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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Spring 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer, Shawn Warner-Garcia
Monday: 10 a.m. to noon
Wednesday: 10 a.m. to noon
Friday: 10 a.m. to noon

Funding Peer, Kyle Crocco
Tuesday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thursday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Writing Peer, Ryan Dippre
Monday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Tuesday: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Communications Peer, Melissa Rapp
Monday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Thursday: 2 to 4 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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Mastering the Elevator Speech

Credit: Marco WesselThe term “elevator speech,” one of the biggest buzzwords in career development these days, supposedly originated in a book by an English quality management expert in the early 1980’s called “The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way.” It refers to a pre-prepared, comprehensive set of ideas presented to an influential person in the time span of a standard elevator ride, that ideally produces some sort of positive action.

Though often used in the context of promoting business ideas (think reality TV show “Shark Tank”), with the high level of competitiveness in the job market in recent years and the subsequent emphasis on the power of networking, the term has found its way into the vocabulary of career development. In this case, individuals are not pitching a product or idea, but themselves. That is, within a short period of time, summarizing who they are and what they are looking for, as well as what they have to offer and why they are a good fit for the person they are in the “elevator” with.

It can be a tall order, including knowing what to say, when to say it, and for how long. But given the proven effectiveness of networking, with estimates that over 80% of jobs are gotten either directly or indirectly through connections, the “elevator speech” has become a key element of the process, and thus important to the repertoire of graduate students, whether exploring, pursuing, or enhancing their academic or non-academic careers.

Here is some guidance for your elevator speech:

What to say. There is no exact way to create an elevator pitch, and it certainly should vary depending on the context in which you employ it, but there are important main elements. The three key aspects in the employment search process are:

  1. Area of interest
  2. Ability to succeed in this area (education, experience, skills, strengths)
  3. “Fit” for targeted employers

Your speech, then, should ideally touch on these three areas in a way that is personally unique and differentiating. For example:

I’m completing the last year of my Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology at UCSB. In addition to my research on increasing cultural diversity in after-school programs, I’ve spent the past two years working as a Program Evaluator for the A.S. Education Group in Santa Barbara, analyzing content, programming and accessibility of after-school programs. And during my masters program I was a Project Coordinator for Project Help in Los Angeles, overseeing the development of school-based programming for urban adolescents. I came to UCSB thinking that I wanted to pursue a career in academia, but after getting this great experience and discovering a kind of unique ability to integrate complex theories with front-line needs, I have decided that my interests and skill-set are a much better fit for leading programs. I’m excited to get to talk to you, as I’ve followed your program the past few years and feel that the work you do with adolescent education and development is very much in line with my strengths and career aspirations.

Credit: Hirotomo TLength. Thirty to 60 seconds, depending on circumstance.

Where to use. The elevator speech is utilized at a variety of networking, job search, and professional development events and opportunities, both in person and online. For instance:

  • Formal networking functions and events
  • Other professional development-oriented functions and events
  • Career fairs and employer information sessions
  • Informational interviews
  • “Professional” social media and other online correspondence
  • Casual encounters (sometimes even on elevators)
  • In the interview, answering the questions “tell me about yourself” and “why are you interested in this position?  (Note: answers in this context will normally be longer than 30-60 seconds).

When to employ. There is no simple strategy in regards to the appropriate time to whip out your elevator speech. The phrase “you’ll know it when you see it” comes to mind as sound advice. In more formal job search- and networking-oriented settings, it is generally expected that attendees will be assertive in selling themselves and are indeed often prompted to do so with a statement like, “Tell me about yourself” or the question, “What are you looking for?”

In other circumstances, the prompts are not so clear. The best guidance in these situations includes:

  • First ask questions and genuinely listen to the person you are talking to, ideally focusing on professional or career related topics.
  • Look for an appropriate time to share.
  • Don’t just jump into your elevator speech if not prompted.
  • It may be more effective to integrate the elements of your speech into a longer conversation.

Other Tips.

  • Prepare! Write, edit, practice, and get feedback.
  • Convey your uniqueness – what differentiates you, causes you to stand out.
  • Share what you’re passionate about and looking forward to doing.
  • Make it sound human and real, and don’t be afraid to smile.
  • Prepare a few variations for different circumstances.
  • Don’t brag! There’s a difference between emphasizing your accomplishments and attributes and bragging about them.

