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Graduate Peers Hours

Spring 2014

Academic Peer:
Torrey Trust

Mon: 1 to 4 p.m.
Tues: 1 to 4 p.m.
Wed: noon to 3 p.m. 

Diversity & Outreach Peer:
Hala Sun


Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco


Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre

Tues: 10 to 11 a.m. &
2 to 6 p.m.
Wed: 9 to 11 a.m.
Thurs: 10 to 11 a.m. 
Fri: 9 to 11 a.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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View UCSB Graduate Student Resources in a larger map


Creating Your Job Negotiation Success Story

Handshake sketchCredit: AJ Cann

Dr. Karen Myers, Graduate Division Associate Dean, and Samantha Powers, a Communication Ph.D. student, recently hosted a workshop to walk graduate students through the process of negotiating a job offer. The workshop also featured a panel of experts who shared some sage and practical advice: Jill Dobrowitsky (Human Resources Consultant, HRL), Dr. Dave Seibold (Professor and Vice Chair, Technology Management Program), and Dr. Bill Smith (Professor and Chair, Molecular Cellular Development Biology).

Here is what I learned from the workshop:

Always Negotiate

You may be happy just to receive a job offer. However, Samantha presented an enlightening hypothetical example of two individuals: One individual did not negotiate and started at $100,000 a year, while the other individual negotiated a 10% increase to a starting salary of $110,000 a year. Over 30 years, with a 3% cost of living adjustment, the person who negotiated for a salary increase would earn about $400,000 more than the other individual. If the individual had invested it, he or she could have almost $1 million more just for making a simple request during the job negotiation process.

Plan, Plan, Plan

CashCredit: flickr user 401(k) 2012Develop clear objectives about what you need and want. Identify your target salary and your walk-away point.

Make a list of your strengths and think about how you can use these strengths to justify your requests. Also, think about your weaknesses and how you can respond to these if the employer brings them up. It’s also helpful to know the employer’s weaknesses and think about how you can use these to your advantage.

Research the salary of the position. Faculty salaries are public information and you can find this information online. You can use a salary calculator or salary database to examine the average range in salary for your position. You can also ask contacts within the organization, university, or industry to get a general idea about the salary for the position. Here is a helpful handout from the workshop about finding credible salary information: Where to Find Salary Information (pdf).

Negotiate More Than Just the Salary

 Academic negotiable items may include:

  • Salary
  • Supplemental salary (e.g., summer stipend) 
  • Relocation/moving expenses 
  • Benefits 
  • Research/startup funds 
  • Lab space 
  • Professional development/travel funds 
  • Research assistant support 
  • Spousal hire 
  • For more ideas, see: What to Negotiate - Academic Jobs (pdf)

Industry negotiable items may include: 

  • Signing bonus 
  • Time off (vacation days)
  • Relocation expenses 
  • Training 
  • Additional perks 
  • Start date 
  • Benefits 
  • For more ideas, see: What to Negotiate - Industry Jobs (pdf)

Think about which two to three of these items are your top priority and focus on how you can negotiate for these items. Jill Dobrowitsky also recommended that you should ask at the beginning of your job negotiation what is and is not negotiable. You can still try to negotiate the items that are not negotiable, but you may be able to get significantly more from the negotiable items.


Use silence to your advantage.

Dr. Myers mentioned that during the negotiation, you should aim for listening 70% of the time and talking only 30% of the time. This allows you to actively pick up on queues and understand the employer’s position. You will also be less likely to say something that you later regret.

Be Specific and Direct

If something is a “must-have” then let the employer know. Make sure to share your reasons and justifications for your requests (e.g., “According to estimates I’ve obtained, I need at least $5,000 in moving expenses in order to be able to move here”).

Play Nice

Be willing to give and take. Don’t go into the negotiation with the “my way or the highway” attitude. Figure out how you can work together with the employer to come to agreeable terms. Employers actually expect you to negotiate because it shows your willingness to collaborate and handle conflict. Additionally, the job negotiation can shape the relationship you have with your future employer. This is your opportunity to show that you can be a team player and work with the employer. Even though you have your objectives, the goal of the negotiation process is to get a “win-win” situation for both parties.

