by Katrina Oko-Odoi
Too many graduate students think that if they excel in their classes, meet their program's deadlines for advancement to candidacy (or Master's thesis defense), and develop good relationships with their professors and advisers, they will be well prepared to enter the job market when the time comes. This belief has never been more false, especially in light of the recent economic crisis. While being proactive and involved has always been a valued quality in graduate students, it is more imperative than ever to make a name for yourself in your graduate program and your field if you want a good chance at landing a job once you complete your degree. That's where professionalization comes in.
Professionalization can be a daunting concept for those who are just starting out in their graduate career, but if you follow a few simple guidelines, the process will be much less painful. Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself along the way! In a nutshell, "professionalization" means the actions and decisions you take related to your growth and prominence as a scholar in your field. This relates to several different facets of your graduate career, including:
-Professional relationships you develop
-Academic/teaching positions you hold
-Leadership roles you take on
-Professional associations you join
-Professional conferences you attend
-Articles and books you (eventually) publish
But let's take it one thing at a time. My biggest piece of advice would be to start small and be patient with yourself. Becoming a professional in your field is a gradual process, and you can only gain experience and confidence through experience, which you build over time. Depending on your degree program, you have up to six or seven years to become a full-fledged professional, so take it slow.
THE FIRST STEPS IN PROFESSIONALIZATION
1. Begin within your department and university. The strongest and most important relationships you will forge will be with the faculty who are your immediate advisers and instructors.
o Make an effort to meet professors who have similar research interests.
o Take at least one class with those professors. Go to their office hours occasionally to touch base and chat about your common research interests or ask for their guidance on what current literature you should be reading to stay current in your field.
o Make friends with graduate students who are more advanced than you in the program. They are a great resource and are often your most supportive and understanding allies in your program.
o Avoid department politics. Yes, there are politics within any graduate program/department. There are professors who don't work well together, certain staff who clash with certain faculty, and even graduate students who don't get along with particular professors or staff. These issues may seem petty to you, but stepping on the wrong foot or offending the wrong person could seriously hinder your success in the program. Ask your friends who are more advanced in the program about any departmental politics you should be aware of.
o Volunteer to participate in department events like new student orientations and open houses, or to serve on a departmental or university committee.
o Attend department events regularly, especially those related to your research interests.
2. Become familiar with your discipline. Get to know the current issues being discussed by scholars in your field, and figure out who the most senior, respected scholars are within that circle.
o Ask your adviser or colleagues what professional associations would be appropriate for you to join. If you can afford to pay the membership fee, join at least 1 or 2 of the main associations related to your discipline (they usually have reduced rates for graduate students).
o Begin to read peer-reviewed journals related to your discipline and research interests (many professional associations publish their own journal, so as a member, you would receive journal issues). Once again, colleagues or faculty advisers are great resources for this type of information. You don't need to subscribe to these journals right away; you can check out the most recent issues from your university library for free. Peruse the articles to get a sense of the type of scholarship being produced in your field, and to begin familiarizing yourself with the writing style of the articles. It could be your article published in that journal in a few years time.
o Join email listserves related to your discipline within your university and on a regional or national level. Many professional associations allow non-members to subscribe to their listserve. Also, different schools or divisions in your university (Division of Arts and Humanities, for example) maintain email listserves that provide useful information about upcoming events as well as funding opportunities, etc.
Like I said, start small. As you become more comfortable in your field and you build confidence in yourself as a scholar, you can slowly start to widen your professional circle. But that comes later. For now, focus on getting to know the terrain, and you can learn how to navigate through the speed bumps and potholes when you're ready.
Best of Luck,
Founder and CEO, EditingWorm.com
This article is an excerpt from Katrina's forthcoming book on graduate student professionalization
For more tips on thriving in graduate school and beyond, check out Katrina's scholarly blog: http://editingworm.com/blog/
Often as graduate students the thought of becoming involved in a campus organization seems like a concept from our undergraduate past. After all, as our academic clock starts ticking many of us struggle with the idea that free time could be "better" spent on articles, research, and presentations. A year ago I paid little attention when the student-run journal in my department announced they were seeking a new Managing Editor, quickly putting together the list of excuses for why I was too busy to commit. But later that evening, I sent an email inquiring about the position, and requesting to meet with the current editor to ask a few questions.
