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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Fall 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Writing Peer
Kyle Crocco

Mon, Wed: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Funding Peer
Stephanie Griffin
Mon: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Wed: 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Fri: 9-11 a.m.

Diversity Peer
Charles Williams

Tue, Thu: 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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The Science of Networking

When you think of networking, what is a metaphor that comes to mind? Speed dating? Collecting poker chips to cash in later? Sowing the seeds of future career success?

Credit: Gillian Blease/GettyIn a recent article on NatureJobs, Peter Fiske compares the concept of networking with that of valence bands in chemistry. Now, I'm not a scientist, but I am a linguist, so I know a thing or two about valence. (OK, full disclosure, I know exactly two things about linguistic valence: it's a thing and it involves how grammatical elements combine in a sentence.) In scientific fields, valence is related to the combining power of an element. When you think about networking, think about the availability and investment of people in different "shells" that radiate outward from yourself.

  1. In the first shell of your network are the people you know firsthand. Many young scholars assume that friends and family members in their valence band who are outside their academic field hold little professional networking value. In reality, friends and family members have their own networks, and those networks may contain a few people who might be able to help you in your job search or with career development. And because your friends and family members know and care about you, they are often eager to do whatever they can to help you, including warmly introducing you to anyone in their own networks.
  2. The second shell of your network (your friends' friends and contacts) plays a huge part in fostering your career progress and development. For one thing, there are a lot of people at this level. If your immediate network consists of 150 people to whom you feel comfortable asking for help, and each of them has a similarly sized network, theoretically, you have a "conduction band" in your network of 22,500 people. At least a few people will be in careers or positions in which they could be of enormous help to you.
  3. Although the numbers in the third shell of your network (friends of your friends' friends) are huge, their utility in your career is limited. Third-shell people share no personal connection with you and so are not predisposed to help you. If you want to communicate with a third-shell contact, you should first solidify your relationship with the person in your second shell who connects the two of you. In effect, you are turning the second-shell contact into a first-shell friend. 

As always, at the heart of networking is maintaining personal relationships. This is where many networking metaphors come up short or set people up for disappointment. Networking is not a set-it-and-forget-it type of endeavor, and no one in your professional network wants to feel like you are just being opportunitistic in connecting with them. Take the time to get to know people and their story. Coincidentally, this will also aid in not feeling sleazy about networking.

And remember that your network operates in two directions: the degree to which you help others is often linked to how much help you yourself receive. Your network becomes stronger through the help that you give. A well-tended and extensive network is one of the most valuable assets for professionals in today's economy. Those who invest in both their work and their relationships will reap the greatest number of opportunities.

To read Fiske's full article on NatureJobs, click here. Also, for more advice on networking from a graduate student's perspective, read Rachel Harris' companion article on the NatureJobs blog.

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


Making Mindfulness Part of Your Job Search Toolbox

"I'll never find a job."

“My adviser won’t give me a recommendation if I tell him I’m exploring careers outside of academia.”

“Why did I say that in my interview? That was so stupid. I completely ruined my chances.”

Walking the UCSB Labyrinth is a great way to practice meditation and mindfulness. Credit: BrianWe all have a little voice in our heads. Sometimes it can be complimentary, but often it’s a nagging sense of negativity. In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Sue Levine writes that self-talk is one way in which we interpret the world around us. When the stressors of graduate school, life in general, and the unpredictability of a job search converge, self-talk can become self-defeating and quickly spiral downward into excessive negativity.

Practicing mindfulness as part of your job search can help lessen the anxiety. Caroline Contillo, columnist at Idealist Careers, writes, "Mindfulness is the quality of being able to stay with the present moment on purpose and without judgment." You are working to train your mind to notice stressful thoughts, but to minimize the response to them. Levine lists several pieces of advice for practicing mindfulness:

  • Be intentional. Instead of just clicking “apply” and submitting résumé after résumé, develop a plan and be intentional about the applications you submit. The blanket approach is usually not very successful, and search committees or hiring managers can tell when someone has applied to a job without really thinking about it.
  • Practice breathing meditation. Set a timer for a certain amount of time, such as five minutes. Close your eyes, take deep breaths and count your breaths from one to 10, and then backward from 10 to one. If you find your mind wandering, just slowly bring your attention back to the present.
  • Be in the moment. Don’t focus on the past and don’t relive past job search blunders. Focus on the job search task at hand and you will be better positioned to combat negative thinking.

