people today are passive job seekers. While they might be satisfied with their employment, they recognize the importance of continuously building their professional network of contacts and polishing their online presence. Given the frequent (and sometimes unexpected) layoffs and company restructuring, most people are constantly marketing themselves in person and online. Sounds tiring? It can be, especially if you are shy or already too busy with your current workload to have lunch with important contacts or to build your online profile.

Your Job Searching Strategy

People who are successful at branding themselves have built marketing into their professional routines. The best strategy to build your professional network is to attend monthly or at least quarterly networking events where you can catch up with old contacts (find out where they are currently employed), make new contacts and then getting into the habit of following up with them over email promptly after the event. One of the reasons that your online presence is important is that the contacts that you make in person at networking events will probably look at your LinkedIn profile before they follow up with you. Thus, in today's digital age, a professional online presence is necessary but usually not sufficient to get you a new job.

If you are active job seeker, then daily persistence will be the key to a successful job searching strategy. Part of your routine will be to monitor online job listings, but a bigger and even more important part will be to follow up with key contacts. What does it mean to follow up? One of the most important things to keep in mind about networking is that it is a two-way street. While you are still young, networking can help you to find mentors who can guide you in your career choices and maybe even recommend valuable contacts for your job. Therefore, the best way to follow up with contacts is to request some of their time (perhaps over lunch or coffee) to give you advice. Never ask whether they have a job for you - even if they do, they will probably not bring you in for an interview until they get to know you better. Most mentors will not have a job for you, but they can recommend professional organizations, job boards and other contacts that can help you advance your career. If you find a good mentor, be sure to follow up with them from time to time. Job opportunities frequently open up unexpectedly and employers are most likely to bring is someone whom they know and trust.

Many job seekers find that one of the most important aspects of job searching is to develop an efficient strategy. Depending on how soon you need a new job, job searching can turn into a part-time or full-time job in itself. One of the advantages of the digital age is that there are many online tools to help you keep track of new job openings and professional contacts. At the end of the blog I listed some services to help you track new job openings. I highly recommend a system to help you keep track of your job searching activities. In many cases a simple Excel spreadsheet will be sufficient which lists the dates you applied to each job and professional contacts you have made. This will help you determine when to follow up with leads or contacts. There are professional job search management tools out there as well. One of them is Jibberjabber.com, which has the option of a free account.

As you get older and more experienced, be sure to give back to the professional community and mentor younger students. In addition to the rewarding experience of helping a younger person, you will also continue to build your own professional network, especially when you get in the position of hiring young talent into your organization.

Online job searching resources: (be sure to sign up for job alerts/rss feeds)

http://www.careeronestop.org/jobseekertools/

http://www.indeed.com/tools/jobseeker/

http://www.employmentguide.com/

http://www.jobtarget.com/corporate/

http://jobsearch.monster.com/

Most professional organizations have job boards, including automatic job alerts

Online job searching management tool:

http://www.jibberjobber.com/

Are you job searching internationally? Stay tuned for our follow-up article on international career opportunities and job banks.

Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D. Dissertation and Career Coach
Author: "The Smart Way to Your PhD: 200 Secrets from 100 Graduates."
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs

Would you like to finish your thesis or find a job? Click here to schedule a free consultation

Training for Your Thesis Like It is a Marathon

While I was in graduate school, working on my thesis reminded me of training for a race. After all, finishing a thesis requires perseverance, just like a long-distance event. When you train for a race, what do you focus on? Winning of course! Every day while you are training, you visualize yourself crossing the finish line It is your belief that you can perform at your best during your athletic event that will give you the necessary fuel to actually finish the race.

Through my years of helping graduate students I found that those students who complete their dissertations in a relatively short amount of time (compared to the average for their departments) have a very different attitude towards their thesis than those who linger in graduate school for years without significant progress. High achieving graduate students begin with the end in mind. They are usually highly motivated individuals who have very specific goals for graduate school either in terms of their thesis topic, marketable job skills they want to pick up or the career path they want to follow. These highly motivated students see themselves succeeding, and have confidence in themselves that they will complete their dissertations and follow their desired career paths.