That week I took over as Managing Editor, sharing responsibilities with a fellow student. Neither of us had ever run an academic journal before, but that's the point of student-run journals, they are meant as a first step into the world of academic publishing. If you plan on pursuing an academic career, this is your chance to familiarize yourself with the publication process before submitting your first journal article to be reviewed, edited, and hopefully accepted.
During the course of the year and with the help of our Editorial Board, we developed a theme and wrote a call for papers, learned to orchestrate the submission review process, sent rejection letters with heavy hearts, worked with authors to bring their articles up to publication standards, and saw first-hand how authors from around the world responded to the editing process. We shared excitement over receiving the first submissions, and momentary panic the day we wondered whether our theme might be too narrow to attract enough workable submissions to fill the volume. We spent hours in our office pouring over edits, filling subscription orders, and enjoying the sense of community that builds among people who are equally committed to the success of a project.
Universities are often host to a variety of student-run journals. For instance, UCLA boasts more than 30 titles in fields such as law, ethnomusicology, history, and education, among many others. Although there are more departments than journals, students are often involved with publications beyond the technical scope of their field, promoting cross-disciplinary engagement. For our journal in urban planning, it is common to receive messages from students in the social science inquiring about participation with our journal as article reviewers or even members of our board.
If your home department does not have a student-run journal, there are likely others on campus eager to hear from interested students -- locating titles could be as easy as an internet search for your campus publications office. Or start your own. Our journal began 20 years ago as a zine-like publication with a hand-drawn cardboard cover that featured student research and department news. Today our professionally-bound volumes contain cutting edge research from authors at world renowned institutions, and are sent to hundreds of libraries, scholars, and practitioners.
As you read this, boxes of our journals are on the way from the publisher and awaiting distribution. I'm looking forward to seeing the tangible evidence of our years work, but most of all I'm thankful I didn't talk myself out of what has proven to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my graduate career.
Nina M. Flores is the former Managing Editor of Critical Planning, a student-run journal in the Department of Urban Planning at UCLA. She will be part of a roundtable this fall discussing the future of student-run journals at the Annual Meeting of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) in Cincinnati, OH. For more information about Critical Planning, visit our website at www.criticalplanning.org, or like us on facebook.
The graduate market in 2012 is set to be defined solely on a candidates work experience. Recent research has shown that Britain's top employers are going to be recruiting more graduates within the next year, but that a record number of jobs will be filled by graduates with relevant work experience.
High Fliers Research revealed that although there has been a gloomy outlook for the economy, the number of graduate vacancies will rise - especially for those who are just leaving university in 2012. This will make it the third consecutive year that the number of available graduate jobs has grown. Graduates can be expected to see an increase across the board with a large amount of growth within the financial services - an expected growth of 25% from the figures in 2010 and 34% growth from the lower figures of 2008.
What does this mean?
The report had an overbearing theme throughout; the requirement of work experience. Employers stressed that although a larger amount of graduates will be hired, those without relevant work experience after graduating will be at the bottom of the pile in terms of competition. This is particularly relevant when it comes to the most prestigious graduate employers that offer graduate schemes and jobs - 36% of the vacancies are predicted to be filled by candidates that have already had work experience within the organization during their studies.
How can I get Experience?
Trying to find relevant experience within your chosen industry may be quite difficult depending on the level of competition. A position in marketing for instance may be highly contested as it is a popular subject. However, you will often find that smaller organizations may not openly advertise positions but could be persuaded to take you on if you approach them in person. A personal approach is often the best way to gauge a company's interest in taking you on for work experience and to show the company that you're truly interested in a short term placement.
Familiarity could also be essential in you helping you get you a placement. For example, find an event that the company is sponsoring offer yourself as a volunteer. Take this time to learn a little bit more about the company and think about going to Human Resources and asking them about potential placements/internships or schemes. Hopefully, when it comes to the application process, the fact you have met before should help your application stand out from the crowd (with any luck they will recognize your name).
Your CV is of the utmost importance, you rather than designing you CV to look like everyone else's out there, make sure it is tailored to your prospective profession. Search the web or use any contacts you may have to craft the perfect CV. Although experience is important, the way in which you present your best qualities can often be the difference between a job or not. Also, do everything you can to get personal recommendations as not only will they help give credence to your CV but they will show your prospective employer that you can network as well as highlighting your clearly hard working nature.
Another useful resource that may often be overlooked is the careers service provided by your university. These invaluable services are created in order to give graduates advice and guidance for their chosen career path. This will include placing students on work experience placements and knowing the right contacts within each industry. If you still need further help then seek out the lecturers themselves - undoubtedly they will have contacts within agencies and if not they will know who the key players are or what graduate program is worth considering.
