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Graduate School


Professional Development Listserv Archives

Our Professional Development Listserv gives graduate students a range of professional development information. Topics include applying for jobs in a range of fields, resumes and curricula vitae, leadership, professional networking, teaching, communication, etc.

Job Search

Reading Your Application File - August 23, 2017

The article below describes the point of view of a search committee member for an academic position that focuses on research in the sciences. While the specific pieces of advice (e.g., grant funding) may not be applicable to all fields, there  is one piece of information that is helpful for everyone applying for any type of job. Specifically, there tend to be a lot of applicants for most positions, and your materials matter in terms of helping you rise to the top of the pool. Make them clear and make them interesting. Have other people review them for you before you send them out.

How to  Style your Skype Interview -  April 27, 2016
Skype interviews are becoming increasingly common in the job search process, whether you are seeing jobs in business, industry, academic, nonprofit, etc.  This article does a good job of pointing out things you should do to present yourself professionally in a Skype interview (read the comments too).

Tips on Seeking Federal Government Jobs -  August 11, 2015
This interview provides very helpful advice for students seeking employment in the federal government, and more generally, in settings other than academia.

The Federal Option

Employment Options For Graduate Degree Earners: Transferable Skills - July 20, 2015
A multi-part column on transferable skills that graduate students have. If you are thinking about employment in business, industry, non-profit or government settings, identifying the skill set you have to offer is a crucial first step.

Part 1:
Part 2:

Networking for Careers Outside Academia - October 29, 2014
Information regarding ways  you can network if you are interested in careers outside of academia, as well as the reasons you definitely should network.

Overview on Careers Outside Academia - April 16, 2014

This website does a great job outlining things that are relevant to PhD's who would like to find positions outside academia. There is a chart demonstrating how to translate the activities you do during your graduate program into skills relevant in numerous employment sectors. They give examples of settings Ph.D.'s holders in different areas may work. They link to other resources. And last but not least, they discuss the importance of taking advantage of personal and professional development opportunities that appear during graduate school.

Seeking Employment Outside Academia:  Advice for PhD's - January 15, 2014

The majority of the doctoral students who I have spoken with in the last year have indicated that they are interested in a range of different career options. This pattern at NDSU mirrors national trends. Students also indicate that it can be difficult to find information about how to proceed with obtaining jobs in areas outside of academia.  This Chronicle of Higher Education article does a nice job of summarizing key actions to take and points to consider.  One central take away message from this article is that you should begin to explore your options as early as possible during your graduate career, and consider obtaining internship or volunteer experience.

Finding a Job: Careers with Social Impact
There are many job hunting search engines available. The search engine below focuses on opportunities that have a social impact. The opportunities that they list are all over the world . You can specify that you want to only see degrees that require a graduate degree. I ran a search for jobs that require a PhD and found a range in business, government, education, etc. that seemed to cut across a diverse array of fields. 

There are also links to find volunteer activities and internships. Volunteering and internships can be a great way to build additional skills, make connections, and be able to show related experience on your resume.

Non-Faculty Careers in Higher Ed
This Chronicle article discusses efforts by individuals at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill to create structure for employees who hold a PhD but are employed in non faculty roles—usually administrative roles. The article does a nice job highlighting some of the potential employment options, as well as pointing out the challenges that such employees might encounter. I thought it might be of interest to people who would be interested in working at a university in a non-faculty position.

Writing Cover Letters for Academic Jobs - November 14, 2013
This column has excellent advice on writing the cover letter for academic job applications. There are also useful tidbits in the comments. As the column author points out, it is also important to identify discipline-specific norms so talk to your adviser and other faculty members.

Minding Your Digital Footprint-Advice for Job Seekers-October 30, 2013

This Chronicle blog discusses the importance of being aware of what is on the internet about you. I have recently heard from several sources that prospective employers are doing Google searches on candidates, looking and Facebook and other social media, etc. You might want to google search yourself in a couple of different ways (e.g., with and without your middle initial or name; with and without "" around your name, etc), just to see what might come up.

Power Thoughts Prior to an Interview? - October 7, 2013
Many people find interviewing for jobs, fellowships, etc. to be a rather intimidating experience. We go into them hoping for a successful outcome, but are often unsure about whether that will be the case. Usually, other people will also be interviewed for the same thing we want to obtain, and we wonder how we can set ourselves apart. The article that I'm providing a link to discusses some interesting research that just might help you be more successful. Specifically, it appears that thinking of a time when you felt powerful might help you come across as more self-confident in your interactions. As you are journeying through graduate school, it might be useful to start a list of these "power times"--maybe when you were especially successful on an exam or assignment, or when you were discussing a thorny issue in your field in a particularly compelling way—or even when you submit your disquisition for the final time! Keeping a list like this will mean you have to rely less on memory when the time to interview arrives, and can give yourself a quick boost when you need it.