Students who have more difficulty completing a PhD thesis usually do not see themselves completing their thesis and defending it confidently in front of a committee. They frequently focus on the obstacles (challenging thesis topic unsupportive supervisor, family commitments), which eventually leads to a negative outlook on their project and career paths. The problem with this attitude is that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more you focus on how little you have accomplished and all the mistakes you have made, the less confidence you will have in yourself which will in fact lead to decreased productivity.

Do high achieving students sail smoothly across the graduate school process without any obstacles or without making mistakes? Of course not. All students make mistakes along the way, have disagreements with supervisors, and might even have personal issues to contend with. However, high achieving students package their mistakes and challenges into learning opportunities, rather than beating themselves up for not making as much progress as they had hoped. The difference in the attitude is small, but critical.

To use a sports analogy, if you trained for a marathon, would you focus on all the rocks you might trip on, and the little aches and pains you will feel during your race? If you did, you would not be very motivated to run. Visualizing yourself winning is one of the key elements of training for an athletic event. Similarly, when you visualize yourself finishing the writing of your thesis and defending it confidently in front of a committee you will actually be more motivated to work on your thesis. Most importantly, you will have increased confidence in yourself to keep on working on your thesis.

This week: Focus on what you have accomplished versus all your mistakes and shortcoming. It can be tough to acknowledge yourself if you feel you have not made as much progress as you had planned. End each day by listing one of two things that you have accomplished. By acknowledging yourself consistently every day, you will feel tremendous increase in your self-confidence, leading to even more results and, eventually, a completed thesis.

Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D. Dissertation and Career Coach
Author: "The Smart Way to Your PhD: 200 Secrets from 100 Graduates."
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs

Would you like to finish your thesis or find a job? Click here to schedule a free consultation

Putting Your Thesis Back on Track After a Long Weekend

I remember how much I used to look forward to long weekends; at least the ones where I actually took a well-deserved break. There was one thing, however, that I dreaded: The first workday after the long weekend. It was not just because I missed the weekend. For me the toughest part about getting back to work after a long weekend was the lack of continuity. Those of you who were off work yesterday (Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday), can possibly relate.


On a regular Tuesday, for example, it was easier to settle into work because I had already started something on Monday which I could continue. (It is true that I worked on weekends many times, but usually it was just for a few hours on an experiment, not a full day). The morning after a long holiday, however, seemed like a maze. As the holiday glow gradually faded by mid-morning, I was suddenly bombarded with feelings of guilt that I needed to do something to get back on track. What do I do first? Check email, work on an experiment or start writing? That was when I began to realize that if I wanted to be on top of my game, I had to set my priorities straight before the long weekend.


It is tough, I know, to make work plans before you a long weekend or an extended vacation. If you are able to spend just a few minutes, however, on making a work plan before you leave for vacation (or even just a regular weekend), it could save you hours of confusion the morning the day you get back. As I got closer to the end of my PhD program and I had to make the most of every day (as I was writing my thesis and collecting data simultaneously), it became essential for me to plan my week in advance every Friday. This new habit, which took 15-20 minutes on Friday afernoon, gave me the opportunity to evaluate what I had done during the week (what worked and what did not work) and to use those observations to plan the next week to ensure that I will make even more progress and get closer to a finished thesis.


This week: On Friday afternoon evaluate how your week went. What did you accomplish compared to what you wanted to accomplish? (I know my memory is frequently hazy by Friday afternoons, but give it a try anyway). Then, think about what you would like to accomplish the following week. List three top priorities, such as experimental goals, writing, or completing slides for a presentation. Based on your top priorities, make a preliminary plan for the following week on what actions you will take to complete what you had set out to do. Setting a structure for your week prior the weekend, will help to make Monday mornings (and the rest of your week) more productive and allow time for rest and relaxation.


Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D.
Author: "The Smart Way to Your PhD: 200 Secrets from 100 Graduates."
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs

Would you like to finish your thesis or find a job? Click here to schedule a free consultation

Getting into the flow of academic writing

Writing a doctoral dissertation is a time-consuming process even if that is all that you do. But the reality is that almost no one does it in a vacuum. Life goes on at a fast pace. You have personal relationships with your family and significant other, finances, a household to manage (not to mention heaping piles of laundry) and preparing for or carrying out a job search.


