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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Winter 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia
Mon: 10 a.m. to noon
Wed: 10 a.m. to noon
Fri: 10 a.m. to noon

Diversity & Outreach Peer:

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco
Tue: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre
Mon: 1:30 to 4 p.m.
Tue: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wed: 1:30 to 4 p.m.

Communications Peer:
Melissa Rapp
Mon: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thu: 1 to 3 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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Apply Now for ComSciCon15: The Communicating Science Workshop

ComSciCon logoComSciCon: The Communicating Science workshop for graduate students.Apply now for ComSciCon 15, the Communication Science workshop for STEM graduate students.

This unique professional development experience will bring students together in Cambridge, MA. Attendees will meet young leaders in the field and interact with a remarkable group of invited experts. Participants will also produce an original work focused on communicating complex technical concepts from science and engineering to a new audience.

ComSciCon applications are competitive and applicants are encouraged to prepare their responses carefully.

ComSciCon 15

Deadline: Mar. 1.

Eligibility: Graduate students from all fields of science and engineering at all US institutions.

Cost: Application, registration, and attendance to the workshop are free of charge for accepted applicants.

More Information: See website description.

Application: Apply now.


Dissertation Writer's Room Reopens for the Winter Quarter

The Dissertation Writer's Room is back! Starting Tuesday, January 13, the Graduate Division's Dissertation Writer's Room will reopen for the winter quarter. This resource is open to all graduate students. Whether you are completing the final round of revisions to your dissertation, or writing your first graduate seminar paper, you don't have to write in isolation. Schedule some time to work alongside your fellow graduate students in the Dissertation Writer's Room.

Where: Student Resource Building, Room 1103
: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to noon; Wednesdays, 1 to 4 p.m.

The Graduate Division's Dissertation Writer's Room comfortably seats 18 writers and includes amenities such as ergonomic furniture, wifi, coffee, tea, water, and snacks. One of the Graduate Division Peers will host the room each day and help everyone stay on course. Peers will also be available to provide support or encouragement as needed.

We are also delighted to announce that UCSB Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS) will once again offer an evening session of the writer's room. Jay Stemmle of CLAS will facilitate this session and provide feedback (if needed) on writing and the writing process.

Where: CLAS Writing Lab, Room 3231 of the Student Resource Building
: Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m.

If you have any questions about the Dissertation Writer's Room, or suggestions for other professional development resources, please email Robert Hamm


Preparation is Key: The Academic Job Search (STEM)

The job market is a fickle mistress, and often brings incalculable angst and misery to the graduate students who enter it.  Even those who do land tenure-track positions do so only after many rejections, making the process a difficult experience for just about everyone.

Panel members prepare for discussion while the audience awaitsLuckily, however, UCSB’s Graduate Division and the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships has stepped in to alleviate as much of this misery as possible in the form of an Academic Job Search Panel on Wednesday, November 19, for STEM students and postdocs.

Bruce Kendall, Associate Dean of the Graduate Division, led the panel, which consisted of three sciences faculty members: Omer Blaes (Physics), Aaron Ettenberg (Psychological and Brain Sciences), and Megan Valentine (Mechanical Engineering). In an engaging, witty series of exchanges among both one another and the audience, these four faculty detailed the process of the job search from interview to job offer.

The members of the panel, led by Dean Kendall, decided to take it from the top, opening with an explanation of how search committees get from the stack of applications on their desks to a bottom 20 or so. The committee, very early on, pointed out that the more detailed elements of the application, such as the research and teaching statements, may not even be read in the first pass. Those documents, Dr. Ettenberg noted, only come into use after the pile has been winnowed down into a manageable size.  Early on, the CV, cover letter, amount of publications on the CV, and letters of recommendation get people into the top twenty.  

The letters of recommendation were particularly important to the panel, as was the process of networking and getting your name out there in the field.  As one of the panelists pointed out, “The Good Old Boy or Girl network is in full must be known to your community.”  While being known in the field is important, a letter of recommendation - particularly, from your advisor - is a crucial document for moving your application beyond the initial stages of the search.