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.


Advice for Aspiring Academics

Credit: GotCreditPublish or perish. Fortune favors the bold. Trust no one.

These disparate pieces of advice may sound familiar to those interested in going on the academic job market. In a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Philip Nel offers up a dozen tips to help you in your hunt for that ever-elusive tenure-track position. Here are a few samples from that list:

  • Publish everything. Conferences papers are already half of an article or book chapter.
  • Believe in and doubt merit. Believe in merit because it motivates you to produce and inspires you to keep going, despite the odds. But doubt merit because the vast number of Ph.D.s on the job market means that merit will never be enough.
  • Make your CV easy to read. Look at other people’s CVs online: Which ones are easy to read? Model yours on those examples. Which ones are confusing? Avoid their mistakes.
  • Recognize the limitations of this advice. Advice may sometimes seem absurd, paradoxical or impossible. There is no magic formula to landing the elusive tenure-track job.
  • Do not define success according to academe’s terms. Given the scarcity of traditional academic careers, there are many reasons not to pursue a traditional academic career. Seeking an alternative-academic job is not failure. Leaving academia altogether is not failure. You have much to offer your community. You can do many things.

To read the full article, click here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


UC Humanities Research Institute Seeks Applications for Research Communications and Projects Manager Position

The UC Humanities Research Institute, the systemwide organization for all 10 campuses in the UC system, seeks a talented and motivated individual with experience in academic and research communications, as well as program administration. The Research Communications and Projects Manager will work in close collaboration with the Director, Assistant Director, Program Officer, and technical staff. The person hired will be responsible for scholarly communications, including UCHRI's social media and web presence, and related programming initiatives. This position will coordinate and manage website redesign and maintenance; manage social media outputs for all UCHRI projects and programs; and administer a public-facing scholarly blog or series on critical interventions in the humanities. The Research Communications Manager will also contribute to substantive program development and administration of current and upcoming UCHRI programs, including but not limited to public and digital humanities projects and Humanists@Work. This position will coordinate all of UCHRI's communications, both research and programming.

The University of California, Irvine, is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer committed to excellence through diversity. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, protected veteran status, or other protected categories covered by the UC nondiscrimination policy.

Required qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in the humanities.
  • Understanding of academic and educational functions of major research university.
  • Deep understanding of and appreciation for academic and humanistic enterprise.
  • Ability to articulate academic values to diverse constituencies.
  • Superior research, writing, editing, and proofreading skills.
  • Experience in new media communications, social and digital media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogging, podcasting).
  • Experience designing and working with websites (e.g., WordPress).
  • Demonstrated ability to manage multi-faceted programs and projects.
  • Demonstrated ability to work and prioritize in a multi-project, deadline-driven environment.
  • Proven ability to work both collaboratively and independently with little supervision.
  • Strong attention to detail and follow-through.

Salary Range: $52,000-55,000
Work Schedule: 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday-Friday
Contract Position: This is a 100% yearlong contract position, with possibility of renewal, contingent on budget.

Please apply on the UC Irvine employment website.


