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Entries in career (33)


Networking: Or, How Karaoke Can Lead to a Career

"At a karaoke party on the final night of a marine-sciences conference in 2011, graduate student David Shiffman signed up to sing a song that another attendee had also requested. The event director asked the two to do a duet, and they agreed. Shiffman has since forgotten the tune – 'Take on Me' by A-ha or 'I Will Survive' by Gloria Gaynor, perhaps. But the two had a blast, and when they chatted afterwards, Shiffman learned that his singing partner was Chris Parsons, then-president of the marine section of the Society for Conservation Biology in Washington, DC."

Credit: NaturejobsIn a recent Naturejobs article on conference networking, Emily Sohn describes how this experience led to many more professional doors being opened for Shiffman in his career as an ecologist. But even if the conferences you go to don't feature karaoke nights (relatedly, who can I talk to to make this a staple of every academic gathering?), it remains a fact that most people – and especially young scholars – put more thought into planning which sessions they will attend rather than planning which senior scholars they want to connect with in between those sessions. In her article, Sohn gives advice on how to be courageous yet courteous, how to not tweet like a twit, and overcoming senior scholar starstruck syndrome.

But conferences aren't the only place that crucial career contacts are forged. In another Naturejobs article, Julie Gould points out the many ways in which professional societies can hold the key to better networking and career advancement. By becoming an engaged member in a professional society, you gain access to prominent scholars, leadership opportunities, and insider knowledge on your field.

To read Sohn's full article on conference networking, click here. To read Gould's full article on how to make the most of professional societies, click here.

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


What to Do When Hard Work Isn't Enough

Statue of Cain, by Henri VidalWhy do bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people?

This age-old question could also be applied to the job market. As Josh Boldt writes in a recent article on Vitae, "Why are some people rewarded for sacrifice and others exploited for it? Why does one Ph.D. land a tenure-track position while another is relegated to a lifetime of adjunct pay?"

While Boldt eschews the idea that all success is entirely attributable to one's personal effort, he offers three pieces of advice that he learned through one failed job search cycle and a subsequent successful job search cycle.

  1. Know the power of a well crafted CV/resume and cover letter. The more interesting and tailored your CV/resume and cover letter are, the better. Use your application materials to show your personality and use targeted language pulled directly from the job ad you are applying to.
  2. Effectively manage the value of your labor. As Boldt puts it, "You don’t want to allow yourself to be exploited but you also don’t want to appear to be an inflexible and egotistical ass. You have to learn when it’s OK to give your labor freely (or cheaply) and when you must stand up for yourself and negotiate a better deal." However, even if do decide that give your labor away freely gives you a competitive advantage, don't completely give away your leverage. Negotiate the terms of your free/cheap labor by asking for something in return (such as a contract with clear terms or a promise of future paid work).
  3. Focus on building strategic relationships. Yup, this means networking. Even if you are introvert, make a point to go to events and meetups to make strategic connections with people in your field(s) of choice. Otherwise, when it comes time to go on the job market, you're the only one that can really vouch for yourself and your experience. It's a lot easier when that labor can be distributed among a network of people who know you and your work.

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.


Get to Know Your New Graduate Student Career Counselor

Lana Smith-HaleThere is a new face at the Graduate Student Resource Center these days. Lana Smith-Hale joins us as Career Services’ new Graduate Career Consultant. She will be dedicated to helping graduate students prepare for non-academic careers. From her office in the GSRC (located in the Student Resource Building Room 1215), Lana offers drop-in and appointment counseling exclusively for graduate students. She also helps develop targeted career programming and serves as a point-person and liaison for graduate career needs.

Lana has nine years of counseling experience and has spent the last year as Director of Compassionate Counseling at UCSB’s Hosford Clinic. Lana received her master's degree from the University of Southern California and her bachelor's degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Lana said that she is excited about working with graduate students “because they are a driven, successful, and committed bunch of students. Graduate school offers twists and turns for many students and helping them navigate their evolution in the program and in career goals is exciting to me.” She went on to say, “I think most graduate students feel that making the decision to go to grad school was ‘the big career decision’ and that the career path from there is all downhill. But grad school doesn’t always set up a clear path and more often than not, there are more questions raised and bigger career decisions ahead once grad school gets underway.”