The Phone or Skype Interview

Interviewing with the search committee, either by phone or via Skype, is the next step for candidates who make it into “the twenty.” The panel recommended that students prepare for this part of the process intensively, since they only have a short time to impress the audience. One member noted that a phone interview does beat a Skype interview in terms of effort, since it doesn’t matter how you are dressed.Panelists engage in Q&A with the audience

The Job Talk

The campus visit is, of course, the major event for a job candidate, and the job talk is sort of the crown jewel of the entire visit. Candidates generally have about a week or two to prepare for a campus visit.  Because of the quick turnaround time, the panel recommended planning your job talk in advance of the invite.  Because the core of the job talk is your dissertation research (or current project, if you are a post-doc), much of what you prepare won’t change from one job talk to another.  

A campus interview differs from the phone or Skype interview because there are more opportunities to tell a compelling story about your research, to speak to a wider audience, and to excite that audience about your intellect and imagination.  The job talk itself runs about 45-50 minutes, with extra time afterward (10-15 minutes) for discussion.  The panel suggested using 40-45 minutes to talk about your research, and using the final five minutes to look forward into future projects and ideas.  As Dr. Blaes noted, “The challenge of the job talk is to reach everyone in the department and convince someone who knows nothing that what you do is exciting and the one expert in your department that you’re good at what you do.” Time management is particularly important: “When they say it’s fifty minutes, it’s really fifty minutes!” Failure to manage time properly is a sign of being unprepared, something that does not go over well with the audience.

Panelists converse with students over pizza after the panelOne of the big challenges with the job talk is using technical language.  Used accurately, technical language shows that you know what you are talking about, although, of course, it can leave an audience not specialized in your sub-discipline a little bit lost.  The panel recommended starting wide, showing a broad vision, and then getting into “some meat” in terms of your detailed study - in other words, tying the technical detail back into the big picture, showing the audience that you can see the bigger picture into which your study fits.  A good job talk, they noted, tells a story with a beginning, middle, and end, with the end pointing out the result of the story: what do we know now that we didn’t know before?

The job talk is the single, shared experience that everyone in the department will have about you and your research, so it’s important to do it right.  The best way to prepare is to practice it - there is no greater aide than repetition and regular feedback from peers.  

Some schools ask for more than a single job talk.  Several panelists pointed out that a general colloquium and a separate talk with field-specific faculty sometimes occurs.  Furthermore, a separate, sample teaching lesson is sometimes asked for at different positions.  

General Advice for the Campus Visit 

  • You are being evaluated from the moment you step off the plane to the moment you get back on the plane.  The plane is probably a pretty safe place.

  • If you are offered a drink at dinner, you can feel free to take it.  But take only one, and nurse that drink.  If you don’t drink, try to find a polite way of refusing the drink.

  • You often don’t get time to chew your food at whatever restaurant they take you to, so choose your meal accordingly.

  • Never show up without a schedule of the events - you should have one emailed to you ahead of time.

  • Be prepared to hit the highlights of your research quickly - have your elevator talk ready.

  • Show an interest in what they are doing and their research areas.  Be prepared to ask questions of them.  

  • Try to find the latest papers by the faculty at the campus and read them on the flight over.

  • There is no break during the campus visit.  Ever.

  • During one-on-one interviews with faculty members throughout your campus visit, you will need coffee, or some other way to consume caffeine.  

Preparation: The Key Ingredient

From the entire discussion of the academic job search, the key takeaway that I found was preparation: prepare your CV, cover letter, and other application materials; secure letters of recommendation early; prepare for your interviews; prepare your job talks ahead of time; research the institution before the campus visit.  If you are entering a postdoc position, prepare for the later job market by acquiring teaching experience while at the position.  Use your conferencing during the job search process to make connections that will help you with the tenure and promotion process later on.  Prepare, prepare, prepare.  It’s a good mantra, and a good way to make sure you are ready for what the job market throws at you.  



