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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2016
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

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

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

Diversity Peer
Ana Romero

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

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



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Graduate Writers' Room Expanded to Four Days a Week in Winter Quarter

The Graduate Writers' Room will be open this quarter from January 11 through March 11 in the Student Resource Building Room 1103 on the following days and times:

Mondays and Wednesdays: 1-4 p.m.
Tuesdays and Thursday: 9 a.m.-noon

If you have any questions or suggestions, please email Robert Hamm.


Learn How to Be an Entrepreneur at UCSB's Startup Weekend

Do you have dreams of starting your own company? Do you have a good idea that you know could be successful? Do you want to learn more about what it takes to do a startup?

Graduate students are uniquely trained to think of new ideas. Now get training on what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Startup Weekend at UCSB

January 15-17

Event starts at 6:00 pm
Student Resource Building/Corwin Pavilion

What is Startup Weekend?

A 54-hour event during which groups of developers, business managers, startup enthusiasts, marketing gurus, graphic artists and more come together to take ideas and create them into something more. Friday kicks off with open-mic pitches where attendees bring their best ideas and inspire others to join their team. On Saturday and Sunday, teams focus on customer development, validating their ideas, practicing LEAN Startup Methodologies, and building a minimal viable product. On Sunday evening, teams demo their prototypes and receive valuable feedback from a panel of experts.

This event attracts speakers, coaches, panelists (generally well-respected members of the local startup community or notable names in the tech industry), and various sponsors and company representatives to maximize the value for the aspiring young entrepreneurs. For more information and a full schedule, click here.


Defining Success in Your Career

In my meetings with graduate students, I’ve noticed that a lot of the graduate students generally enjoy having clear expectations for what success looks like. There is a desire to clarify and re-clarify what the expectations are and how to successfully get there. (E.g., can’t you hear your students asking you how long a paper should be, even though you’ve said "it’s quality over quantity"?) Much of what exists for graduate students who are interested in careers in the academy is a clear path towards what it means to be successful and how to get there.

The problem is that clear expectations and a clear path to success is not what exists in the world outside academia.

Author Melanie Nelson wrote a book for graduate students on how to be successful outside of academia. One way she does that is by encouraging students to enhance their "soft skills" but was met with resistance. In her recent Vitae article, Owning Your Career, she says that it is sometimes hard for graduate students to hear they need to work on those aspects (versus just hard/technical skills) because they are also implicitly being told that the road to success is not direct. For those graduate students examining alternative-academic (alt-ac) careers, her main advice is that you need to figure out what success should look like for yourself.

I think her point is raw and important. Success isn’t defined by someone else. It’s up to you to take full ownership of your career.

Click here to read her full article. If you are interested in learning more about careers alongside and outside of academia or how to talk about your Ph.D. skills for non-academic employers, consider attending my workshop next week to clarify your definition of what success looks like for you.

Exploring Careers Alongside and Outside of Academia
January 13
3:30-4:30 p.m.
Student Resource Building, Room 2154


Professional Development Talk on How to Obtain Small Business Innovation Research Grants

Dr. Shravanthi Reddy. Credit: linkedin.comDr. Shravanthi Reddy. Credit: linkedin.comHave you thought about commercializing your research but feel unsure where to find the funding? Dr. Shravanthi Reddy will be giving a talk on how to obtain Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants. Dr. Reddy (COO of ClearSight and Vice President of R&D at Sharklet Technologies) has been working with medical device startups for the last eight years. Her talk will focus on the SBIR programs that are offered by a number of government agencies to help fund startup companies with innovative technologies, with emphasis on the NIH SBIR program. The talk will discuss how to put together a strong proposal, how proposals are reviewed and scored, strategies on how to go after each “phase” of funding, and how to make sure the work you are doing is compatible with your business plan.

What: "Funding Your Startup with Non-Dilutive Funding: Keys to Success for Obtaining Small Business Innovation Research Grants"

When: Thursday, Jan. 7, 2-3 p.m.

Where: Elings 1601

RSVP here.

*Light refreshments available.*


Top 10 Tips for Negotiating Start-Up Packages

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

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

To read the full article, click here.

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


'What Can I Do with a Ph.D. in __?' Why That's the Wrong Question

Don't do what you love. Do what matches your skills, interests, and values.

Source: GotCreditThat is the overarching message in a recent article on Inside Higher Ed by Christine Kelly. A degree, Kelly says, is different from qualifications, and in order to get a job – whether inside or outside of academia – you need to assess what your own qualifications are and how they can lead you to a fulfilling career. There are three main steps in career planning:

  1. Assess your skills. Graduate school teaches you many different skills - not just researching skills - that you can use in a variety of jobs. But only you know what those skills are and you have to do a thorough and realistic self-assessment. As Kelly says, "You have to take the time to really discover what skills you have, your level of proficiency in those skills, which skills you want to use in your career, and where your skill deficiencies lie." Also, don't ignore the issue of whether you actually want to use your skills in your job. You may be really good at doing something but have no desire to do it professionally.
  2. Assess your interests. Look beyond your research interests and figure out what you enjoy doing in life and how that can fit into a career path. Career fulfillment can come in many different shapes and sizes, and your interests and values will change over time. "So rather than trying to find the one job you will have forever," Kelly says, "see your career as a series of interesting positions."
  3. Assess your values. What work environment and culture will make you happiest? "If you want the freedom to choose where you live, you dislike teaching, you want to work in a team structure or you want to earn a high salary, then academe is probably not the right environment for you," Kelly says.

Self-assessment can be a challenging process, and it's important to seek out help. At UCSB, we have a dedicated graduate career consultant to help you out, so don't hesitate to contact Lana Smith-Hale to set up an appointment!