For more information about networking strategies, check out the slides from John Coate's March 4 networking workshop. UCSB Career Services offers an effective array of resources, programming, coaching, and other services. For more details, visit the Career Services website.

John Coate is the Assistant Director and Coordinator of Graduate Student Services for UCSB's Career Services. He periodically writes post on career and professional development issues for The GradPost.


Communication Students Present Research in Pre-Grad Slam Departmental Event

Aubrie Adams presents her talk, "Adaptation in T3xt Communication," on Friday. Credit: Melissa Rapp

UCSB's Department of Communication held a Grad Slam preparation event Friday, February 27, in the SSMS building. Associate Dean Karen Myers introduced the program, sharing updates for this year's Grad Slam competition.

Abel Gustafson shares his research findings. Credit: Melissa RappNew developments for Grad Slam 2015 include a People's Choice Award as well as bigger cash prizes. Second- and third-place winners will each receive $2,500 and the Grand Prize winner will earn an impressive $5,000.

Myers also explained that although the Grad Slam was founded at UCSB, the entire UC system now participates. Winners of UCSB's event will go on to a UC-wide competition with potential judges including Governor Jerry Brown, UC President Janet Napolitano, and entertainment celebrities. The UC-wide event will include additional cash prizes for winners.

The Communication Department presenters were judged on clarity, organization, delivery, visuals, appropriateness, intellectual signifiance, and engagement. The event had a lively vibe, with much laughter and applause for each presentation. Research topics presented including the specific adaptations needed for effective Internet communication, political communication networks, and linguistic stereotypes in television.

All presenters were introduced by Communication Professor Robin Nabi, who organized the event. Some of the presenters and their topic titles were:

Aubrie Adams: "Adaptation in T3xt Communication"

Samantha Coveleski: "Get well soon! ... Or not: Reconfiguring fundamental notions of social support in chronic pain"

Abel Gustafson: "Predicting Election Outcomes Using Wikipedia"

Richard Huskey: "Persuasion neuroscience: How understanding the brain can help us improve persuasive messages"

Becky Robinson: "Motivated Offense: Group membership and the desire for status"

Benjamin King Smith: "Cross-Cutting Concerns: The Varying Effects of Partisan Cues in the Context of Social Networks"

Professor Robin Nabi, right, introduces Samantha Coveleski and her three-minute Grad Slam-style talk. Credit: Melissa Rapp

 Sign up to participate in UCSB's 2015 Grad Slam here!


New Course: Science Communication for STEM Professionals

A new course will be offered during Spring quarter by Doug Bradley, an instructor in UCSB's Writing Program. The course, 'Science Communication for STEM Professionals,' is open to all students of graduate student standing.

The course will focus on "enhancing the delivery, understanding, retention, and engagement of scientific information for various target audiences, particularly the general public." Students in the course will learn to craft accurate, realistic, and compelling scientific stories for a variety of audiences and media. 

What: ChE 394: Science Communication for STEM Professionals

When: Spring 2015, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

Where: Engineering 2, Room 3301

Enrollment is limited to 24 students, so act now to sign up.  See the course announcement for more enrollment information.


New Technology Management Program Courses Open to All Grads

Want to innovate or lead change? Then check out these Spring 2015 Courses offered by the Technology Management Program (TMP)

These courses are open to all graduate students. However, the Ph.D. seminar courses are suggested only for Communication, Psychology, Bren, or Counseling, Clinical and Psychology Students.

TMP 291OI - Organizing for Innovation  (3 units)

Paul Leonardi

Tues/Thurs 3:30-4:45 p.m.

This course is designed to provide managers with a mix of approaches and techniques to use existing information in their organizations to produce innovative products, services, and ideas. The basic premise of the course is that at the root of all innovation is effective management of innovation. Each week is organized around an important question whose answer is one key component of successful innovation management. The answer to each week’s question will provide practical tips for managers who find themselves tasked by their superiors to “be more innovative” with increasingly fewer resources. Put another way, this is not a course on strategy; it is a course designed to help you see old problems in new ways and give you skills you can use tomorrow in your organization.

TMP 291LC Leading Change (3 units)

Gary Hansen

Wed., 4-6:50 p.m.