Deadline Approaching for 2015 Scientist and Engineer Educators Professional Development Program

There is still time to apply for the 2015 ISEE (Institute for Scientist and Engineer Educators) Professional Development Program, which is a flexible, multi-year program for scientists and engineers at the early stages of their careers, with a primary focus on graduate students. The program is also open to postdocs, faculty members, and other scientists and engineers.

Participants receive training through workshops, work on a design team before and after workshops, continue developing their skills through mini-workshops and expert consultation, and then put their new teaching skills into practice.

The priority application deadline is Monday, December 15.

For more information, visit the program website and check out the 2015 brochure.

Contacts for:


UC Humanities Research Institute to Host Graduate Career Workshop in San Diego

The UC Humanities Research Institute and the UC Humanities Network invite graduate students to attend a statewide career workshop to be held in San Diego on Friday, February 20, 2015. The day-long, hands-on workshop will include:

  • Stories from the Field: A roundtable of recent UC Ph.D.s employed in careers alongside/beyond the academy
  • Two-part workshop on informational interviews and career trajectories for Humanities Ph.D.s led by Dr. Debra Behrens, Career Counselor at UC Berkeley
  • Hands-on workshop with The Resume Studio
  • Theorizing Our Moment: A panel conversation about work and graduate student experiences

The UC Humanities Network is pleased to provide travel and lodging grants for up to three students from each UC campus to attend the event. To register for or learn more about the conference and to apply for a travel grant, click here. Travel grant applications are due January 19, 2015.


When You Think Resume, Think Relevance: Recap of Graduate Student Career Series Workshop "The Resume"

Credit: Jasper JohnsAs graduate students and scholars, we are often taught to be comprehensive, self-promoting, and verbose. This works just fine for crafting a 4- to 8-page curriculum vitae (CV), but when it comes to writing a resume for a job outside of academia, the industry shibboleth is relevance. Employers want to know only what makes you specifically qualified for a particular job and they want to be able to find that information quickly.

John Coate of UCSB’s Career Services led a workshop last Thursday, November 13, on the differences – both in style and content – between a CV and a resume. The workshop, which is part of the ongoing Graduate Student Career Series, emphasized three main things when composing a resume: keep it concise, include only what is relevant, and engage in strategic targeting.

Main Differences between CVs and Resumes

In the U.S. context, a CV is for those working in academia and education, and a resume is for pretty much everything else. Most job descriptions will specify whether you should submit a CV or a resume; if it asks for either, it’s best to go with a CV because you can include more information that way.

Length and Format


  • At least 2 pages (most are 4-5 pages)
  • More white space in between items and at least 1” margins
  • All inclusive (“everything but the kitchen sink”)


  • 1-2 pages
  • Tighter spacing (very little white space) and smaller margins
  • Targeted and selective in content

Expected Sections


  • Education
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Publications
  • Presentations


  • Education
  • Relevant experience
  • Skills

Credit: woodleywonderworks

There is a lot of flexibility beyond the core categories of each. While most people create a generic CV and then submit it to different institutions with a few tweaks, the key to resumes is researching the company/industry beforehand and providing targeted information that they will find important and relevant. Think of your resume as the very first assignment that your potential employer is giving you – be thorough in your research, strategic in your inclusion of information, and impeccable in your presentation.