As undergraduate education becomes more accessible and affordable, exceptional students are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from the pack. Attending graduate school is one way to give yourself an edge. A masters degree signifies expertise on a given topic, and employers see this high level of education as a sign of a strong work ethic. If you've developed an academic passion, graduate school allows you to put your best foot forward on the path toward landing your dream job. With institutions evolving to meet the needs of potential students, there may be no better time to consider the advantages of graduate school.
Graduate school offers students an in-depth look at a chosen interest and prepares them for the professional challenges and opportunities associated with that industry. While undergraduate programs offer a broad scope of academia and give you an idea of the many majors in college, graduate programs focus on providing students with tools needed to succeed. The right graduate program will give you the insight and experience to hit the ground running as you enter the workforce.
While the education process is rewarding and important in and of itself, it also represents the means to a brighter future. The ability to gain employment after graduation is important to consider when creating an education plan. While a bachelor's degree has traditionally been a ticket to long-term employment stability, some experts believe that the pool of job-seekers with four-year degrees is oversaturated.
"A bachelor's is what a high school diploma used to be," American Association of Colleges and Universities representative Caryn McTighe Musil told the Christian Science Monitor.
The 2010 census revealed that 30.4 percent of Americans over age 25 held at least a bachelor's degree, compared with 10.9 percent who hold a graduate degree, according to the New York Times. A graduate degree puts you in an exclusive class of Americans, an advantage that stands out in a stack of resumes.
Not only does a graduate degree offer short-term advantages in the job market, it's also beneficial in the long run. On average, those with a master's degree earn $2.67 million over their lifetime, nearly half a million dollars more than those with only a bachelor's degree, according to U.S. News. The academic rigors and scheduling obstacles associated with graduate school may seem overwhelming, but the opportunity to earn higher compensation usually validates the struggle.
The hands-on nature of many graduate programs transforms the traditional teacher-student relationship into a mentorship. Teachers and students often engage in research together, acting as peers. This foundation of respect fosters personal growth and professional trust. A graduate-school professor can become your best reference, offering an up-close and personal account of your knowledge and ability. If you're looking to put your work ethic on the line commit to a graduate program, the dividends can be invaluable.
Countless hours in the library, years of living on nickels and dimes, and what seemed like a lifetime before it was finally over, finishing grad school marks the end. But for some, it's just the beginning to an academic career. Law and medical schools have some of the most competitive admissions standards in the country, and if just making the grades wasn't stressful enough, now you have to write the perfect essay. Websites that offer assistance tools like a graduate school statement from AdmissionsEssays.com are a popular resource for some help, but still prospective students will spend more time than is healthy crafting an essay they feel will guarantee them admission. Before you lose an unreasonable combination of hair and sleep over the matter, consider these facts about what makes the essay important, but also why you can breathe easy about it.
Why the Essay is Important
Anyone can fill out the application with a hearty list of academic achievements, but an essay requires thought, skill, and time. Because of its importance in the admissions process, it must be well written. Applicants must use interesting content, logical progression, excellent grammar, and proper spelling. A poorly written essay can ruin a student's chances of getting into the school of their choice. But as bad as it seems now, it is getting easier...
How Essay Requirements Are Changing
Harvard Business School recently announced essay changes that provide good news for future applicants. Instead of four essays with 2,000 total words, applicants now submit two essays totaling 800 words. The essays answer two questions. First, "Tell us something you've done well," and "Tell us something you wish you had done better."
For applicants who make the first cut, they must submit a third essay within 24 hours. This one answers the question, "What do you wish you had said during the interview but didn't?" Potential students receive this additional opportunity to offer the final say and pitch themselves as a quality candidate for the program of their choice.
Other colleges are following Harvard's example. As programs require more introspection from students, the essay requirements reflect these ideals. Make sure you understand the difference between each essay requirement, though. Every school uses different questions to gauge the caliber of their applicants.
How To Make An Essay Stand Apart
For medical and law school admission, applicants must not slack in this area of the application. The submission must engage the reader and answer the question within the word count. For the best results, a professional editor can proofread the essay before submission.
Additionally, applicants must allow their personality to shine. The essay is a chance to show personality, apart from academic performance. It should not merely rehash academic qualifications. Most of the other applicants also have excellent grades. The essay allows an individual to promote him or herself and personal anecdotes or stories make a favorable impression.