How to Cope with the Challenges of a Career Transition

Credit: "Defehrt epinglier pl2," designed by Goussier, engraved by Defehrt. Diderot's Encyclopédie (1762)Coming to a career transition point can feel an awful lot like failure. But, as Elizabeth Kennan argues in a recent article on Vitae, failure can actually be a useful thing. She offers some straightforward advice from her experience with a career transition:

  • Read the books and take the personality tests. Your skills will fit in a lot of different places – some you expect and others you don’t. So ignore the quiet voice in your head that keeps telling you it’s useless to take personality tests or read books about changing careers. If you can get that voice to shut up, you will learn how you work and what your values are, and find career paths that match those values. Visit our campus Career Services desk to sign up for the assessments.
  • Ask for help. Talk to a job coach, career counselor, family member, or friend to offer encouragement, advice, and connections.
  • Do a lot of informational interviews. These can provide useful insights such as a lot of people have unpredictable career paths, the importance of figuring out your personal narrative, and that there may be certain careers you should avoid.
  • Don't be a career snob. Well-meaning friends and family (and even you) may express resistance against a career that may be suitable for you just because it's deemed "low status."
  • You will have bad days. Mourning and second-guessing are normal parts of the career transition process. The more you embrace this, the easier it will be to let go.

Read the full article on Vitae's website here.

To get regular updates from Vitae, sign up for their e-mail digest, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


Join August 18 Career Workshop to Find Out What Matters Most in an Interview

In an article last fall on the key considerations in getting hired, I discussed three criteria that are of utmost importance to employers in virtually any hiring decision:

  1. Ability to succeed: employers must gain a solid sense of one’s ability to succeed in the work and bring value to the organization, ideally within a relatively short period of time and with minimal “hand-holding.”
  2. Interest in the position: employers need to get a sense of one’s enthusiasm for and commitment to the work and organization.
  3. Organizational “fit”: employers want to feel that one will be a good potential fit for their team in regards to considerations including organizational culture, personality traits, attitude, and simply whether the person is liked. 

In all phases of the hiring process – networking, job search correspondence, CV/resume and cover letter, etc. – it is important for candidates to focus on these criteria. But nowhere is it more vital than in the interview. In interviews, candidates are basically charged with successfully addressing these key requirements, usually in a very limited amount of time. And virtually every interview question is a form of the employer asking about these areas.

Source: Wakefield LibrarySo what is the best way to go about this? To begin with, research is vital. Absorb as much information as you can on the position, employer, and industry. Educate yourself in terms of what the most valued qualifications are, including digging into the job description, studying the employer’s website, reviewing industry links and publications, and ideally talking to people in the field. Dig for as much information as you can in regards to the culture of the organization and, ideally, the specific unit/team you would potentially be working in.

Then start connecting what you’ve done and who you are with those items. Make a list of the educational, extracurricular, and work related experiences and accomplishments that are most pertinent to the position you are pursuing, as well as your related hard and soft skills. Then start forming and rehearsing answers to potential questions from employers in each area. For example:

Ability to Succeed:

  • Describe your research
  • How will you go about revising your dissertation for publication?
  • What is your teaching philosophy?
  • How would you teach?
  • Take us through your resume
  • What are your strengths?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • Tell us about a time when you: led a team, organized a project from start to finish, overcame a challenge, had a conflict with a coworker, failed at something, etc.

Interest in the Position:

  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why are you interested in our school/organization?
  • How does this position fit into your career goals?
  • What led you to choose your field of study?
  • What are the major issues in our industry currently?

Organizational Fit:

  • What is most important to you in an employer?
  • What rewards are most important to you in your career?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What are your hobbies and interests?
  • What style of supervision do you prefer?
  • How did you get along with your former advisers/supervisors/coworkers?

There is of course no guaranteed formula for acing an interview, as it is usually a highly competitive process with several factors of limited to no control. But if you can zero in on what is most important to an employer, in the context of these three key aspects, you give yourself the best chance of being hired.

Find out more professional tips on the interviewing process at my workshop next Tuesday, August 18, from 11 a.m. to noon in Career Services Room 1109. In this session, we will discuss the key aspects that employers are probing for and how to be ready as well as delve into some popular interview questions.

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


The Do's and Don'ts of Leaving Academia

Credit: NaturejobsIn a recent GradPost article, we introduced you to the two most important soft skills an academic can develop, according to Naturejobs blogger Elizabeth Silva. In a follow-up article, Silva discusses some of the most valuable experiences that scholars can pursue to gain those soft skills, as well as some dos and don'ts of the process.