In-Depth Look at the Sections of the Resume

Name and Contact Information

  • This should be at the top
  • Include name, address, phone, and an (appropriate) e-mail address
  • Optionally include your personal LinkedIn link or professional website URL

Objective Statement

  • Optional
  • Should only be included if you are giving your resume to a person (such as a friend or assistant) who will be circulating it to various hiring managers who may need to know what position(s) you are interested in
  • If you are applying for a specific job, integrate the objective statement into the first paragraph of your cover letter instead
  • Clearly and concisely identify the specific position, employer, and/or industry


  • Put this before the experience section only if you are in school, are close to graduation, or are recently graduated
  • Include school name, city and state, degree and concentration, date completed (or expected)


  • Heading for each position should include: job title, name of employer, city and state, and dates of employment
  • Each position should be accompanied by a bulleted list that describes: an overview of the position, details of your work most related to the position you’re pursuing, and selected outcomes of your efforts (such as accomplishments, honors, etc.)
  • Start most bullet point statements with action verbs
  • Important! Include keywords from the job description


  • Specific transferable skills that are most relevant to the target position (e.g. computer skills or language skills)
  • Omit general or soft skills (such as “team player,” “open-minded,” etc.), which can go in your cover letter
  • You may choose to highlight particularly relevant skills in a section at the top of your resume called “Summary of Qualifications”

Want more help with your resume?

Take advantage of additional assistance offered by Career Services, such as one-on-one counseling, the Career Resource Room, and the Career Resources website.

Also, check out these article on how to turn your CV into a resume:


The Quick and Painless Academic Job Search Guide

Two weeks ago, the Graduate Division hosted a panel discussion as part of its Academic Job Search Series (read the recap here). The faculty panel bequeathed oodles of valuable information and advice on the different stages of the academic job search, from the perspective of being successful applicants themselves and from their experience of serving on hiring committees.

Vitae has now come out with an extensive guide to the academic job search, written by The Professor Is In's Karen Kelsky. The guide covers the basics of the whole process - from crafting your application materials to negotiating an offer - in a candid and helpful way. Click here to download the free guide.


Crafting a Personal Board of Advisors

Credit: RPI HubAdvisory boards aren't just for businesses and charities. In a recent article for Vitae, Allison Vaillancourt argues that most people need more than just a mentor to help them navigate whatever professional setting they are in. In fact, she says, "almost all of us could benefit from a dedicated braintrust to offer us advice, help us wrestle with ethical dilemmas, interpret events, share perspectives on our current challenges, critique our decisions, and position us to move forward with greater confidence."

While graduate students are typically good at finding people with expertise in their field, they are not always as good at finding people who have strategic prowess and can advise them in areas where they lack knowledge or access. A personal board of advisors cannot and should not replace a formal advisor, but it is "simply a collection of people who want you to be successful and are willing to provide you with guidance and insights from time to time."

Vaillancourt provides a few suggestions for the types of people that could be valuable assets on a personal board of advisors, including:

  • A personal board of advisors "forms a collective in your life, not in all of theirs," Vaillancourt says. Photo credit: Fabio Alessandro LocatiThe packager: can make even a small idea seem like a well-established national model by giving it a compelling name and producing a flyer and a one-page website.
  • The insider: knows and sees all, and serves as an important translator of decisions and resource allocations.
  • The pop culture expert: alerts me to memes, movies, TV trends, and celebrity news that I can incorporate into cocktail party conversations, writing, and presentations.
  • The technologist: keeps me up-to-date on social media, software programs, and emerging technologies.
  • The connector: knows everyone in my city and is always willing to make an introduction.

To find out more about how to cultivate a personal board of advisors, read the rest of Vaillancourt's article here.


California Attorney General Seeks UC Volunteers

Program Information. The Office of the Attorney General is seeking applications from graduate students who are willing to accept unpaid volunteer positions that offer a valuable opportunity to gain exposure to the office while also obtaining valuable research, litigation, communications, and/or policy analysis experience. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with legal experts on matters of public interest and importance. The position will be based out of the following Attorney General Offices: Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento, San Diego, or San Francisco.

Minimum Qualifications. Volunteers should have strong written and verbal communication skills, excellent organization skills, prior experience, or a strong interest in policy issues, and enjoy a fast-paced environment working independently or with a team. Volunteers should be responsible, reliable, and extremely attentive to detail. Applications will be accepted from undergraduate students, graduate students, law students, as well as law school graduates willing to volunteer their services. Volunteers will be responsible for transportation and will need to dedicate at least 24 hours a week during the school year or 40 hours during the summer. A semester commitment is required for current students; a one-year commitment is required for recent law graduates.

