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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Summer 2014
(Email for availability)

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia

Diversity & Outreach Peer:
Hala Sun

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre

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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Alternative PhD Careers Group on LinkedIn

We've talked before on the GradPost about using LinkedIn as a way to build your digital reputation, network, and search for jobs. Another great advantage to this professional social network is the plethora of groups focused on different career topics. Today, I came across Alternative PhD Careers, a LinkedIn group with nearly 7,000 members dedicated to exploring careers outside academia with a particular focus on the sciences. The discussion forums are very robust with thoughtful, informative answers from both professionals and current grad students.

While you're at it, browse the Groups directory at LinkedIn to find more discussion groups related to your industry or career paths in which you are interested. These groups are a great way to turn LinkedIn from a passive activity to a proactive job searching tool. You never know what connections you might make!


Why Women Leave Academia

Woman ProfessorSource: MicrosoftIn a sobering recount of a study about women's retention in a chemistry Ph.D. program, Curt Rice describes the many unappealing aspects of pursuing a position in academia after graduating (i.e., moving for multiple postdocs, lack of support, ongoing process of finding funding, lack of security in employment, sacrificing time spent with family) (See Why Women Leave Academia and Why Universities Should Be Worried). While both men and women face many of these challenges, women face the additional obstacle of not being competitive enough because of their gender.

In the study, The chemistry PhD: the impact on women's retention, the researchers found that 72 percent of first year female students in the Ph.D. program reported an interest in pursuing a career as a researcher (industry or academia). However, by the third year of the program, only 12 percent of the women were still interested in pursuing a career in academia. Looking at the statistic in another way, 88 percent of the female students in the Ph.D. program did not want to pursue a faculty position.

What are your thoughts about this study? Are you still interested in pursuing a career in academia? What obstacles have influenced your decision about your career path? Share your thoughts in the comments section.


Common Job Interview Bloopers to Avoid

HandshakeSource: Microsoft/FotoliaThere are many ways to sidestep questions, answer the questions you want to answer, or please everyone in a job interview. But do these tricks really work?

Not according to Robert J. Sternberg, the Provost and Senior Vice President at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Sternberg's article in the Chronicle of Higher Education features the top 12 job interview bloopers that he has witnessed and he recommends avoiding these situations at all costs. Don't let these bloopers ruin your next job interview—make sure to read the full article: 12 Bloopers to Avoid in Job Interviews.


Using Body Language to Your Advantage During a Job Interview

Body language guideJob interviews are often stressful experiences in which you must demonstrate your competence, communicate in a professional manner, think on your feet, and weave together a narrative of your work and extracurricular activities in order to prove why you are the best person for the position.

One way to stand out from the competition is to use body language to your advantage. Body language reflects what you are really thinking (subconsciously or consciously). It can often be used against you if you are unaware that you are using your body in an unprofessional or threatening manner (i.e., power posing, leaning back in a chair or slouching, not maintaining eye contact, keeping your hands in your pockets). Check out the PR Daily's article: "How to Speak Body Language During an Interview" to learn how you can use your body language in a professional manner. The article recommends using a mirror to check out your body language and to practice often in order to reinforce your professional presence through muscle memory.

Here are some additional sources to help you learn more about body language:


How Career Assessment Tools Can Steer You on the Right Career Path

When I was a child, I had two goals: Become an astronaut and own an ice cream shop. Making a career decision was simple - all I had to do was answer the question, “What do I like?” Since I liked stargazing, my career trajectory pointed toward NASA. Of course, I also liked sweets, so I had the fallback option of running a small ice cream business.

If only finding a career was so simple now. According to the LifeHacker article, "How to Pick a Career You Actually Like," Economist Neil Howe claims that "only 5% of people pick the right job on the first try."

As I make my way through graduate school, I still struggle with determining which career path to follow (Academia? Student Affairs? Instructional Design? Administration?). There are many factors to take into consideration when searching for a career: interests, skills, working style and environment, values, personality, strengths, and location. How do I determine which of these factors is the most valuable?

Career assessment resultsLuckily, I was given the opportunity to explore some of the career assessments offered by Career Services. I signed up for the Classic Assessment Package, which included four assessments and quality time with Molly Steen, Acting Associate Director and Grad Student Career Counselor, as she helped me interpret my results.

I started by taking two of the assessments: Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and Strong Interest Inventory (SII). Both assessments were online and I completed them at home. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator featured about 90 questions that mainly focused on how I would describe myself (i.e., Are you warm-hearted or strong-headed?). It took about 10 minutes to finish. Next, I turned my attention to the Strong Interest Inventory. The Inventory was a bit more extensive (close to 300 questions) and the questions focused on the types of jobs, subjects, people, and activities that I found interesting. This assessment took about 25 minutes to complete.