For more information regarding the job negotiation process, here is the workshop PowerPoint:


Essential Take-Aways from the 'How to Work a Career Fair' Workshop

Happy Resume ManCredit: Open Clip Art

Below are some of the essential take-aways for those of you who missed the excellent presentation on “How to Work a Career Fair” by Cathleen Dunn, a UCSB alum and Enterprise-Rent-A-Car Talent Acquisition Manager, on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at Career Services.

Own the Process!
Research beforehand, make personal contacts, and follow up on the contacts you make. About 60% to 75% of jobs come about by making a personal contact.

Review the list of employers, tailor your résumé to 5 to 6 specific companies, identify the skills you have and match them with the talent a company needs.

Dress to Impress
Conservative dress is best. If it looks like you could have fun in your outfit, you need to change.

Practice Your Approach
Prepare your 30-second commercial with your name, major, qualifications, career goals, that relate to the needs of the specific companies.

Take Control
Be energetic, make eye contact, and have a firm handshake.

Practical Tips
Turn off your phone, bring a pen, use a checklist of employers to visit, and print more résumé copies than you think you will need (because you will need them).

Helpful Keywords
Study-abroad experience means you have the ability to adapt. Waiting tables or working at Starbucks means you have customer service and sales experience.

Things to Remember
Do not be shy, follow up, initiate and maintain contact with employers you meet, send a thank-you email to the employers you are interested in.

Go to the next “How to Work a Career Fair” workshop to get the full scoop. You will not regret it.

Career Services Logo


What You Missed at Resume+

Credit: Open Clip Art

If you were too busy to go to Career Services on Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 2 to 4 p.m., this is what you may have missed at Resume+.

  • A chance to meet with one of 14 human resource recruiters from companies that will be represented at next week's Winter Career Fair.
  • Ten to 15 minutes of personalized critique of your résumé on such things as:
    • Format
    • Job Description
    • How to make your content stand out

Besides résumé advice, there were also:

  • Useful tips on how to prepare for the Career Fair. (Hint: Cover that tattoo and have a firm handshake).
  • A chance to join the UCSB Alumni Association and hear future talks from people who have been successfully employed.
  • Delicious cookies from the UCSB Alumni Association representative. (The chocolate chip was especially yummy).

If you could not attend Resume+, you can always drop in at Career Services, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.



Versatile PhD Online Panel Discussion: Careers in Finance for Humanities and Social Science PhDs 

Versatile phd logoAs a UCSB graduate student, you have free access to the wealth of information and resources on Versatile PhD. Versatile PhD also hosts online panel discussions to connect you with experts in a specific field so you can get your career-related questions answered.

On Monday, Jan. 20, Versatile PhD will be hosting a weeklong online panel discussion for students interested in pursuing careers in the field of Finance (e.g., investment strategy, proposal writing, client relations). Here are the details:

Careers in Finance Online Panel Discussion

Audience: Humanities and Social Science Ph.D. students.

When: Monday, Jan. 20, to Friday, Jan. 24.

What: A panel of experts in the field of Finance will be available to answer your questions and moderate the discussion forum posts.

More Information:

To register for a Versatile PhD account, visit:


Networking at Conferences: Tips from UCSB's Networking Ninja

How to Work a Room flier

With conference season in full swing, it’s important to figure out how you can make the most of the networking opportunities at the conferences you will be attending. Conferences often provide multiple networking opportunities, ranging from informal meet-and-greets to formal cocktail mixers.

Networking often seems more like work than play, so, I met with Networking Ninja Brittany Manzer, a counselor at Career Services, to learn the ins-and-outs of networking at conferences. Here are some tips to help you build your network at your next conference:

General Networking Tips

  • Be comfortable with silence.
  • Start small (e.g., introduce yourself to one or two individuals).
  • Know that everyone else is in the same boat (networking is difficult for everyone).
  • Be authentic, natural, and confident when speaking about yourself and your research.
  • Say names multiple times to commit them to memory.

Before the Conference

  • Research who will be attending and presenting.
  • Make a networking “wish list” of the people who you would like to speak with. Try to connect with these individuals via email or social media before the conference and ask them to meet for coffee/tea or a meal during the conference.
  • Use social media (e.g., LinkedIn Group or Facebook Page) to start building connections with conference attendees/presenters.
  • Build your digital reputation (e.g., create an ePortfolio or well-designed LinkedIn profile page) so you can show it off while networking.

