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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Summer 2015
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer
Shawn Warner-Garcia

Mon-Thu: 10 a.m.-noon

Writing Peer & Funding Peer
Kyle Crocco

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

Communications Peer
Melissa Rapp

Mon: 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
Wed: 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Diversity Peer
Charles Williams

By appointment

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 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.


Three Key Considerations in Getting Hired Outside of Academia

Take a moment and think about a group or organization that you’ve been a part of and cared about deeply. For instance, a project, team, or club. Then imagine that you are put in charge of recruiting and selecting new members to the group (or take yourself back to a time when you did just that). What are the key elements and attributes that you would be looking for?

Chances are, they would touch on three main criteria: potential to be a successful member, genuine interest in the focus of the organization, and ability to fit in with the group. It’s also likely that you’d be able to tell pretty quickly who the good candidates are – in essence, the ones who are prepared and engaged.   

For employers in the hiring process, the emphasis is much the same. Though there have been substantial changes taking place in the working world as of late – reflective largely of advances in technology, shifting cultural norms, and generally accepted protocols – these key areas stay largely unchanged in terms of their importance. Because employers are personally and professionally invested in their work and organization, they bring on people who are enthusiastic about the opportunity, fit valuably into their group, and have what it takes to do the job. It may seem somewhat simple and obvious, but by spending significant time considering these aspects and executing your job search accordingly, you will go a long way towards distinguishing yourself and getting hired. So let’s take a more in-depth look at each of these three key criteria in turn.

Source: Wakefield LibraryAbility to Succeed. It is important to employers that they gain a solid sense of your 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.” In hiring students out of graduate programs, they are not always just seeking candidates who have done the specific work before, but also those with education, experience, and personal skills and attributes that are transferable or foundational for the position. For example, consulting firms often prize graduate students for their strong research, analytical, and communication abilities.

To prepare for this aspect, start by doing as much research 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. And keep in mind that with most positions there are hard and soft skills that employers seek – hard skills being those most specific, technical, and intrinsic to the work and soft skills being more people-oriented, such as communication skills and ability to collaborate in teams.

Once you have narrowed down the most significant qualifications, 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 integrate them effectively into your resume/CV and cover letter, and start forming and rehearsing answers to potential questions from employers.

Interview questions such as “Take me through your resume” and “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?” as well as a number of behavioral and case questions, including “Tell me about a time when you coordinated a project from start to finish” and “Give me an example of a problem you solved using quantitative analysis,” are all attempts to gauge your ability to be successful in the work.

A common misperception among graduate students is that they are not prepared to pursue positions outside of academia. The reality is, many employers prize the skills, level of education, high-level experiences, and overall maturity of graduate students. The challenge, though, often lies in students being able to effectively convey their ability to succeed in the position, not to mention their interest in making the transition out of academia. Which brings us to the next key consideration.

Credit: OnInnovationInterest in the Position. This is a more subjective aspect but often no less important. Employers are going to potentially be making a significant investment in you in terms of training, salary, and benefits, so they need to get a sense of your passion and commitment to the work and organization. Especially with graduate students, they need to feel relatively secure that you won’t be out the door once an academic position or other opportunity is offered.

Conveying your interest goes beyond just making statements to the fact. It entails showing them, not just telling them. This starts at the very beginning of the hiring process. For instance, take the time and effort to put together a highly relevant and error-free resume/CV, cover letter, and other documents/correspondence, and show that you did your research and are serious about the opportunity. When you meet prospective employers at job fairs and other events, have an effective 30-second to one-minute “elevator pitch” ready, where you not only offer an overview of how you are prepared to succeed in the work, but also genuinely tell your story in terms of how this specific work and their unique organization fit into your career interests and aspirations.

In the interview you certainly want to convey your enthusiasm throughout. This doesn’t mean turning into a used car salesman or being someone you are not, but rather speaking to what actually excites you about their organization and what you would be doing in relation to what you’ve done and where you’re going. The interesting thing about hearing people talk about work they are truly passionate about is how often times it is almost boring in its detail. Bill Gates and Tiger Woods are examples that come to mind. There is no “sales” in them when they discuss technology and golf. It seems to be an extension of who they are. Not that this extent of focused passion is always easily accessed and available, but it does offer perhaps an ideal model for the job search.

Credit: Oglethorpe UniversityOrganizational “Fit.” The last key aspect for employers in the hiring process is whether you will be a good potential fit for their team. This is also more subjective, but you should focus on issues such as organizational culture, personality traits, attitude, and simply whether they like you.

This is the aspect that is hardest to prepare for, as there are often several intangible factors that are known only to the employer. For example, a candidate may be a perfect fit for a position in terms of what they’ve done, do a great job of interviewing and conveying their abilities and interest, but it turns out the employer already has someone just like them on the team in terms of personality. That is, for instance, on a team full of introverted technicians the team manager may be looking for a more outgoing person who could bring balance to the group and be more willing and able to lead internal and external presentations.

Though challenging, there are steps that you can take to prepare for this aspect. One is to dig for as much information as you can with regard to the culture of the organization and, ideally, the specific unit/team you would potentially be working in. The first part is relatively easy. Websites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Google are great places to find cultural insights on organizations, as well as potential leads to connecting with people within or at least working in the industry. Finding out about the smaller team is more challenging, both from the standpoint of finding contacts with inside information as well as running the risk of overstepping boundaries implied in the hiring process.

Another way is to simply accentuate the positive sides of your personality, attitude, and character as much as possible throughout the hiring process. Be professional, thoughtful, and engaging to everyone you meet. Be open to sharing interesting and appropriate aspects of your life, including outside interests, hobbies, and pursuits. Display an eagerness to learn and grow and a willingness to be flexible and take on new challenges. Speak in a positive way about previous supervisors and experiences. And follow up with correspondence thanking everyone you interacted with and reiterating your interest in the position and organization.