Lana is available to discuss anything career-related with graduate students, including career exploration, the job search process, CV/resume help, interviewing, and negotiation strategies. And since she is located in the GSRC, she said that she hopes the office can become a one-stop shop for graduate student support. Oh, and did we mention that she is a huge chocolate fanatic? So you know that she will likely always have an epic snack supply on hand.

How to get in touch with Lana:

By e-mail:
By phone
: 805-893-4649
In person
: SRB Room 1215
Drop-in hours

  • Tuesdays 10 a.m.-noon, 2-3 p.m.
  • Wednesdays 9 a.m.-noon
  • Thursdays 1-4 p.m.

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.


Beyond Academia Conference Offers Resource Page for Non-Academic Careers

Following the success of the inaugural Beyond Academia conference at UCSB on May 15, organizers have compiled an extensive and handy list of career resources for those interested in finding out more about non-academic careers. Whether you are just starting to explore options or you are on the job market and wanting to develop skills like networking and negotiating, this resource page is a valuable tool for graduate students and postdocs alike. You'll find information about campus programs, online communities, and blogs dedicated to helping Ph.D.s find work outside of academia.

Check out the resource page here!


Versatile Ph.D. Hosts Online Panel Discussion June 8-12: 'Careers in Marketing for STEM Ph.D.s'

Versatile Ph.D. will host a free web-based asynchronous panel discussion on "Careers in Marketing for STEM Ph.D.s" beginning June 8. All panelists are Ph.D.s from STEM fields, including:

  • a Market Insight Manager at a health insurance company
  • a Marketing Development Manager at Eastman Kodak
  • a Data Scientist at a marketing agency
  • an Associate Medical Director at a pharmaceutical marketing agency
  • a Senior Manager at a global research company who has a great deal of marketing responsibility

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. As a UCSB graduate student, you have free access to the information and resources on the Versatile Ph.D. website. To learn more about accessing its premium content, such as the panel discussions, follow these simple instructions provided by the Graduate Division.


For Your Non-Academic Career, Do You Know Your Holland Code?

Are you considering a career outside of academia, but are not sure what jobs you are suited for? Then you might want to figure out your Holland Code, a three letter code based on six RIASEC categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional.

For example, you might be an easygoing ARS (Artistic, Realistic, Social) or maybe cold as ICE (Investigative, Conventional, Enterprising). You can see what each category means in the chart (below).

The assessment, also known as the Strong Interest Inventory or Holland Occupational Themes, shows your personality type and can help your define your career choices outside of academia.

To figure out your Holland Code, you can take the Strong Interest Inventory assessment offered by Career Services. It takes about 30 minutes to do online and costs only $20 for UCSB students, which includes a counseling session to interpret your results. For a free assessment, try this test online here.

To get an idea of careers based on a single individual code, check out this list from Career Services.

Holland Codes and their meanings. Image courtesy of Career Services


Mastering the Elevator Speech

Credit: Marco WesselThe term “elevator speech,” one of the biggest buzzwords in career development these days, supposedly originated in a book by an English quality management expert in the early 1980’s called “The Art of Getting Your Own Sweet Way.” It refers to a pre-prepared, comprehensive set of ideas presented to an influential person in the time span of a standard elevator ride, that ideally produces some sort of positive action.

Though often used in the context of promoting business ideas (think reality TV show “Shark Tank”), with the high level of competitiveness in the job market in recent years and the subsequent emphasis on the power of networking, the term has found its way into the vocabulary of career development. In this case, individuals are not pitching a product or idea, but themselves. That is, within a short period of time, summarizing who they are and what they are looking for, as well as what they have to offer and why they are a good fit for the person they are in the “elevator” with.