At the Conference

  • Attend poster sessions and strike up a conversation with the presenters.
  • Workshop, panel, and paper presenters are often swarmed after their presentations. Get the presenters’ contact information and follow up with them later for more in-depth conversations.
  • Collect business cards and write one memorable thing about each individual on the back of the person’s business card (this will help you during the follow-up stage).
  • Ask the people you talk with to connect via LinkedIn.
  • Attend as many networking events as you can.

After the Conference

  • Follow up with the individuals you met at the conference. Use your notes on the back of the business cards when you connect (e.g., “Hi James, I met you at the XYZ Conference last week. How is your screenwriting project coming along. ... I have a question about ...”)
  • Set a networking reminder in your calendar to follow up with individuals and nurture relationships.
  • Keep in touch with the individuals in your network. For example, when you find an article that may be of interest to someone in your network, send a brief email to the individual with a link to the article. Or, if you meet someone who may benefit from connecting with another person in your network, be a connector and introduce the two individuals.

Additional Handouts and Resources



If You Are ‘Responsible,’ ‘Strategic,’ and ‘Creative,’ Avoid These Top 10 Overused Buzzwords, LinkedIn Says

In the professional world, originality is considered a highly valued trait. So says LinkedIn, which for the fourth year in a row has released its list of top 10 overused buzzwords on its members’ profiles in 2013.

Topping the list this year is the word “responsible,” overtaking “creative,” which had led for the previous two years. “Responsible” was used more than twice as often as the No. 2 buzzword: “strategic.”

The professional networking site based its findings on a study of all of its English-language profiles. Since LinkedIn last conducted such a study, its global membership has soared from 187 million to more than 259 million, the site said.

Four buzzwords from 2012 made the list again this year: “creative,” “responsible,” “effective,” and “analytical.” But four other words on the 2012 list were used in profiles less often this year, so they dropped off: “experimental,” “motivated,” “multinational,” and “specialized.”

Among the English-language profiles studied, there were some interesting findings in other countries. The Netherlands was the only country with “sustainable” in its top 10; and Great Britain was the only one to have the word “enthusiastic.” Down under, Australia and New Zealand were the only countries to feature “passionate” on their top 10 overused buzzword lists.

On its blog, LinkedIn emphasized that members’ profiles – and by extension their CVs and resumes – are their professional  brands. “So make it count,” the site says, by demonstrating your skills and experience through examples of your talent rather than by using buzzwords.

“If you sound like everyone else, you won’t stand out from other professionals vying for opportunities,” Nicole Williams, LinkedIn’s career expert, said in a news release. “Differentiate yourself by uniquely describing what you have accomplished in your career and back it up with concrete examples of your work by adding photos, videos, and presentations to your profile that demonstrate your best work. Providing concrete examples to demonstrate how you are responsible or strategic is always better than just simply using the words.”

For more information, view the LinkedIn press release, which includes helpful tips on how to stand out from the crowd, and LinkedIn’s infographic below. Also, see the GradPost’s LinkedIn buzzwords article from 2011.

LinkedIn’s 2013 Most Overused Buzzwords on Member Profiles

1. Responsible

2. Strategic

3. Creative

4. Effective

5. Patient

6. Expert

7. Organizational

8. Driven

9. Innovative

10. Analytical


Networking: Conversation Starters

Two people talkingCredit: Microsoft OfficeHaving a large network can help you in many ways, so it is essential to build your network at every event that you attend.

However, networking can seem intimidating, especially for introverts. Career Realism writer Ariella Coombs put together a list of 18 conversation starters to help you when you are at a loss for words or facing an awkward moment of silence.

Coombs recommends the following strategies for engaging in small talk with people at events:

  • Ask questions related to food and sports.
  • Learn more about the person.
  • Find common ground.
  • Just say "Hello" and introduce yourself.
  • Compliment the person. 

Read the full article to learn more about these strategies.


Digital Reputation: Why You Need a Website

Digital Reputation website screenshotIn the recent Inside Higher Ed article, "You Need a Website," authors Eszter Hargittai and Brayden King emphasize the importance of having a strong, professional online presence. Considering how easy it is to use the Internet to find information about people, it is hardly a stretch to think that search committees might do the same to learn more about you as an applicant. Hargittai and King ask, "Were someone to do a search on your name online, what would they find? Would they find a helpful page with material that would convey why you are a desirable candidate?"