How to Apply. Please submit a cover letter, resume, a writing sample of no more than 10 pages, and three references to Charlene Brava by e-mail or to the following address: Office of the Attorney General, Executive Office, 455 Golden Gate Avenue, Suite 1100, San Francisco, CA 94102.  Please include preferred start date, preferred end date, work schedule, and preferred office location.

Click here to see the full flyer with more information.


Do Your Homework and Be Yourself: A Recap of the Academic Job Search Panel Discussion

For those of you who are in the academic job hunt or just thinking about it, the Academic Job Search Panel on Tuesday, November 4, had some advice for you: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.

Panelists Stuart Smith, Kate McDonald, and Betsy Brenner with moderator Carol Dean Genetti. Credit: Shawn Warner-Garcia

The session was moderated by Graduate Division Dean Carol Genetti and the panel consisted of three faculty members who have experience on both sides of the process – being interviewed as well as conducting faculty searches. Paneltists included Betsy Brenner from Education, Kate McDonald from History, and Stuart Smith from Anthropology.

The faculty panelists provided insight into all four steps of the interview process: assessing applications, first-round interviews, campus visits and job talks, and negotiating the job offer.

On Assessing Applications

Read the Job Description: make sure you are the right fit for the job by meeting all the minimum requirements for the position before applying. If you don't meet the minimum requirements, you are wasting your time and the search committee's time because they will throw out your application, probably while laughing.

Do Your Homework: research the university, department, and program you are interested in to see if you can Do your research. Credit: openclipart.combe the right colleague for the faculty in that department. What can you bring to that department through your research and other experience?

Explain Your Research: clearly explain what your research agenda is and how your dissertation and publications (if any) move this agenda along. How do your conferences and presentations relate to your research? If you cannont communicate your research agenda clearly, you are not ready for the job.

Get Good Reference Letters: get good detailed letters from people who know you (who are either ladder faculty or leaders in the field). People who can talk in detail about your research and your ability to teach, mentor, or provide other service to the university.

Provide Something Extra: What can you bring to the department besides the minimum requirements? What other experience do you have that will help members in that department with their research or help the department with teaching their courses? Do you have experience across disciplines and can you teach in other areas?

On First-Round Interviews

Do Your Homework (Again): Research the university, program, and department. You need to know the Prepare for typical questions. Credit: openclipart.cominstitution in and out and have a vision of how you fit into the department with your research and other experience, such as what courses can you teach to help the university or the program.

Research The Committee: find out what faculty members will be sitting in on your first-round interview before the interview takes place. Will it be just one or two members or the full panel? Find out their research interests and backgrounds so you can prepare to address their concerns.

Prepare for Typical Questions:

  • What is your background, your interests, and your research? (Your basic elevator pitch that you should always have in your back pocket.)
  • Where do you see you yourself in five years? (Create a plan of what you want to do and where you want to go with your teaching and research before they ask. This may not be the plan you ultimately follow but you need to sound like you have thought about your future goals.)
  • Why do you want to come to our university? (Are you coming for the right reasons, such as the research, faculty, and/or teaching opportunities offered there? Or are you applying for the wrong reasons, like the nice weather?)
  • What topics would you cover in a course for undergraduates? For graduates? What other courses would you be able to teach? (If you can cover a wide swath of curriculum, you would be a good candidate for another interview.)
  • What new courses would you like to develop? (If possible, have syllabi prepared for some of your dream courses.)
  • What is your experience with advising and mentoring students? (Or working with diverse groups?)
  • How would your research contribute to the faculty in the department? (Or, what kind of interdisciplinary connections can you make?)

Create A Syllabus: Draft a syllabus (or three). Some universities ask for an undergraduate or graduate course syllabus for a course you have taught before or might teach for them.