Because the admission essay plays such an important role in the application process and indicates an applicant's preparedness for the graduate school program, many applicants hire professional writers to create a good impression. With new essay requirements, hiring someone to write an admission essay could be challenging, especially since the admissions counselors want to hear from the individual applying for the program.
Why Applicants Shouldn't Stress
The admissions counselors want applicants to succeed. Because the process can be grueling, the change in essay requirements eases the burden on qualified students. Regardless, applicants should take their time, engage the readers and spell check. They should be themselves and use the essay to share personality and individuality. With this approach, the essay requirements for law or medical school can be less stressful experience.
Here's a tune that's already been overplayed this summer; "Well, classes are over, so I'm sure you have plenty of time on your hands."
Other variants include "What are you up to now that classes are over?", "Got any major summer plans?" or even the dreaded, "Your schedule must be so open and free now that the semester is done!"
It's a fairy tale that we tell ourselves as well; one wrought in the stardust of childhood fancy recalled in a luminescent rose-hued haze while dandelion fluff floats over the memory. Summer means vacation. Summer means freedom. Summer means long lazy days of sitting outside with a nice cooling beverage, barefoot, while reading a book simply for the pleasure of turning pages.
Nobody likes to admit that they've had their last summer vacation and, especially for those of us who took a good hard look at the real world then went scuttling back to the bosom of academia, summer is the pristine, shining light at the end of a dark, dank, twisted, stressful tunnel.
And this first year of my PhD was no exception. "Summer", I thought, would mean time to augment my reading. It would mean time to rest. It would mean time to catch up with myself, my friends, my life, my housecleaning. It would mean relaxing, rejuvenating, and unwinding from this stressful thing that I've been fighting through with everything I've got for the past nine months.
And when I was done rejuvenating, I could brush the dust off of some of those projects I've been sitting on from my Master's that never went anywhere but I think are publishable material. I could even get a jump on my comps reading. Heck, summer would be a great and wonderful time, a veritable promise land where the books flowed freely and the caffeine was only there for when I desired it, not when I was using it to replace some of life's other necessities (sleep, food, friends...).
Well, I was wrong. And, to a certain extent, I feel like I've been lied to.
My summer has been no less busy that my normal life. Oh, sure, I don't have specific paper deadlines to contend with; instead I have amorphous summer-long (and, really, life-long) projects to battle. To fulfill one of my language requirements, I'm taking a German for reading class. No problem, thought I as the semester was underway. Two classes a week for two hours apiece was nothing compared to three classes a week for three hours apiece. I bet there wouldn't even be (literally) thousands of pages of reading for this class! Well, yes, my weekly in-class hours are technically shorter, but covering this material requires a great deal of time and dedication outside of class in order for it to mean anything. In addition, I'm working on an acting edition of Measure for Measure for a production which I'm dramaturging over the winter. No problem, I know Shakespeare, I could do this with one eye closed. Au contraire. Again, the amount of time and dedication required to truly fulfill this project is vastly larger than I had estimated.
Where is the strawberry lemonade? Where are the unending plates of grillable meat products? Where are the flowering fields through which to frolic?
Not here, let me assure you. I haven't cracked my comps books yet. And my ukulele is sitting the corner sadly under-practiced. And no, I haven't had a chance to even sneak a glance at Fifty Shades of Grey despite my mother's urgings.
Most importantly, though, I've been forced to come to an extension of the conclusion that I've been touting all year: academia really is a full-time job. It's not full-time-most-of-the-time. It's not full-time-when-I'm-not-on-vacation. It's not even full-time-when-I-want-it-to-be. It is, simply, always going to be part of your day. To succeed as an academic, you had better always have projects on your desk. And if you don't, it's time to sign up for some more.
The good news here is that, because I am still hammering at projects despite the fact that I've already installed my air conditioner (we had a run of eighty-degree days here in Boston last week), it means I'm on the right track. This determination, this compulsion, this inability to be satisfied with the work that I have done and drive to continue with the work that I will do, is what is going to make me successful in my chosen career and a sure-fire sign that I've chosen correctly.
And I couldn't be more grateful.
...despite the fact that I have to repeatedly explain all of this at mimosa brunches with my lady-friends, beer and wings night with my boys, dinner-and-a-show with my nearest and dearest, every summer barbecue, large awkward parties with people who don't even know what my field is, and assorted/sundry family gatherings.