This course is designed to increase the students’ conceptual and theoretical understanding of leadership and to apply that knowledge to demonstrate increased personal leadership daily.  This course is highly experiential.  It is intended to help students discover insights about themselves as leaders, fostering the development of self-awareness regarding strengths and opportunities for personal growth.  The course provides the context for enhancing competences that will enable the student to better become an effective leader in today’s highly dynamic and uncertain technology driven organizations.   We will use current books, articles, case studies and computer and behavioral simulations to increase our understanding as well as practice.

TMP 291SG Environmental Sustainability as a Business Strategy (3 units)

Sheetal Gavankar

Tues/Thurs 10-11:15 a.m.

This course presents an opportunity to understand the environmental sustainability issues in the context of strategic technology management. Through this course, students will learn to recognize, design and implement environmental sustainability strategies to reduce costs and risks, and to capture new business opportunities. Besides the essential basics, this class covers tools and practices catering to the sustainability aspects of technology management. Current national and international issues, key protocols, regulations and market trends will be addressed in the same context.

Ph.D. Seminar Courses

The Ph.D. Seminar Courses are suggested for Communication, Psychology, Bren, or Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology Students.

TMP 291TT Doctoral Research Seminar on Groups & Teams (3 units)

Kyle Lewis

Wed., 9-11 a.m.

In this doctoral research seminar students explore the social, cognitive, and structural dynamics of groups and teams. Both foundational and emerging research will be reviewed, including topics such as team processes (coordination, communication, reflexivity), interpersonal processes (conflict, motivation, affect, identification), and emergent processes (socially-shared cognition, transactive memory, collective intelligence).

TMP 291TN Teams, Networks, and Innovation (3 units)

Paul Leonardi

Wed., 1-3:50 p.m.

This Ph.D. seminar focuses on the antecedents to idea generation within formal and informal organization settings. The readings explore structural configurations, team designs, and work processes that put individuals with different types of information and ideas in contact with one another. The logic of the course is as follows: We begin by considering innovation as the recombination of information into new ideas. We then examine cognitive and structural perspectives on idea generation and creativity. Next, we interrogate the structural perspective to uncover diverse network configurations useful for team design. Finally, we examine what communication and interaction processes are effective for generating ideas once teams are assembled.

The course is not intended for master’s students. First year Ph.D. students without any background in the behavioral sciences may want to wait until their second year before taking this course.


‘Stage Training for Academic Presenters’: Workshop Aims to Boost Confidence, Form Ties With Audience 

They walked like elephants, buzzed like bumblebees, swam like a school of fish, and hugged like long-lost friends. All while barefoot. These were UC Santa Barbara graduate students and postdocs, learning the fundamentals of stage presence in Drama Instructor Jeff Mills’ four-hour “Stage Training for Academic Presenters” workshop on Friday, February 20.  

The aim of the inaugural workshop, hosted by the UCSB Graduate Division, was to help graduate students and postdocs improve their communication skills, build confidence, and form connections with an audience. These skills could then be used to successfully convey the significance of their scholarly work to a broad audience, whether that’s at the upcoming Grad Slam competition in April (registration is now underway), in a research talk at an academic conference, or at some other public venue.

Workshop participants do some breathing and relaxation exercises. Credit: Patricia MarroquinThe graduate students and postdocs came from across the disciplinary map. Materials, Education, Bren School, Physics, Anthropology, Spanish and Portuguese, and Electrical and Computer Engineering were just some of the disciplines represented.

Mills started out by asking all of the participants to remove their shoes and go barefoot, the better to “get comfortable and creative with our bodies,” he said.

The workshop was dominated by physical activities, vocal exercises, and creative improvisation. There was crawling, shouting, jumping, and “birdbath” breathing. The students recited words and phrases (repeating “Bodega, Topeka, Bodega, Topeka”); beat their chests while humming; and massaged their jaws and temples.

Participants line up in preparation for a follow-the-leader exercise. Credit: Patricia MarroquinIn one exercise, participants in a single-file line mimicked the movements of the “leader” in front of them. New leaders emerged with their own movements, to be followed by the others. Some of the leaders were simple and clear in their movements. Mills said it is much easier for other participants and an audience to follow if movements are simple and repetitive.

In the final section of the workshop, the students and postdocs one by one recited the Prologue in Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” They were asked to select words to emphasize.