The next step was to attend group sessions with a counselor who would interpret my results. Since it was early in the quarter, the group sessions turned out to be one-on-one sessions with Steen. In these sessions, I learned more about each of the assessments and how to use the results to focus my career path.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

The MBTI is used to assess your personality. Based on your responses, you are given a four-letter personality type (i.e., ESTJ, INTP, ESFP). The letters represent:

  • How you get your energy - Extroversion (E) or Introversion (I)
  • How you gather information - Sensing (S) or Intuition (N)
  • How you make decisions - Thinking (T) or Feeling (F)
  • How you deal with the outer world - Judging (J) or Perceiving (P)

At the group session, I received a printout of my MBTI results, which included my personality type, descriptions of some common interests and values for my personality type, a list of potential strengths and weaknesses, what qualities I should look for in a career, and some possible career choices. The results will be of great use at my next job interview when I am asked: “What is your greatest strength or weakness?”

Strong Interest Inventory printoutStrong Interest Inventory

The Strong Interest Inventory (SII) is a research-validated assessment that provides a list of recommended careers based on your interests. At the SII group session, I learned about Holland’s Hexagon and the six occupational themes (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional). The SII results showed how strongly I fit into each of the themes. The results packet also included my top five career interest areas, career fit scores based on each theme, occupational scales (whether I share interests with women who currently enjoy working in the selected occupation), personality style scales, and my top 10 strong occupations.


After reviewing the MBTI and SII results, I was sent home with another online assessment to complete (SkillScan). As you have probably already figured out from the name, the SkillScan assessed my skills in relation to six categories (management/leadership, communication, creativity, analytical, relationship, and physical/technical). After completing the SkillScan, I was given a lengthy PDF report that featured my top skill sets, a skill roadmap, a list of careers based on each skill set, and a list of careers to stay away from based on skills I was not interested in using/improving.


My next task was to look over the results of all three assessments and find three career paths that I wanted to learn more about. I researched these paths on O*NET, which is a great career exploration tool. O*NET allows you to look up specific careers to learn more about the tasks, knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to work in that career. Each career page also lists common work activities and the personal interests, values, and styles that fit well in this career.

Values Card Sort

I attended my final one-hour meeting with Steen to discuss the three careers that I researched. At this meeting, I had one final assessment to complete (card sort). In this assessment, I organized 90 values cards based on “must have,” “would like to have,” “avoid” and “not important” for my future career. I then had to narrow my choices down to six cards for each category. My final task was to write out the “must haves,” “would like to haves,” and “avoid” values on a worksheet. I then selected a career path that I had researched (faculty position in Education) and ranked how well my values fit with that position (luckily, I’m on the right path).

Career assessment resultsFinal Thoughts

The Career Assessment Classic Package has been an invaluable process that has allowed me to reflect on who I am, what I like, and where I am headed. I wish I could say I left the final meeting with a set career in mind, but I did not. However, the assessments have provided me with a collection of tools to use when selecting a career and it is up to me to figure out how to best use these tools to find a satisfying career path.

Studies predict that my generation (GenMe/GenY) and younger will change jobs more frequently than older generations. Having a comprehensive understanding of my personal values, skills, interests, and personality type will allow me to confidently seek out jobs that I will enjoy.

If you are interested in learning more about the Career Services Assessments, visit:

The process is different for everyone. I found that my skills and values were more indicative of my career path than my personality and interests. You may discover that your interests are the driving force behind your career choices. The benefit of doing a full assessment package is that you are given multiple tools to use to determine your career path.


Academic Job Interviews in the Humanities: Tips from Deans and Chairs

Credit: PhD ComicsEarlier this month, the Graduate Division hosted a panel discussion about the academic job interview process in the humanities. Panelists were David Marshall, Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, John Majewski, Associate Dean of Humanities and Fine Arts, Cristina Venegas, chair of Film and Media Studies, and Carol Genetti, Acting Dean of the Graduate Division. Though the discussion was aimed at humanities students, much of the advice holds true for other disciplines as well. Here are some of their suggestions for the whole job search process.


  • Departments are looking for someone who fits with the advertised position, so make it clear in your letter how you fit what they are looking for
    • Note: departments are not always sure what they want until they see the applicant pool, so don’t be afraid to apply for jobs that are more of a stretch
  • Departments are hiring a colleague for the long-term and want someone who can contribute to the team in all professional aspects—throughout the process, show how you can contribute
  • Don’t forget you are also interviewing them—is this somewhere you want to work for the rest of your career?
  • Be responsive to emails and other communication—opinions about candidates are formed through all interactions, not just the interviews
  • Be sure to present a clear vision of where you see yourself going in your career—think beyond your dissertation, show that you are looking forward, not backward

Cover Letters

  • Tailor letters to individual job postings
  • Letters should reveal who you are and describe your work in a clear, efficient, and sincere way
  • Relate your teaching experience and address the course or types of courses you are able to teach

First Round Interviews

  • Skype interviews are on the rise for first round interviews
    • Keep in mind your backdrop, attire, and potential background noise—send a professional image
    • Look at the camera as if you were making eye contact
    • Be mindful of the length of your answers
  • Have some course ideas ready, both undergraduate and graduate
  • Read through faculty profiles beforehand and have ideas about how you will work with others in the department and how your work intersects
  • Also look beyond the department and be prepared to talk about interdisciplinary work with other departments or centers on the campus
  • Don’t be afraid to guide the interview and move the conversation along