Be Ready For Skype Interviews:

  • Test Your Equipment: make sure the camera and sound work well. Test the system with a call to a Keep your pants on. Credit: 9gag.comfriend. If possible, use a hard-wired connection and not wifi for better signal strength.
  • Choose A Good Location: pick a quiet location with a non-distracting background. A plain background is best.
  • Dress Professionally: wear professional clothing. It doesn't have to be a suit, but just because you are at home doesn't mean you should skip wearing pants.
  • Watch Your Angle: Look straight at the camera when talking. Choose a good camera angle so you're not staring down at the committee or showing an unflattering view of yourself.

Campus Visit

Know What You're In For: prepare for a visit that lasts two days, goes from morning to night, and consists of non-stop meetings and meals with graduate students, faculty, and the Dean.

Hone Your Job Talk and Q & A: create a balance between theory and practice. The job talk is the centerpiece of your visit, so make sure you run through it several times with colleagues until it is polished like a diamond. A good Q & A is just as important for a succesful talk. Practice taking and answering questions until you seem like the poised, confident presenter they want to hire.

Handle Your Stress: Don't freak out. Calm yourself by imagining that you are meeting with a bunch of colleagues to give a lecture.

Prepare For Individual Faculty Interviews: Make the conversation easy for the both of you. Learn about the individual faculty in the department and their research interests so you are prepared to ask them questions and to explain how your research will benefit them or the department. Don't dominate the conversation.

Prepare For The Chair: department chairs like to get questions. Ask about the specifics of the job: teaching load, type of courses taught, salary (how it is determined, if it is negotiable or not), benefits, sabbaticals, expectations for the department and campus committees, what kind of support you have for teaching, and how many students are in the major.

Mind Your Manners: don't drink too much alcohol or order food that is difficult or messy to eat when going out Mind your manners at the dinner table. Credit: openclipart.comwith faculty. Try to engage all faculty members in conversation because you never know who will benefit you. Don't assume you know who is the most important or powerful person at the table.

Be Genuine: be who you are. It doesn't benefit you or the department to pretend to be someone else. You want to find the right fit for you since you will, hopefully, be spending most of your life with these people.

The Job Offer

The job offer normally consists of three things: a salary, moving expenses, and start-up research funds.

Your Salary: the amount depends on how the university determines funding. Some have salary scales and tables, and take into account different factors like previous experience, publications, or if you're famous in your field. The groundwork for the salary is usually laid beforehand on the campus visit when you talk to the chair and Dean.

Multiple Offers: be honest. If you are interviewing with other institutions, keep everyone in the loop. It's better for all parties if you are honest. It lets each university have a chance to make you an offer and also allows them to match an offer that has been made by another university.

Negotiating: negotiate salary or benefits if you can. Find out beforehand on your campus visit or from other faculty at the university what is negotiable. For example, salary is sometimes fixed but you can negotiate research funding, office location, and furniture.

Spousal Accommodation: hiring a spouse has become common practice these days. Many universities make an Don't talk all the time. Credit: openclipart.comeffort, so do your research beforehand to see if this possible.

Don't Be That Person

Some common gaffes to avoid:

  • constantly talking about yourself
  • not having done your research on the department (making errors about what they do or don't do)
  • not engaging everyone in conversation (only talking to certain people)
  • not showing your genuine interest in the university or department (talking about how this place is just a stepping stone to your real aspirations)


Stay tuned for more information on other upcoming events in the Graduate Division's Academic Job Search series, including:

The Academic Job Search:
A Panel Discussion on Postdocs in STEM

Wednesday, November 19
1-2:30 p.m.
Elings 1601

The Academic Job Search:
A Panel Discussion on Job Interviews and Negotiating a Job Offer

Details TBA

Subscribe to The GradPost to receive updates and recaps on the Academic Job Search series, as well as other top stories for UCSB graduate students.

Shawn Warner-Garcia contributed to this recap.