In preparing for getting hired outside of academia, start by delving into these three main aspects, formulating a targeted game plan, and going to work. Chances are, you’ll be well ahead of the majority of other candidates.

For assistance throughout the process, 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 of career and professional development issues for The GradPost.



Related GradPost articles

UCSB Career Services' New Assistant Director, John Coate, Will Focus on Graduate Student Services

UCSB Career Services Presents Career Series for Graduate Students

What Can UCSB Career Services Do for You?



Thinking of a Career Outside Academia? Visit These 10 Websites

Credit: HASTACWith the growing number of post-ac and alt-ac job-seekers, there are as many resources to help Ph.D.s make the transition to a career outside of academia. But how to wade through the abundance of information and advice (some good, some questionable)? Chris Humphrey of Jobs on Toast boils down his top 10 list of websites every PhD should visit.

Here are a few that made the list:

  1. PhDs At Work — Insight and Advice on Life Beyond Academia. Michelle Erickson takes the Ph.D. interview format to a whole new level with her 'week-in-the-life' approach. Ph.D.s working in corporate and non-profit sectors give accounts of what they do in their day jobs, showing how skills learned in the PhD are put to use outside of academia.
  2. The Versatile PhD. VPhD is already well-known for its discussion forums, job postings, and local area meet-ups. The site also has a Premium area where you can find 80 personal profiles written by humanities and social science Ph.D.s who were hired straight out of academia. Not only that, you can read some of the actual résumés and cover letters they used to get their post-ac jobs!
  3. What Are All The PhDs? Sharing the Career Path of All PhDs. People with Ph.D.s can submit a career profile to this Tumblr site founded by Nathan Vanderford. Since the contributors sprinkle their profiles with links, you can also get access to the "world of work" beyond the individual, which is especially helpful for learning more about particular career paths out of academia.

To read the complete list, and to see more advice from Chris on non-academic careers, click here.


Versatile PhD Online Panel Discussion Nov. 17-21: 'Careers in Government Research' (STEM Fields)

Are you a STEM graduate student or postdoc interested in a career in government research? Versatile Ph.D. will be hosting a free web-based asynchronous panel discussion on Careers in Government Research from November 17-21. All panelists are Ph.D.s or ABDs in STEM fields, working in agencies such as NASA, EPA, US Air Force, US Geological Survey, California Department of Water and Resources, and Health Canada.

You can interact with 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 the panel, click here.


How to Find a Job While ABD

Credit: MarkuntiThere has been much debate about whether one should or shouldn't enter the academic job market without a (nearly) completed dissertation in hand. For some graduate students, it might be too risky or even detrimental to send out job applications before completing a substantial portion of their dissertation and setting a defense date. For others, they can't afford the luxury of waiting to go on the job market for financial, motivational, or personal reasons.

For those graduate students that do decide to enter the job market while ABD (all but dissertation), Melissa Dennihy gives some great advice on "how to juggle the demands of grad student life and job-searching while maximizing your chances at job market success." Some highlights from her list of tips include:

  • Make the most of spare moments.
  • Have one solid dissertation chapter completed.
  • Make job materials serve your dissertation-writing.
  • Build a strong teaching portfolio.
  • Think of yourself as a colleague, not a student.
  • Don’t overlook teaching-oriented institutions and community college positions.

Click here to read more tips about going on the job market while ABD.


Vitae Issues Free Electronic Booklet on Academic Career Development

Vitae, the fast-growing community for higher education, has issued a free electronic version of their valuable guide for graduate students and young scholars that covers a variety of topics related to academic career development, including mentoring, dissertation writing, and social issues related to a career in higher education. The booklet represents a small portion of ongoing news and advice services that Vitae offers on their website. Additionally, Vitae has a large database of academic jobs, a free dossier service that lets scholars manage their professional documents, and a network that helps those scholars connect with colleagues, mentors, and collaborators.

To download the free booklet, click here.

Join Vitae and check out all their website has to offer.


Dissertation Writer's Room Reopens for the Fall Quarter

Credit: Kyle Crocco, Funding PeerStarting Tuesday, October 14, the Graduate Division's Dissertation Writer's Room will reopen for the fall quarter. While it began this summer as a quiet workspace for students writing dissertations, we're inviting all of UCSB's graduate students to make use of it. 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 write alongside your fellow graduate students in the Dissertation Writer's Room.

Where? Student Resource Building, Room 1103

When? Tuesdays and Thursdays: 1 to 4 p.m.

Wednesdays: 9 a.m. to noon

The Graduate Division’s Dissertation Writer’s Room comfortably seats 18 writers and includes amenities such as ergonomic furniture, plenty of electrical outlets, coffee, tea, water, snacks, and wireless. One of the Graduate Division Peers will host the room and help everyone stay on course. Peers will also be available to discuss writing problems or provide encouragement or support as needed.

New this fall: An evening writing session!

In partnership with UCSB Campus Learning Assistance Services (CLAS), we are delighted to announce additional writing hours on Thursdays from 6 to 10 p.m. Jay Stemmle of CLAS will facilitate this session and provide feedback (if needed) on writing and the writing process. Writers will meet in the CLAS Writing Lab, Room 3231 of the Student Resource Building.

The Dissertation Writer’s Room is a part of the Graduate Division’s efforts to help graduate students progress to the successful completion of their degrees. If you have any questions about this service, or suggestions for other career resources, please email Robert Hamm.

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