Who has time to write a thesis when there is so much else going on? And even if you sit down, how can you focus when your mind is racing at 100 miles an hour on all of the other issues going on in your life? I wrote my thesis in about 2-3 months and during that time I was still collecting data (not unusual in the life sciences) and searching for a job. I frequently got distracted during writing both internally (by thoughts that popped inside my head) or externally (a timer for an experiment going off, phone call, or a question from a coworker). It was clear that the thesis was not going to get done at this rate unless I made some changes. So, I set aside a time to write with no interruptions. The best solution for me was to get up at 6 am and go straight to my office before even the early birds had their coffee. I did not check email, but began my writing immediately. I resisted this merciless schedule for a while, especially when the weather was cold. But by the time others came to in, I already had over an hour of writing done. Soon, something interesting happened.


Within a few weeks, I actually looked forward to the chilly walks across the deserted streets early in the morning and the warm cup of tea that I sipped as I began to write. My thesis began to come together ever so slowly, and it was rewarding. Ironically, these early morning writing sessions (which I had resisted for so long) became my refuge from all the other headaches that accompanied my impending graduation.


As the weeks went by, these writing session became longer, and they slowly extended into 12 hour marathons. Finally the thesis deadline came on the horizon. During the prior few months I had worked very diligently on embellishing my thesis as much as I could, but I knew my thesis was not perfect. Initially it was tough to let it go, because of the ingrained habit of perfectionism that had accompanied me since my high school years. I was very fortunate to have the support of a few mentors who encouraged me to let my thesis go when it was about 98% complete. For a nearly 200 page document, that is in fact an accomplishment. I remember the moment I handed off my thesis to my committee. It was frightening and liberating at the same time, but most of all I felt proud that despite everything else going on around me, I had the persistence and the focus to complete it.


This week: If you are working on a manuscript, thesis or even thinking about starting a writing project, block out a time on your calendar when there will be no interruptions. If you are just starting to write, begin with short blocks of time. Set a timer to 15 or even just 5 minutes. If you feel stuck, write about anything that comes to mind, even about why it is difficult for you to write. Notice that once you start to write, ideas will come gradually. The key to completing your project is to write consistently on a daily basis.

Do you want to finish your thesis soon? Are you looking for an academic job or considering alternative career paths? Sign up for a free consultation session today! To schedule your session contact us at dora@finishyourthesis.com.

Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D.
Author: "The Smart Way to Your PhD: 200 Secrets from 100 Graduates."
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs

Is This My Rite of Passage?

The oral part of my qualifying exam was the toughest. I had 1 week to prepare a review of a journal article and defend it in front of a committee. The oral exam was only about 1 hour long (compared to 7 hours for the written part), but it was emotionally exhausting. To put it succinctly, we were "grilled", and well-done at that. My self-esteem was below the detection limit, as was my pulse, when I came out of the room, and sat down in an office chair waiting for the decision.
Interestingly, my spirits were lifted instantly by one of the administrative assistants even before the announcement that I passed.


"Don't worry," she said "It just a rite of passage. They grill everyone to toughen you up."
"You mean I am not the only one who looked foolish in there?" She shook her head "I don't think so." "Wow", I thought, "this was part of the process." It was at that point that I understood that the PhD program was meant to be an obstacle course. The purpose of grilling was to prepare us for the scientific world where ideas are constantly challenged and critical thinking is essential for high quality research.


This brief conversation kept my spirits up for many years as I ran into hurdles with my experiments, and my manuscripts were critiqued, and even rejected. For some reason once I understood that uncertainty and forks in the road were part of the process, I had the confidence to keep going and strive for my Ph.D. degree.
This week: Take note of the most challenging aspects of your thesis.Whatever the obstacle, realize that it is part of the learning process. Is it the thesis itself, the writing or relationship with your supervisor or coworker? Conquering any one of these obstacles will prepare you for the workplace or academic environment, where you will encounter an array obstacles in both research and personal relationships.

Do you want to finish your thesis soon? Are you looking for an academic job or considering alternative career paths? Sign up for a free coaching consultation session today! To schedule your session contact us at dora@finishyourthesis.com.

Best wishes,
Dora Farkas, Ph.D.
Author: "The Smart Way to Your PhD: 200 Secrets from 100 Graduates."
Founder, www.FinishYourThesis.com
Helping Graduate Students Finish Their Theses and Find Their Dream Jobs