It is essential to start building your digital reputation early in your graduate school career and to ensure that you have a professional online presence when you go on the job market.

Don't know where to start? Luckily, you are attending on of the few schools in the country that offers workshops on Building a Digital Reputation (see USA Today article). You can start learning how to build your digital reputation by visiting the Digital Reputation Website. You can also attend the Building a Digital Reputation Workshop in Winter or Spring.

If you have specific questions about developing your professional online presence, you can also contact me:


UCSB Professors Offer Advice on Navigating Contradictions of Interdisciplinarity

Although universities laud the benefits and desirability of interdisciplinarity, graduate students in nontraditional or multi-disciplinary fields face challenges and very little structural support for landing funding and jobs. These dynamics are difficult, but possible to overcome. In this GradPost article, we ask two UCSB professors to share tips and suggestions for making the most out of your interdisciplinary training.

Inside Higher Ed recently released an article titled "Interdisciplinary Penalty," focusing on a study out of Cornell University explaining that following graduation in 2010, those who completed interdisciplinary dissertations earned $1,700 less, on average, than those who completed dissertations in a single field.

Among the original study’s insights is the likelihood of women and racial minorities to enter interdisciplinary fields and the ways departments'  emphasis on interdisciplinarity is used for “recognition while not necessarily preparing graduate students for the associated risks.” Risks, they argue, include postponing employment while completing graduate study and near-term income risk following graduate study. Read the full study on Cornell’s website

In a recent UCSB Ford Fellowships workshop student attendees asked a very important question: “If my research is interdisciplinary, which “discipline” category should I select when submitting my fellowship application?” Another question followed: “Who reads the interdisciplinary proposals and how do they decide who to award?” These are common themes among interdisciplinary graduate students, particularly in the social sciences and humanities, and are not just limited to funding. Many funding applications that are open to various fields require that applicants first select their discipline – a choice that is becoming more confusing as interdisciplinary studies increase in number.

During a recent workshop, UCSB Preparing for the Job Market, the same type of question arose: “I am in an interdisciplinary department but I wish to apply to jobs in History. How can I go about doing that?”  The Professor Is In, Karen Kelsky, responded that graduate students should be working throughout their program years to tailor their vitas to those disciplines by attending and presenting at the discipline’s conferences and by publishing in the discipline’s journals. By this measure, a student whose work resides in the realms of political science, environmental science, and literature could find herself strained to cater to all of these disciplines and at the same time make herself marketable to each. Attending three major conferences rather than one increases the cost of travel, lodging, and registration that a graduate student must cover, especially considering that interdisciplinary fields are already underfunded.

The article on Inside Higher Ed also reported that senior faculty and graduate students are more likely to engage in interdisciplinary research than faculty pursuing tenure. 

What this means is that senior faculty must use their seniority and leverage to create structural avenues for emergent interdisciplinary scholars, both at the graduate and early-career stages. Interdisciplinary departments can generate a series of cluster-hires around an issue or topic rather than make a call for a specific discipline, as the Inside Higher Ed article suggests. Funding agencies can also make their processes friendlier to interdisciplinary applicants by explaining how applications are evaluated and what criteria they use to determine whether a project is truly interdisciplinary or just has interdisciplinary aspects but should be evaluated in a traditional field category.

We asked two UCSB faculty who show tremendous command of their interdisciplinarity to shed some insight on what makes interdisciplinary scholarship work. Omar Saleh is an associate professor in the Materials Department and Biomolecular Science and Engineering (BMSE)Anthony Barbieri-Low is an associate professor in the History Department who also specializes in Art History.

Words of Wisdom from Professor Saleh

Omar SalehWhat advice do you have for students applying for funding designated for either of their fields of study but not for a combination?

“In my experience, the best strategy here is to develop collaborations. You definitely can have grant applications rejected because the agency/reviewer thinks your CV indicates you are not really an expert in a given field. So, find a colleague (at your institution or elsewhere) whose CV is unimpeachable on this count, has some interest in the issue at hand, and that you think you can work with.”

Professor Saleh also suggests adding such a colleague to a project proposal as an unpaid consultant can help make your proposal more viable. He also adds, “For me, since my CV reflects an emphasis on physics, this means that when I apply to the NIH, I try to find a [co-Primary Investigator] who is a biologist.”

Do you think it is difficult for interdisciplinary scholars to become strong candidates for a tenure-track position in fields more traditional than our research approaches?