  • Don’t be tempted to develop an array of skills with the hope of marketing yourself to whatever job happens to arise. Start exploring different careers to get an idea of what you want to do, then develop skills that are related to that job or career.
  • Don’t be discouraged by a lack of internship opportunities, or on-the-job experience. There are plenty of other ways to get experience, each offering unique benefits.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of small experiences. These are useful even when they can’t be used as a section on your resume.
  • Do ask several professionals in your career of interest what sort of experience is necessary and useful. They are best equipped to provide up-to-date and relevant advice.
  • Do seek opportunities to try tasks related to specific jobs and careers of interest. This is a valuable way of testing the fit of a new career.
  • Do ask yourself, as you undertake these experiences, whether you enjoy the work. Take time to parse out why you do (or don’t) like it, so you can learn from each experience.

To read the full article on Naturejobs, click here.

To get regular updates from Naturejobs, connect via Facebook and Twitter.


Resume Writing and 'Verbal Origami'

Credit: Simona“What do you want someone to take away having read your resume?”

This is the question that Joseph Barber addresses in a recent article on Inside Higher Ed. He argues that asking this question is especially important for Ph.D. students and postdocs working on transforming their academic CVs into resumes.

In building a resume, Barber recommends that academics not necessarily start from a CV because it tends to show only one or two versions of the writer: the successful researcher and/or the effective teacher. With resumes, there are many more versions of yourself that you can create depending on where you want to put the emphasis in terms of skills, experience, and knowledge.

It's important to remember that you always use multiple skills in whatever you do, but your job in a resume is to draw attention to the skills that are most relevant to the reader. A little bit of "verbal origami" is all you need to achieve this. You can think of verbal origami as the process of taking one of your skills-based experience bullet points from your resume and verbally folding and refolding it so that it can emphasize different skills for the different positions you might be applying to. Consider the following three examples, which all capture the same experience but fold it in different ways:

  1. Created new assessment tool as part of a team to determine success of new training methodology.
  2. Collaborated with team of two MBA students and an engineer to develop an online assessment tool used to measure training outcomes.
  3. Successfully used Qualtrics and SPSS to develop a tool to help analyze 30-minute online assessments for training outcomes that is now used as a standard protocol and tool for evaluation in an office of 15 researchers.

The first option emphasizes the skill of creating, which would be ideal if the job description mentioned something about being creative, innovative, or showing outside the box thinking. The second example shows an emphasis on teamwork and collaboration, focusing in more detail on quantifiable elements that make the team feel like real people in a real-life context. The third "folding" increases the visibility of the technical skills involved in the project and adds an outcome, demonstrating how effective the applicant's skill is.

To read the full article (and find out how to make your resume read better than the Twilight books), click here.

To get regular updates from Inside Higher Ed, sign up for the newsletter, or connect via Facebook or Twitter.


Become a Management Fellow with the Los Angeles Department of Human Resources

The County of Los Angeles Department of Human Resources is pleased to announce the Management Fellow position, a two-year paid fellowship for individuals who are interested in pursuing a career in County government. Applicants must have a Master's degree or higher, or be current students who will complete their graduate degree requirements by December 31, 2015.

To view the job posting, click here.

Applications will be accepted from July 27-August 7.

For more information about the program, visit their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, and view their program flyer here.


Acing the Informal Interview

Credit: COD NewsroomIn a recent article on Inside Higher Ed, Stephanie Eberle discusses the differences between a formal interview (which many job seekers get lots of advice about) and an informal interview (when there may not be an opening at a company, but a possibility for a future opportunity). Luckily, the top strategy for success in any interview is the same: a well-developed marketing plan. A good informal interview will be a conversation. Still, it is daunting because there is no job description to which you can refer. To prepare, you should know that every question boils down to three primary themes: Why should we hire you? Why do you want to work here? And how will you fit in?

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

Also check out the resources on informational interviews posted recently on the GradPost.

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