Campus Visits

  • Campus visits are extremely busy—make sure you know the schedule and understand when and where you need to be for different activities
  • Ask questions about the job talk including who might be in the audience, the equipment, the set-up, the length, etc.
  • Think very carefully about the job talk—it should demonstrate the core of what you’re bringing to the field
  • Practice your job talk including the Q&A section
  • Don’t just read your talk—being able to give the talk with minimal notes shows confidence
  • Practice the potential tough questions—you will get them, some may even be hostile. Don’t bluff something you truly don’t know!
  • If possible, give a nod to people in the audience (eg. “As Dr. So-and-so noted in…”)
  • If you forget to address something in the talk, bring it up in a later discussion
  • Remember every moment of the visit is an interview, even the dinners and other more social events
  • Be sure to get a sense of the department and campus culture—what would it be like to have these people as colleagues?
  • Don’t forget about the grad students—if given the opportunity, ask them about their work and the culture
  • Think about other experiences you can talk about to how your professionalism, like planning a conference, advising/mentoring students, committee participation, etc.

Job Offers

  • Consider: Is this the job you want? How much do you want it?
  • With multiple campus interviews, carefully weigh the in-hand offer versus those that are still pending
  • Remember to keep the negotiation an open, professional exchange of information
  • Know what you need and what is reasonable and don’t be afraid to ask for it
  • Think about what stands between you and the job and be honest about those needs
  • Things to consider: spousal hire, relocation expenses, special research equipment, summer support, teaching load

For more on the academic job search, check out the GradPost’s Best of the Academic Job Search post.


Fix Up Your CV With Help From the CV Doctor

CV screenshotThe Chronicle of Higher Education's CV Doctor is a good resource for viewing real life critiques of CVs. You will learn about common mistakes, formatting rules, and ways to make your CV stand out to employers. You can view the before and after examples of the same CV to see what improvements were made. It is especially helpful to visit the before versions of each the CV to view the comments from the CV doctor. Here are some examples:


STEM Diversity Career Expo

Interested in a career in science, technology, engineering, or math? Meet with recruiters from NASA, The Boeing Company, Aerospace Corporation, Intel, Raytheon, and more at the STEM Diversity Career Expo. The expo will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Los Angeles Convention Center. To pre-register for the event, visit Don't forget to bring your resume!

STEM Career Expo flier


Acing Your Phone Interview

Man on phonePhone interviews are commonly used in both academic and non-academic job hunts. If you are searching for a faculty position, some universities will schedule a phone interview before determining whether to bring you to campus for a visit.

In the Lifehacker article, "Got a Phone Interview? Make it Awesome, Not Awkward," Molly Ford highlights tips for successfully making it through a phone interview. With a phone interview, you have the advantage of using notes. However, you are at a disadvantage because you can't read your interviewer's body language or facial expressions and you may not know when to stop or start talking which could result in awkward silences. Browse through Ford's article to learn how you can ace your next phone interview.


CV Writing Tips 

UCSB Career Services logoWriting a CV can be confusing, time-consuming, and when you think you finally have it right, you learn something new that leads to another hour of edits.

I recently attended a CV/Resume Writing Workshop hosted by Molly Steen, the Acting Associate Director of Career Services. Molly shared a lot of helpful tips and spent ample time answering student questions. Here are a few tips that I learned from the workshop:


  • Select one font for the text (and maybe one additional font for your name at the top).
  • Dates of service are the least useful pieces of information (although important) on a CV, so move those to the right side of the page to focus the reader's attention on more significant text, such as the title of the job.
  • Use bold, italics, or both to make things stand out (i.e., job titles). This can be heavily dependent on the job you are looking for. If you are applying to a job in San Diego and you previously worked or attended school in San Diego, then it might be useful to bold that text just for that one CV.


  • Show that you have read the job description and you know what the position requires by ordering your CV effectively. If you are applying to a Research I University, then the first section after Education should be focused on research. If you are applying to a Teaching University, start with your teaching experience.


  • While the rule of thumb for a resume is one page for every 10 years of work, with your newly minted (or soon-to-be) graduate degree you can go up to three to five pages for a CV. Even though you have more space, don't include every last detail of your life. Only include experiences and details that highlight your qualifications for the position to which you are applying.

UCSB Career Services Bulletin BoardCV Writing Help

Career Services provides drop-in hours and individual appointments to help you improve your CV. Take advantage of this free service while you are a student.

Drop-In Hours (All Students)

Monday to Friday: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Graduate Student Drop-In Hours

Tuesdays: 1 to 2 p.m.

Fridays: 11 a.m. to noon

Individual Appointments

You can also set up an individual appointment with a Career Counselor to go over your CV. More information can be found on the Career Services website.

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