“In my experience, this is not a huge issue. Most of the exciting new work is happening at the borders of traditional fields; further, traditional department affiliations are eroding as a useful means to identify the type of work a person does. The hiring processes I have been involved in have always been highly open to interdisciplinary candidates.”

How would you suggest graduate students proceed with interdisciplinary projects?

“You basically need to convince [advisors] that the project is useful/potentially informative. The only person that you really have to convince is your advisor – once you have an independent position, you direct the research, and you can hopefully convince your colleagues/dean based on your publication output (and not need to convince them of the intrinsic merits of the work). But, if you try to do something that your advisor is not in agreement with, that can be a big issue.”

Words of Wisdom from Professor Barbieri-Low

Anthony Barbieri-LowAs a grad student, Professor Barbieri-Low knew that he could benefit from interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary training, but he also knew that jobs usually opened up in defined departments and fields. He received his M.A. degree from Harvard University in an interdisciplinary program (Regional Studies), but received his Ph.D. from Princeton in a more defined discipline, Chinese Art and Archaeology (i.e., Art History).

Dr. Barbieri-Low explains, “What made my career track more difficult, however, is that I applied for jobs to both Art History and History departments, in order to maximize my chances of getting a position. I knew that what I wanted to do was combine material and visual culture studies (art history) with the study of texts (history), but the problem was convincing History departments to hire someone with an Art History Ph.D. For each type of job I tailored my CV to fit field expectations, and I changed my interview stance and job talks for each type of institution. I met with much resistance from older committee members, who didn’t like people stepping outside traditional disciplinary boundaries, but most of the younger colleagues understood it perfectly well. Eventually, I received a job offer from one of each type of department, but chose a History department, because the size of the faculty allowed me to interact with people from different regional areas and time periods. Currently, I am on a three-year fellowship from the Mellon Foundation to learn another entirely new field, Egyptology, so once again I run the risk of being seen as an interloper, but at this point I am used to it.”

How can graduate students tailor their CVs and application packets for each discipline?  How did you achieve this?

“I went to conferences in history and art history, and published in journals in both fields, and I still do. Eventually my first book won the top book prize in both History and Art History, which hadn’t been done before that I know of.  I try to keep up memberships in both professional organizations, but it is very demanding on time to keep a high profile in two different disciplines.”  

Would you have any suggestions for students about how to productively manage resistance to interdisciplinarity?

“Really the best insurance against attacks from people in either discipline is to be as excellent a scholar as possible in both fields (or several fields). Master the literature, master the languages, know the key issues. For some, the lack of a formal degree in their discipline will always disqualify you, but excellence will often win out.”

Interdisciplinary scholarship is important and rewarding. If interdisciplinary research has the potential to yield innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems, institutions should develop structural solutions graduate students and new faculty can benefit from such as interdisciplinary grant and faculty hire allocations. 

Graduate students: Do you consider yourselves interdisciplinary scholars? What challenges and opportunities have you encountered? Email the Graduate Peers and let us know. 



Writing Cover Letters for the Academic Job Search

Credit: Pixel FantasySearch committees often spend the most time looking at your cover letter compared to the rest of your application materials. Therefore, it is critical that you write a well-crafted cover letter to pique the search committee members' interests.

There are many articles that focus on how to write an effective cover letter for the academic job market. Here are two articles that I found helpful:

Since there is significant overlap between both authors' recommendations, it is safe to assume that you should include, at minimum, the following paragraphs in your cover letter:

  • Introduction
  • Dissertation
  • Future Research
  • Teaching
  • Conclusion

Use each paragraph to demonstrate how you are a good fit for the position, don't just make general statements (e.g., "I am a great team leader") or repeat information that can be found on your CV. Browse each of the articles to find out what specific information you should include in each paragraph.

The authors also provide additional suggestions to help you craft your cover letter:

  • The cover letter should be less than 2 pages but longer than 1.5 pages.
  • Don't change the font (11-12 points) or margins.
  • Present yourself as a colleague (not as a desperate graduate student).
  • Tailor each cover letter to the job description.
  • Use letterhead. 

It is important to follow the traditional genre conventions for writing an academic job cover letter. However, you also want to find a way to stand out from the other applicants. It is up to you to determine how to find a balance between these two demands.

Good luck!