It can be a tall order, including knowing what to say, when to say it, and for how long. But given the proven effectiveness of networking, with estimates that over 80% of jobs are gotten either directly or indirectly through connections, the “elevator speech” has become a key element of the process, and thus important to the repertoire of graduate students, whether exploring, pursuing, or enhancing their academic or non-academic careers.

Here is some guidance for your elevator speech:

What to say. There is no exact way to create an elevator pitch, and it certainly should vary depending on the context in which you employ it, but there are important main elements. The three key aspects in the employment search process are:

  1. Area of interest
  2. Ability to succeed in this area (education, experience, skills, strengths)
  3. “Fit” for targeted employers

Your speech, then, should ideally touch on these three areas in a way that is personally unique and differentiating. For example:

I’m completing the last year of my Ph.D. program in Developmental Psychology at UCSB. In addition to my research on increasing cultural diversity in after-school programs, I’ve spent the past two years working as a Program Evaluator for the A.S. Education Group in Santa Barbara, analyzing content, programming and accessibility of after-school programs. And during my masters program I was a Project Coordinator for Project Help in Los Angeles, overseeing the development of school-based programming for urban adolescents. I came to UCSB thinking that I wanted to pursue a career in academia, but after getting this great experience and discovering a kind of unique ability to integrate complex theories with front-line needs, I have decided that my interests and skill-set are a much better fit for leading programs. I’m excited to get to talk to you, as I’ve followed your program the past few years and feel that the work you do with adolescent education and development is very much in line with my strengths and career aspirations.

Credit: Hirotomo TLength. Thirty to 60 seconds, depending on circumstance.

Where to use. The elevator speech is utilized at a variety of networking, job search, and professional development events and opportunities, both in person and online. For instance:

  • Formal networking functions and events
  • Other professional development-oriented functions and events
  • Career fairs and employer information sessions
  • Informational interviews
  • “Professional” social media and other online correspondence
  • Casual encounters (sometimes even on elevators)
  • In the interview, answering the questions “tell me about yourself” and “why are you interested in this position?  (Note: answers in this context will normally be longer than 30-60 seconds).

When to employ. There is no simple strategy in regards to the appropriate time to whip out your elevator speech. The phrase “you’ll know it when you see it” comes to mind as sound advice. In more formal job search- and networking-oriented settings, it is generally expected that attendees will be assertive in selling themselves and are indeed often prompted to do so with a statement like, “Tell me about yourself” or the question, “What are you looking for?”

In other circumstances, the prompts are not so clear. The best guidance in these situations includes:

  • First ask questions and genuinely listen to the person you are talking to, ideally focusing on professional or career related topics.
  • Look for an appropriate time to share.
  • Don’t just jump into your elevator speech if not prompted.
  • It may be more effective to integrate the elements of your speech into a longer conversation.

Other Tips.

  • Prepare! Write, edit, practice, and get feedback.
  • Convey your uniqueness – what differentiates you, causes you to stand out.
  • Share what you’re passionate about and looking forward to doing.
  • Make it sound human and real, and don’t be afraid to smile.
  • Prepare a few variations for different circumstances.
  • Don’t brag! There’s a difference between emphasizing your accomplishments and attributes and bragging about them.

For more information about networking strategies, check out the slides from John Coate's March 4 networking workshop. 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 on career and professional development issues for The GradPost.


The Trials and Tribulations of the Campus Visit

If you're on the job market this season, then the time is getting ripe (or already has gotten ripe) to start fielding invitations for campus visits. The advice for campus visits currently available online suggests that the experience of a campus visit is something akin to sprinting a marathon: an exhilarating, but exhausting event. 

While there is a great deal of practical advice for campus visitees out there, a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed is particularly effective in tackling the 7 Hazards of the Campus Visit. Nancy Scott Hanway, the author of the piece, addresses the legitimate concerns of many graduate students, including being asked inappropriate questions, handling odd or random comments, and being offered alcohol. Hanway also provides a short quiz at the end of the article, which lets you put her advice into action. It's worth a read if you are gearing up for campus visits.


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.