Danielle Rosvally is a PhD student in Drama at Tufts University specializing in Shakespeare in performance. She holds an MA from Rutgers University and a BA from New York University. In addition, she has trained as an actor at such institutions as The American Globe Theatre, The Actor's Institute, Shakespeare & Company, and the Royal Shakespeare Company. She publishes anecdotes about her academic adventures via her blog; http://www.daniprose.com.
"You're determined", my supervisor commented during a progress meeting. I've never thought determination is a quality that I've had all along but I'm sure it's a quality I've improved upon during this dissertation journey. It took me 7 years before I decided to go back to school. Working full-time as an IT administrator while studying part-time for a Master in Computer Science has enlightened me in the last 3 years. Now that I'm near to the finish line, I'm reflecting on my learning experience in this journey, something that I'm proud to have experienced in my life. I don't regret embarking on this journey, though the thought to give up did cross my mind at times when balancing work and study were difficult. It's like juggling a few balls with two hands; trying hard not to let any fall to the ground, while at the same time keeping them as high up as possible. As if that's not enough, there are always more to juggle: new events in life, family commitment, work pressure, and of course, writing pressure. Just thinking of the juggling act can cause me stress.
That's the reality I faced while doing a master's dissertation. Let's not think about what entails in doing a PhD, which is far from my goal right now. As a matter of fact, life is always about juggling act even if you are not studying. I'm sure if we are studying full-time or even working full-time, we still juggle around all aspects of our lives. It's just a bit harder with added studious commitment, together with a full-time job that requires at least 9 hours of my time working in the office daily. Nonetheless, nothing is impossible. I've proved that I can do it no matter how difficult it is, so I'm sure other people can do it too. That's where determination comes in to play. The desire to succeed has to be so strong that nothing can deter us. I've known many people that wanted to give up during this dissertation journey because the process was overwhelming and success was not immediate. Many tend to let go when facing obstacles, of which there are many in life regardless in working or studying. People sometimes choose the easy way out because it's easier to give up than to pursue something difficult.
The worst enemy in writing a dissertation is procrastination. Procrastination is common, but it can be overcome with correct techniques as long as we want to succeed. During the journey, I found many helpful peers that were more than willing to provide support. The twitter community became my best support system, and I really appreciated all the help I get throughout the journey. I also learned that worry doesn't help in any way, so I worry less nowadays. I focus my effort on completing tasks, especially writing my chapters and journal article. I've cultivated a daily writing habit that has aided my completion. My new habit has been working for me. From a writing target of 100 words per day, I've increased it to 300 words per day. During the last few months of working on my dissertation, I've increased it to 2 hours per day instead. Some weeks I've worked extra hours to complete the unfinished chapters. Weekends are used to complete bigger tasks that were not possible during the weekdays due to work. These are the sacrifices that I have had to make in order to succeed. It has been difficult but it will all be worth it.
Completing a dissertation is not about setting aside how much you can write or how much time you are willing to sacrifice. It's about setting your ultimate goals and using your determination to reach those goals. Most importantly, you have to make things work for you regardless of what you choose and keep working until you succeed. That's perseverance. Writing a dissertation is a journey that doesn't yield result immediately. No one can complete this journey in days or weeks. All in all, I'm very sure that all problems have solutions. All we need to do is to keep working on it until it's completed. We cannot make excuses and give up. I'm definitely not someone that likes to give up without a battle. We need to try our best to succeed. That's part of the learning process. If you have determination and perseverance to succeed, success is definitely not very far from reach.
Jennifer S. H. Lim is a Computer Science graduate, currently working on her final submission of her dissertation as part of the fulfillment for her Master in Computer Science at University of Malaya, Malaysia. She blogs about her studious life at http://mystudiouslife.wordpress.com and tweet as Studious Jenn @mystudiouslife
This is the second guest blog brought to us by Jennifer Lacey. Enjoy!
Graduate Scheme Test Guide
You will find that most graduate employers use some form of testing to whittle down the number of applicants in their schemes and find the right candidate for their graduate programme. Often these tests are used in the beginning of the process when there are most applicants and they will then lead onto actual interview places or in person test days.
These tests are structured and systematic ways of evaluating how people perform different tasks. No doubt you'll have faced some of the different testing methods while completing an application. More often than not these tests are taken online in the beginning of the application process and can take the form of several different types of tests.