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

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


Tools of the Trade in Career Planning

Credit: MyIDPCareer planning takes a lot of effort. Fortunately there are many tools to help! The Individual Development Plan (IDP) is one such tool for Ph.D. students in the STEM disciplines. On December 8, Bill Lindstaedt, Executive Director at UC San Francisco's Office of Career and Professional Development, gave a virtual workshop which provided an overview of what an IDP is and how it can fit into your career planning at UCSB. IDPs can help graduate students examine their skills, interests, and values and set strategic goals to help them achieve a career that would be a great fit.

The new year is a perfect time to set and re-evaluate your goals related to your own career planning. A great first step is to check out MyIDP from Science Careers and utilize their tools to help you establish clear expectations and goals to keep you on track. Best of all, it's completely free! Here are some of the things you'll find on the website:

  1. Tools to assess your skills, interests, and values
  2. Discussions of 20 scientific career paths and which will fit you best
  3. Tools to help you set strategic goals (with reminders throughout the year!)
  4. Articles and resources to support you with achieving your career goals

Once you have completed your IDP, you can consider sharing it with a partner, advisor, and/or me to help hold you accountable.

And for the Humanities Ph.D. students in the audience… we are in the process of supporting efforts to develop an analogous tool that can provide the same type of career planning support to you as well. Stay tuned for more information!

Lana Smith-HaleIf you'd like to learn more about IDP or other career planning tools available to you through Career Services (such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator inventory and the Strengths Finder assessment), come visit me during office hours or call to set up an appointment.

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


What Does 'Career Options' Mean for You?

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

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

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

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

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


Recap: Info Session on Academic-Adjacent Careers for Ph.D.s

Did you know that the university offers many rewarding career opportunities for Ph.D.s in addition to faculty positions? On Tuesday, Dec. 1, five panelists discussed how they made careers in administrative positions after earning a Ph.D., how to advance one's career, and how to apply your graduate school skills in an administration position.


From left to right: Brandt Burgess, Barbara Walker, Rose Elfman, Julie Standish, Meredith Murr. Credit: Arica Lubin

How did you get into your field?

Common themes: Most of the panelists agreed that their admin position was an unplanned career choice, the result of simply following their interests in different ways after grad school. They didn’t necessarily set out with a master plan, but instead identified their broader career interests and networked in order to find opportunities. The panelists also noted that their job choices were often influenced by factors such as geographical limitations (had to get a job in the area), family life requirements (spouse and/or children who could not move), dissatisfaction with their chosen field, or no job opportunities in their chosen field.

Julie mentored graduates and undergraduates as a Ph.D. student, then found a 50% time at Cal Lutheran teaching in her field. She then applied for and was offered a 50% admin position at UCSB.

Rose worked as a TA in Black Studies and was an editor for their journal. After being on the academic job market for a year, she found her current job at the Center for Black Studies Research listed on Craigslist. The minimum requirements were only for a B.A., but she showed how her graduate school experience made her the ideal candidate for the position. She started part-time and then went to full time after she graduated with her Ph.D.

Barbara came to UCSB as a postdoc in Geography and was very successful in writing her own research grants. The Office of Research recruited her to help other researchers write grants, and the prospect of a job based in Santa Barbara worked well with Barbara's family commitments.

Brandt knew that he didn't want to work in a research lab or in industry, and he went to an event for alternative careers in science and decided he wanted to get involved in science policy. During a postdoc at UCSB, he moved into policy administration by setting up a laboratory, and after a few years of experience outside UCSB, he was hired back here by the Office of Research.

What are the pros and cons of admin positions?

Common Themes: Panelists seemed to agree these jobs offered them a better and more enjoyable work life; however, it was less secure than the one provided by a tenured position.


  • Able to have a better work/life balance than afforded by lab work.
  • Unlike research, the work is done when you go home. You can have fun.
  • There is more flexibility for work schedules.
  • Unlike being a solo researcher, you have more colleagues and collaboration available.


  • Not having tenure.
  • Unsure of how to advance career. There is no defined career track path built into the job.
  • Sometimes wonder if you made the right choice.
  • Miss doing research or having a current project to work on.

How do you advance at an admin job?

The panelists stated that there is a ceiling to how high you can go, depending on the university. The top tier positions, such as assistant or associate chancellor, are reserved for faculty. However, undergraduate schools and non-top tier schools typically offer more flexibility for advancement. The panelists also mentioned that you can make lateral moves, change to other positions at a university, or look into the private sector or non-profits.

What are the skills necessary for an admin job?

The panelists agreed that the Ph.D. was good for many jobs. You have exactly the kind of skills that employers want. You can write, present, and think. You are detail-oriented and serious. In fact, more than half the panelists applied to jobs that did not require Ph.D.s but made a case for why their advanced skill set was an asset. They stressed that you need to spell out the skills you have to potential employers. For example, you can talk about your leadership or your work in a project organization. 

Lana Smith-Hale contributed to this article.


Post-Grad Opportunity: Science & Technology Policy Fellowship

CCST Policy Fellows logo

The California Council on Science and Technology announced the opening of the 2016-17 CCST Science and Technology Policy Fellowship application. This opportunity provides a unique professional development opportunity to scientists and engineers who are interested in improving the interface between science and legislative decision-making in California. Fellows work in Sacramento for one year.

Eligibility: US citizenship or suitable immigration status, with either a Ph.D., or a Master’s degree in engineering plus 3 years work experience

Application Deadline: Feb. 29, 2016

Fellowship Dates: Nov. 1, 2016 – Oct. 31, 2017

Compensation: $45,000 stipend, plus reimbursement allowances of up to $4,000 for relocation costs and $1,000 per month for health insurance

For more information, visit the CCST website