Creating her own structures was the critical key to success in grad school for ecologist Sasha Wright. Memories—some of difficult episodes —came rushing back when Wright was formulating her advice. “What helped me to handle those struggles?,” she pondered.
Her three pieces of advice for thriving in grad school are:
- Invest in your grad school community
- Develop close academic relationships with at least three advisors
- Set short term goals and achieve meaningful benchmarks
Perfectionist gridlock is being stuck in place for fear of not doing something at the highest level of excellence. It plagues many grad students, perhaps especially those in the humanities. It is bred by the culture of academia, which places a high value on achievement and critique.
Perfectionist gridlock is particularly debilitating in dissertation writing and career decision making.
Traffic gridlock resolves itself slowly, inch by inch. Likewise, students can come unstuck by moving forward in baby steps.
Providing career counseling and career education for graduate students is an innovation of the last 20 years. Julie Vick Miller is one of the pioneers of the movement. After serving graduate students for three decades she has honed her advice.
Three things she advises graduate students, particularly those pursuing faculty careers:
- Develop your academic persona
- Take advantage of the resources at your university
- Learn how your university works
Should grad students compile their own CV of Failures and what should it include? That was my question when I read about Princeton professor Johannes Haushofer posting his CV of Failures (or Shadow CV).
YES! is my answer. Maybe I love this idea because my career has been littered with job loss, abandoned projects, disappointments, and tears. These days, I am helping teach workshops applying design thinking (“fail early and often”) to grad student’s lives and career planning.
“You need to assume that the demand for you will be less than you like and supply of people like you will be greater than you like. Act accordingly.”
That is the career preparation advice that Professor Rick Reis—known around the world as “Tomorrow’s Professor”—offers to grad students and postdocs.
Reis has a broad overview of graduate students’ professional development, particularly for academic careers. He has published the “Tomorrow’s Professor” e-newsletter for nearly 20 years. He has given a lot of thought to how grad students are prepared for faculty careers, and has a view of what is changing.
During our interview he broke down “Act Accordingly” into three specific pieces of advice:
- Start early and develop multiple options
- Think next stage
- Cultivate breadth-on-top-of-depth
Development as a teacher should be part of every doctoral student’s program and every graduate student should expect to become a proficient teacher. Doctoral students are usually obliged to focus on their research at the expense of broader career preparation. As a result, it is difficult for doctoral students to learn about the science of effective college teaching.
A newly released report, from a groundbreaking seven-year longitudinal research study, provides evidence of the value of teaching development (TD) for doctoral students. It provides ammunition for those (like me) who want to put teaching-preparation front and center in doctoral studies.
My three take-aways from the report are:
- Teaching Development (TD) is happening! It is widely used and widely available.
- It matters. TD has a positive impact on students’ teaching ability and confidence.
- It’s time to integrate TD into doctoral programs.