The sole purpose of these tests is to test your reasoning and cognitive capability in an exam environment. They are generally comprised of multiple choice questions and you receive a full set of instructions and a practice question before you embark on the real thing.
These tests generally used in graduate recruitment include;
- Numerical tests
- Verbal tests
- Spatial reasoning
- Subject specific tests - e.g. Programming
Tips for Success
- Ask the recruiter what types of test you will face in the application process - this way you can prepare yourself ahead of time.
- Use free online resources to practice questions. If at all possible find out what company the exams are run by.
- Work quickly through the questions but try and be as accurate as possible.
- Continue past questions you don't understand/can't do and go back to them if you have time at the end (be aware that this may not be possible on online tests).
These tests may not mark your personality with a grade but they do split candidates into personality types and from there graduate recruiters can decide whether you're right for a role on the scheme. This means that there will be no right or wrong answers but just an overview of your personality and working style.
A set number of questions or a series of statements will be given out to the candidate and you will have to select a multiple choice answer. It will probably feel like you are being presented with the same questions over and over again and this to establish a consistency to your answer and increase the accuracy of the tests results.
Tips for Success
- Always practice before hand so you know the general layout of the test and can feel relaxed.
- Be yourself - inconsistency will show on the results so go with your gut instinct.
- If you don't understand a question simply move on.
Understand that if you don't pass you probably wouldn't have been suitable for the role and that there is a better one out there for you.
The First Year in Academia: What to Expect, What to Avoid, and How to Make it Through in One Piece, by Robert Bochnak
This guest blog is a cross-post from Robert Bochnak, a Senior Writer/Communications Manager from Tufts University. You can read more of his blogs at Grad Matters: The Blog for Tufts' GSAS. Additional social media links are posted at the conclusion of the blog. Enjoy!
While teaching in academia isn't a contact sport, it can definitely leave a bruise (typically an internal one). Like many athletic contests, an academic life demands agility, stamina, persistence, and sacrifice-and there are definitely times when an audience of intellectually ravenous students is much scarier than a blitzing linebacker, a ninety-five mile per hour fastball, or preparing to summit New Hampshire's Mount Washington. But the life of a faculty member is survivable-even enviable-and in this post Graduate School of Arts and Sciences alumni share what they did (and what they didn't do) to make it through the first year in one-albeit slightly frazzled- piece.
Manage Your Expectations
First-year faculty members are an ambitious bunch. They arrive on campus revved up, eager to pursue their research agendas and affect young minds in the classroom. But it's important, especially in the first year, to manage your own expectations.
"One of my main challenges during the first year was trying to gauge the amount of material I could cover in a semester," said Angela Speece, who earned a master of fine arts from GSAS in 2011 and is an adjunct professor at the University of Houston. "I highly overestimated what I could get through-setting out to cover much more material than I had time for-and I should have factored in time for lengthy and thorough explanations of specific concepts. I also overlooked how much time I needed to answer student questions and to clarify information at the beginning and end of each class; activities which interfered with my designated teaching time."
Natasha Seaman, an assistant professor at Rhode Island College who earned a master of arts in art history from GSAS in 1997, recommends a particular reflective exercise at the end of each semester-an exercise that can help first-year faculty members both improve their teaching and keep their ambitions in check.
"One of the most useful exercises I did (and still do) to improve my teaching was to write a self-analysis narrative of each class soon after I submitted final grades," she said. "I considered what had gone well and what had not, and tried to think of solutions to problems and ways to expand on what was successful. My first year, this process made me realize I could have avoided killing myself and my students by having fewer, but more meaningful graded assignments. Plus, these narratives are useful for preparing your tenure application."
Do Your Homework
Homework doesn't end-at least for faculty members-with the final test or paper. For those new to academia, it's essential to rely on the experiences of seasoned faculty members, many of whom have written about the craft of teaching or are willing to provide advice over a cup of coffee.
"I worked really long hours during my first year; it felt like graduate school all over again," said University of Virginia Assistant Professor Neeti Nair, who earned a master of arts and Ph.D. in history from GSAS in 2000 and 2005, respectively. "I relied on articles in The Chronicle of Higher Education which provided advice for those on the tenure-track. I also sought out advice from mentors, both inside and outside of my department, when I felt particularly overwhelmed."
Natasha Seaman took a similar approach, reading books aimed at, primarily, first-year teachers.
