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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

Wed: 12:30 to 5 p.m.
Thurs: 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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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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!


Preparing for an Academic Job Phone Interview

Credit: Microsoft OfficeThe academic job phone interview is a common part of the hiring process. If you have been contacted to participate in a phone interview, congratulations, you are on the short list.

However, the phone interview should not be taken lightly. The search committee typically uses the phone interview to screen applicants and determine who should and should not be invited for the campus visit. So, make sure that you are prepared and ready to shine in your phone interview.

There are many websites and guides that provide tips for preparing for an academic job phone interview:

Ultimately, the authors of these guides and websites all say the same things:

  • Be prepared! Prepare and rehearse a two- to three-minute description of your dissertation as well as your teaching philosophy.
  • Smile while you talk (the interviewers can hear this in your voice).
  • Keep your responses short, since it is often hard to keep the interviewers' attention over the phone.
  • Speak clearly and slowly. Make it easy for the interviewers to hear you.
  • Create two to three talking points for each of the qualifications on the job posting.

I highly recommend looking at Columbia's list of sample interview questions as well as other online examples, and then prepare responses or bullet points for the common questions (e.g., What changes would you make in your dissertation if you had to do it all over again?). Also, put together a list of questions that you would like to ask the interviewers (here are some sample questions). The more prepared you are, the more confident, and less nervous, you will be during the interview.

Skype logoYou may be asked to do an interview via Skype instead of over the phone. This is a common practice. Keep in mind all of the bullet points above. However, it is also critical to dress professionally, set the scene (e.g., the background of your video), and use sticky notes on your computer for the important points that you want to get across (rather than looking down or shuffling through papers).

Good luck!


The Professor is In: At UCSB

Dr. Karen KelskyLast week, the Graduate Division sponsored a live webcast with Dr. Karen Kelsky, who goes by the title, “The Professor.” Dr. Kelsky has written articles for the Chronicle of Higher Education as well as countless posts for her blog: The Professor is In: Pearls of Wisdom.

Dr. Kelsky has risen to fame in the eyes of graduate students because she provides the down-and-dirty insight about pursuing a job in academia that faculty advisors often fail to share.

Dr. Kelsky started her presentation with a depressing overview of the state of higher education and a description of the job application process (key takeaway: search committee members are too busy, distracted, and stressed to care about you; in fact, they want to reject you!). I started wondering, how can I compete for a position with 1,000 other applicants when a search committee will spend less than 20 seconds looking at my application?

Dr. Kelsky’s advice for standing out from the other applicants:

  • Think about graduate school as a means to a job
  • Don’t be yourself
  • Create outstanding application documents

Dr. Kelsky’s advice of thinking about graduate school as a means to a job was both helpful and disheartening. Ultimately, everything you do in graduate school, according to Dr. Kelsky, should add a new line to your CV. However, what you do in graduate school is not equally weighted. Search committees are looking for applicants with multiple peer-reviewed journal articles, research grants, and presentations at a national conference. Dr. Kelsky feels that search committee members will not be impressed if you have a lot of teaching experience or academic service (unless these are listed in the job announcement). As a result, focus more time on writing, submitting grant proposals, and presenting and less time on teaching and service.

While I do agree that thinking long term about how each thing you do in graduate school will shape your future, I also think that graduate school is much more than a means to a job. Graduate school is a place to explore, discover, and learn with others. It’s a place to talk and debate with intellectuals, innovate, and challenge the limits of knowledge in your field. You will only get so much out of graduate school if you spend your time solely in a lab or writing. The connections that you make in graduate school through getting involved, mentoring undergraduates, and teaching are invaluable. Although these may not show up as a line on your CV, they will shape who you are and help you during your job interview.

Another piece of wisdom that Dr. Kelsky shared was “Don’t be yourself.” This means don’t be the insubordinate, insignificant, lowly graduate student who is not worthy of a job. Instead, be confident and act as though you are a peer of the search committee.

Finally, Dr. Kelsky advised the audience that stellar application documents are essential for successfully getting a job in academia. Here are some of her blog posts for more information about creating magnificent application documents:

Overall, Dr. Kelsky provided realistic and useful advice about the job market. Check out her Pearls of Wisdom blog for more insights.


Fall Career Fair Day 2 Is Today at Corwin

It’s Day 2 of the Fall Career Fair. Day 1 was geared toward science, technology, and engineering. Today’s fair is All Majors Day.

Date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Time: Noon to 4 p.m. (early admission from noon to 1 p.m.)
Location: Corwin Pavilion (East end of UCen)

View the Office of Public Affairs and Communications video below for a look at Day 1. Also, view photos from Day 1 on Career Services' Facebook page.


UCSB's Fall Career Fair from UC Santa Barbara on Vimeo.





Resources for CV and Resume Writing

Career Services logoAs the Fall Career Fair approaches, it's important to put together a strong CV or resume to show to potential employers. Fall is also the season for applying to faculty positions. So, here are some helpful resources to get you started on CV and resume writing:

GradPost Articles

Career Services

Drop-In Hours: You can bring your resume or CV to the Career Services Resource Room during drop-in hours to get feedback from a Career Counselor. Graduate Student drop-in hours are Tuesdays from 1 to 2 p.m. or Fridays from 11 a.m. to noon.

Individual Appointments: You can also make individual appointments for up to 30 minutes with Career Counselors. To make an appointment, visit:

Other Resources


Finding and Applying to Faculty Positions

Finding a faculty position is a long process that often starts with the job search in late August and ends with negotiating a job offer in March or April. The process of finding and applying to jobs seems to be the most tedious part. I am currently going through that process right now and hope to share some tips and resources with you.