Mills said all of the exercises, which are used in stage training for actors, accomplished multiple goals. “What we were working on was finding physical presence and different ways that we can be present in the space,” he said, as well as “make people listen to us without having to try too hard or be too intense about it.”

The workshop offered techniques for emphasizing words, he said, by using pitch, intensity, and volume; as well as getting “control of the breath and warming up the voice so it can carry across a room.”

Mills noticed a marked difference in the graduate students and postdocs by the conclusion of workshop. “At the beginning they were hiding, and by the end they were all good buddies and friends, and they were way less inhibited,” he said. “I heard a clarity in their voices that I hadn’t heard at the beginning. Even with the people whose primary language wasn’t English, I was hearing words in a much clearer way. Certainly their communication was much clearer.”

Grad students and postdocs mimic the leader in fish-swimming movements. Credit: Patricia Marroquin

Lisa McAllister assumes the leadership role in a workshop exercise. Credit: Patricia MarroquinWe asked a few of the participants why they took the workshop and how it helped them. Here’s what they told us:

Alexandre Streicher, a first-year Physics Ph.D. student, said: “I took this workshop because I believe communication skills to be vital to the dissemination of one's ideas and theories, especially in my field of theoretical physics,” he said. “I believe that I gained a new perspective on presentations. In addition, I was made aware of the many different techniques to emphasize points in speech.”

Lisa McAllister, a Ph.D. student in Anthropology (with an emphasis in Integrative Anthropological Sciences), who was featured in the GradPost in 2013, is in her final year and writing up her dissertation. She competed in the Grad Slam last year and hopes to compete again this year. One of the critiques she received last year was “my so-to-speak stage presence,” and Lisa wanted to do better, both in the Grad Slam and in other venues.

“I am presenting at a conference in May that is extremely professional and prestigious,” she said. “Despite a lot of teaching experience and having presented at many other conferences, I am very nervous about giving this talk. I signed up for the workshop to help combat my nerves and improve my public speaking skills. I also know I appear nervous when talking, as I move around a lot. I hoped the workshop would help give me more of a confident and grounded presence.” She is happy she participated. “I gained a better sense and awareness of my body on stage, and some neat vocal tricks for focusing attention on me and speaking loudly and clearly in a large space. Hopefully it will help me give a clear and confident presentation in May.”

Workshop leader Jeff Mills, left, instructs the participants on their Shakespeare reading exercise. Credit: Patricia MarroquinKayla McLaughlin, who is pursuing both a Ph.D. in Iberian Linguistics, with an emphasis in Applied Linguistics, and a Certificate in College and University Teaching (CCUT), said: “One of my personal goals for this year is to present at a conference, which I've never done before. I wanted to take this workshop to boost my confidence in myself and learn some skills that might make the idea of presenting in front of a bunch of academics a bit less intimidating.”

Kayla, who is about to start a new research project and hopes to compete in the Grad Slam in 2016, added: “I feel like the workshop really helped me practice the idea of ‘just going with it’ and not letting my nervousness get the best of me. A lot of the activities we did definitely pushed me outside of my normal comfort zone, which was a bit scary, but I left the workshop that day feeling empowered and thinking, ‘Well, if I can do that, then presenting at a conference should be a breeze!’”  

After the workshop, leader Jeff Mills, center, and participants strike a dramatic – and confident – pose. Credit: Patricia Marroquin


Information from Workshop on Non-Academic Interviewing

If you've been in graduate school for a while, it’s possible you haven’t had to do an interview in a long time. And if you’re considering a non-academic career, it’s important to know the features and quirks of an industry interview.

On Wednesday, February 4, John Coate of UCSB’s Career Services led a workshop about the art of interviewing for non-academic positions. The workshop, which is part of the ongoing Graduate Student Career Series, covered a wide range of tips for acing industry interviews including how to conduct research on a company, how to prepare for different interview settings, and how to field interview questions on a range of topics.

You can learn more about these topics by viewing the slides from the workshop here.


Versatile Ph.D. Online Panel Discussion Feb. 23-27: Careers in Informal Science Education

Versatile Ph.D. will host a free web-based asynchronous panel discussion on Careers in Informal Science Education (ISE), from February 23-27. All panelists are Ph.D.s or ABDs from STEM fields who have gone into ISE in various different settings, including:

  • Biochemist who is now Director of Science and Integrated Strategies at a major science and industry museum
  • Neurologist who is now Public Outreach Manager at a scientific association
  • Electrical engineer who after a long ISE career in museums and higher ed is now at the Department of Education
  • Oceanographer who is Citizen Science Coordinator at a major national museum
  • Kinesiologist who after a significant research career did a major pivot and now does Science Outreach for the NIH

You can interact with the panelists throughout the week on the site, or follow the discussion via email. All questions welcome, from the most general to the very specific. For more information on this discussion, click here.