"Three books really helped me develop my teaching," she said. "These books were: My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student; McKeachie's Teaching Tips: Strategies,Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers; and The Joy of Teaching: A Practical Guide for New College Instructors. I also read, and still do, pedagogy blogs and articles on The Chronicle of Higher Educationwebsite and the "Professor's Guide" from U.S. News and World Report; the guide is intended for students, but the material is useful for the 'other side' as well."
Prepare for (Possible) Double Duty
Some new faculty might find themselves in a precarious position: having a one-year appointment which makes it necessary to both teach courses and search for a full- or part-time position simultaneously. This was a predicament encountered by Nathaniel Goldberg, an associate professor at Washington and Lee University who graduated with a master of arts in philosophy from GSAS in 1999.
"Teaching a heavy course load while simultaneously being on the job market presented some challenges, specifically how to do it all and not attract the ire of my superiors who were not so approving of the time spent on job searching," said Goldberg. "I overcame this challenge by getting to my office before 6:00 am and not going home until 8:00 pm; my weekends were full, too."
Find What Works for You
Every teacher is different. Some bring fiery emotion to their teaching, while others are more, well, subdued. Because of this innate uniqueness, it's important for new faculty members to find things-whether it's technology or a new approach to time management-that supports his or her particular brand of teaching.
For Kara Miller, who graduated with a Ph.D. in English from GSAS in 2008 and is an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, her first-year was made easier by sticking to a schedule (as much as she could), as opposed to trying to "juggle" everything at once.
"I think that consciously dividing up your time can be really helpful," she said. "Try to keep yourself on a schedule if you can; for example, Mondays could be for developing courses and correcting papers, but Tuesdays could be dedicated to research. A schedule like this can free you up in a sense, allowing you to focus on one task at a time, rather than trying to manage it all."
Angela Speece relied on technology during her first year and hasn't looked back.
"There are many ways social networking, blogging, YouTube, and TED talks can enhance your teaching," she said. "I have personally set up an interactive website where students can upload files for assignments and add to classroom discussions."
For Neeti Nair, making time to write is critically important.
"Set aside time for your writing every single day," she said. "It could be early mornings, evenings, or different times each day. Don't rely on the illusory sabattical fellowship-it doesn't exist! As for teaching, know that there will be good and bad days. Don't be too harsh on yourself, but try not to make the same mistakes over and over again. And take the student evaluations seriously, especially the critical ones."
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Today's guest blog is brought to us by Jennifer Lacey.
Guide to Choosing a Graduate Scheme
Leaving university and entering the corporate world can be a daunting task and more than likely you'll be looking for the perfect graduate scheme to help ease yourself into a suitable career. While there are a plethora of graduate schemes to choose from, this choice means you're often no closer to picking the right one and it can seem like you're swamped with schemes to choose from.
What is a graduate scheme?
Employers often have graduate schemes in order to recruit recent university leavers and give them the right training they require to take on roles at high levels in the firm. The experience a graduate gets on these schemes will often vary depending on the company itself and the sector that the work is based but will mostly always be in the form of junior management positions that will prepare the graduate for a future of leadership orientated roles.
You'll find graduate schemes in almost all sectors and normally by large employers. This can be anything from banking, retail, food, sales, IT and transport sectors. Competition is usually high for each of the places on the scheme as there are normally only a few on offer.
It's always a good idea to start looking for a scheme while you're in your final year of university as the application process for graduate schemes is often long and drawn out. Employers want to test every aspect of an applicant and this means putting them through a vast array of tests and interviews.
Finding the Right Scheme
Matching the right scheme to your degree and skill set is going to be a time consuming task, so make sure you focus on what's important to you and draw up a list of idea features you want a scheme to have.
Some ideas of what to think about include;
1.) The Right Role - Find a program that is in the right industry for you and accepts your degree.
2.) Meets your Ambitions - Matches your ambitions of salary and role level (i.e. management or team leader role).
3.) Location - How far do you want to travel? Does the salary take into account travel costs?
4.) Reputation of the Company - Will you leave with something great to add to your CV?
5.) Practicality - Is it a hands on role or a theory based placement?
6.) Added Value - Do you get experience of other roles? Are there opportunities to network?
7.) Quality Control - How have previous candidates found the experience - are they employed there now?
8.) Job Prospects - Will you get a job afterwards?
Always remember to put yourself at the forefront of all your choices. Graduate schemes can often be a very competitive experience but will offer you a great head start in your chosen career path.
Be sure to check back next week for another blog from Jennifer!