Job Search

HigherEdJobs logoStart by setting up job alerts on the popular job search sites, such as The Chronicle of Higher Education, Academic Keys, Higher Education Recruitment Consortium, and HigherEdJobs. Setting up a job alert typically requires setting up a profile on the site. After you set up your profile, look for "career tools" or "alerts" and set up a job alert with specific keywords related to your discipline. The great thing about job alerts is that when a new job that meets your specifications is posted, you will receive an email, which saves you time from having to visit multiple websites on a daily basis.

Another great job search resource is the Academic Jobs Wiki. This is a user-generated site with updated information about the job search process in various disciplines.

It is also important to let your advisor know that you are on the job market. Faculty advisors often receive job postings from the many professional organizations and list-servs they have joined. Ask your advisor to forward relevant job postings to you (this is how I found out about three great job positions!).

Don't forget to contact your networks and let them know you are searching for a job. Post about your job search on your social media pages and ask friends to forward job postings to you.

Also, take a look at professional organization websites. Many of these websites have Career pages where you can find additional job postings related to your discipline.


Each position that you apply to will ask for multiple documents (e.g., CV, cover letter, transcripts, writing samples, letters of recommendation). Therefore, you will need an organizational strategy to keep track of everything.

I use a Google Spreadsheet to keep track of all of the job search websites, all of the positions that I have applied to, and all of the positions that I would like to apply to.

Interfolio logoIf you are applying to multiple job positions that require letters of recommendation, you might want to check out Interfolio. You can ask your recommenders to submit their letters directly to Interfolio. Interfolio also allows you to upload all of your application documents and it sends the application via certified mail or e-mail for you. However, Interfolio has a yearly fee as well as fees for mailing the applications. I found it to be too costly for applying to only three jobs that needed letters of recommendation.

Applying to Jobs

I'm conflicted about whether to recommend to apply to all of the jobs that are applicable to your skill set or whether to be more selective. I personally only feel confident applying to Education Technology positions because I have the strongest expertise in that field. However, Berkeley's Career Center presents a compelling argument for applying to positions even when you may not be a perfect fit (see "The Hiring Process From the Other Side"). Regardless of what you decide, don't select so many jobs to apply to that you feel overwhelmed with the process and give up altogether.

Once you have narrowed down the jobs that you would like to apply to, start by focusing on the three to five jobs that have the earliest deadlines. Take baby steps. Submit those applications first, then complete two to three more at a time until you've completed and submitted all of the applications. This will make the process of organizing five or more documents for 15 or more positions manageable.

Good Luck

As you embark on the process of applying to faculty positions, feel free to share your tips and advice by commenting on this post!


You’re a Researcher, So Do That Research Before a Job Interview

As a grad student at one of the top research universities in the nation and the world, you are well aware of methods and means of doing your research. But when applying and interviewing for a job, do you remember to use those skills?

In a recent column on, John Daly, founder and president of Santa Barbara-based The Key Class, a guide for job search success, says doing your homework on the company you wish to join is crucial.

One tip he offers is to search for three facts about the company. During the job interview, make sure to include these facts as part of the conversation. You are bound to impress the potential employer with your knowledge of the company and how it operates.

Daly gives several other valuable tips on “doing your homework” before the interview. You can read his column on Noozhawk, and view a short, related video by CareerBuilder there.


Advice from a Professor on Managing your Advisor

We came across a helpful website today, How to Do Great Research: Creativity and grad school survival advice from Professor Nick Feamster, which is written by a professor at Georgia Tech. It is full of tips and advice for Ph.D. students. We especially liked the latest blog post about Managing Your Advisor. Some of the tips include:

  • Ask your advisor for what you need
  • Try to meet your advisor once a week, even if you think you have nothing to talk about
  • Attend every single group meeting
  • If you need more of your advisor’s time, ask for it

Head on over to the blog for the full article and let us know if you have any advice on the subject in the comments!


Vitae: A New Online Career Service from the Chronicle of Higher Education

For those students interested in academic jobs, the Chronicle of Higher Education is launching a new online career hub exclusively for higher education called Vitae. It will allow you to get access to exclusive career advice and news, connect to fellow academics, apply for the best jobs, and use career management tools like the free dossier service.

The full site will launch in the fall, but some articles are already posted. Sign up for their mailing list now to receive career advice and updates on the launch.


UCSB Career Services Among Nation’s Most Popular College Career Services Centers on Social Media

UC Santa Barbara's Career Services was recently ranked No. 6 on a list of the nation’s top 25 most popular college career services departments nationwide on social media.

In its first such rankings, JobBrander looked at career services centers at institutions that ranked in the top 200 on U.S. News and World Report’s annual list of the best national universities, where UCSB took the No. 41 spot. In March of this year, UCSB’s Materials, Chemical Engineering, and Education graduate programs were ranked highly in the U.S. News annual list for 2014.

Career Services Director Ignacio GallardoOn JobBrander's list, UCSB outranked such heavyweights as Princeton University (No. 22), Rutgers University (No. 17), and Brown University (No. 15).

Of UCSB’s Career presence on Facebook and Twitter, JobBrander wrote: “UCSB’s career services department is consistent, even throughout the summer, and that commitment has brought them to #6 on our list with over 6,700 likes and followers. Most of their content is advice for job-seekers, but they also highlight career services events like job fairs and workshops.”

UCSB Career Services staff is led by newly named Director Ignacio Gallardo. Don Lubach, Associate Dean of Students and Director of First-Year and Graduate Initiatives, told the GradPost: “Under Gallardo’s leadership, Career Services has been brave and creative with new media. While delivering wonderful, low-tech, face-to-face meetings with graduate students and undergrads, they are always experimenting with new ways to deliver their good services.”

For more information and to see the full list, read JobBrander’s article.