FUSE Seeks Science and Engineering Graduate Student Volunteers for Science Education Program

Are you are a science or engineering graduate student who is fluent in either English or Spanish? Are you interested in a fun, rewarding, and easy way to help junior high students gain familiarity with science and understand its importance in education?

If yes, then The Family Ultimate Science Exploration (FUSE) would like to invite you to volunteer for their winter and spring evening programs which kick off on February 24. At these events, you will teach the students and their families about the science of making polymers, audio speakers, and chemical reactions. All the activities are hands-on and allow for a rich dialogue between families and UCSB scientists and engineers.

Volunteer training will be held on Tuesday, February 17, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in Elings Hall 1601. Pizza will be provided, so be sure to RSVP. If you cannot make it to the training but are still interested in participating as a volunteer, please e-mail Wendy Ibsen to arrange for an alternate training session.


What: FUSE Volunteer Training
When: Tuesday, February 17, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
Where: Elings Hall 1601
More info: Visit the FUSE website or click here to RSVP for the training


CCST Science and Technology Policy Postdoctoral Fellowship Recap


If you didn't have time to attend the information session by Susan Hackwood, Executive Director of CCST, here is a short recap of what you missed.

The CCST Program

If you have earned a STEM Ph.D. or will earn one by Sept. 1 and also have an interest in public policy, then the CCST Fellowship program might be for you.

The program is designed to enable Fellows to work hands-on with California state policymakers in addressing complex scientific issues as well as to assume all the other legislative responsibilities of full-time legislative staffers.

Each year, ten Fellows are chosen and placed in Legislative and Senate offices.

Opportunities. As a fellow, you will have the opportunity to:

  • Gain professional development
  • Learn by doing
  • Put your skills to work
  • Make a difference in society
  • Improve translation of science to policy
  • Become a trusted member of a legislative staff

Overall, you will be the go-to science person in a legislative office who will work in a fast paced environment, doing research, giving briefings, and influencing legislation.

Qualities Desired. The program is looking for STEM Ph.D. people who are...

  • Excellent communicators (i.e., your written and oral skills are very important)
  • Effective in fast paced environments
  • Emotionally intelligent
  • Open minded and willing to learn (i.e., have to work across the aisle and parties)
  • Problem solvers
  • Great team members (i.e., working with bright people from different fields)
  • Flexible and adaptable (i.e., prepared when bad things happen, a bill being completely gutted)

Bootcamp Training. As a new fellows, you will get three weeks of training in the following areas:

  • Legislature 101
  • California and its Capitol
  • Committee Staffs and Analyses
  • How a bill becomes a law
  • Preparing for placement
  • When science meets policy
  • The eve of a hearing
  • Committee process in-depth
  • California’s budget battles
  • Mock hearing
  • Interviews and career skills
  • Executive and Third House (i.e., lobbyists)

CCST Science and Technology Policy Fellowship

Deadline: Saturday, Feb. 25.

Eligibility: U.S. citizen with a Ph.D. or equivalent in a STEM field (see list), earned before Sept. 1, 2015.

Stipend: $45,000 for the one-year appointment with up to $4,000 for relocation costs.

More Info: Read the Fellowship Description.


The Trials and Tribulations of the Campus Visit

If you're on the job market this season, then the time is getting ripe (or already has gotten ripe) to start fielding invitations for campus visits. The advice for campus visits currently available online suggests that the experience of a campus visit is something akin to sprinting a marathon: an exhilarating, but exhausting event. 

While there is a great deal of practical advice for campus visitees out there, a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed is particularly effective in tackling the 7 Hazards of the Campus Visit. Nancy Scott Hanway, the author of the piece, addresses the legitimate concerns of many graduate students, including being asked inappropriate questions, handling odd or random comments, and being offered alcohol. Hanway also provides a short quiz at the end of the article, which lets you put her advice into action. It's worth a read if you are gearing up for campus visits.