The Geography of Hiring in Alternate STEM Careers - September 10, 2013
The article below talks about the geographical considerations related to obtaining PhD level nonacademic jobs in STEM fields. There are several interesting charts that show the numbers of PhD's in different fields who are employed in each state. These may be useful as you consider the best odds for obtaining employment. However, as one commenter notes—the charts do not tell the whole story. Just because there are fewer Ph.D.s in an area does not mean there aren't any. It might mean, however, that a person who wants to live in a particular part of the country may have to be more creative in tracking down job opportunities.

Teaching Advice/Techniques

Teaching Tip--Have Your Students Write - July 2, 2014
Here is a simple idea to help make your teaching a bit more effective. The author's point about a quiet time to write at the beginning of the class giving space for students to really be present in the class is particularly interesting. Think about your own experiences as a student—how often do you sit down in a classroom still thinking about something unrelated to the topic of the day.  

 The Obvious Benefits of In-Class Writing Assignments

Books to Help Improve College Teaching - June 16, 2014
For those of you currently have or will have college teaching as one of your responsibilities, there are a lot of resources out there to help you make your teaching effective. This article summarizes a list of books the author has encountered. Overall, it looks like an excellent list. Take advantage of the summer to delve into at least one of the books on this list. Remember—you can utilize the library's interlibrary loan service for any that our library does not own. 

Top 10 Books on Teaching

Links Between Classroom Teaching and Student Learning - November 25, 2013
This article discusses some interesting research on links between aspects of teaching and student learning outcomes. In particular, the instructor's clarity and organization matter. As the article notes, these are both elements of teaching that reflection and feedback from others can help a person improve.

Teaching Clearly Can Be a Deceptively Simple Way to Improve Learning

Communication - Writing and Public Speaking

Writing Successful Grant Proposals - August 9, 2017
This article has some really helpful advice about writing successful grant proposals, and notes some resources that you might make use of. Grant writing experience can help set job applicants apart from others. Additionally, depending on your field, success in grant applications can be key to your career success. 

Speaking Professionally--Challenging One's Verbal Habits - July 8, 2014
Links to three resources that highlight challenges people may have in speaking professionally. Each article has slightly different suggestions for how to combat the types of speech patterns mentioned. Ensuring that you speak professionally is important both for securing a job and for being perceived as competent while employed. It is very distracting during an interview when a candidate uses words such as "like" "um" "you know" in every sentence. How one speaks sends subtle messages about one's confidence.  Unfortunately, many of us have verbal habits that are not suited the professional realm. Eradicating them takes time, which is why it is important to begin now.

Speak Like a Pro: The Trick to Terrific Talking is at the Tip of Your Tongue

The way you talk at work, like, matters – you know?

4 Steps to Speak Better in Interviews

Toastsmasters International Clubs in Fargo

Elevator Speeches - January 31, 2014
This is a great article on what makes a good elevator speech. And like a good elevator speech, it has the virtue of being short and to the point. Anyone in any profession should be able to craft a good elevator speech about what they do.

Communication: An Important Skill - September 5, 2013
The better we are at speaking to the general public, the more convincing we can be in helping people to understand why they should care about what we do. And it just might help future generations decide on a new career path. Spend some time thinking about how you might explain your research to an 11-year-old!

Alan Alda Wants Scientists to Cut Out the Jargon

A Challenge to Make Science Crystal Clear

Elevator Speeches - January 31, 2014
This is a great article on what makes a good elevator speech. And like a good elevator speech, it has the virtue of being short and to the point. Anyone in any profession should be able to craft a good elevator speech about what they do.


PhD's and Entrepreneurship - February 13, 2014
This author points out some of the characteristics of PhD's that lend themselves to being an entrepreneur. If this route is something that may be of interest to you, there are many resources available to people interested in starting small businesses, ranging from grant and loan programs to workshops/courses to mentorship programs. Spend some time investigating those opportunities in the community where you intend to live. The Chamber of Commerce may be one source of information, the local library may have resources, and even the county extension office may be able to point you toward information.  

A Ph.D.’s Path to Entrepreneurship

Freelancing/Using Digital Media - December 16, 2013
This blog describes the author's decision to leave a tenure-track faculty position that was a poor fit, and to use the skills and expertise she gained through earning her PhD to use digital media as a work platform.

The Rogue Scholar Goes Digital

Determining Your Speaking Fee - October 22, 2013
This article and the comments that follow it have a lot of good advice about what to consider in setting your speaking fee. Although the article is geared toward academics, this is not just an issue that academics may face.

What’s Your Speaking Fee?


The Postdoctoral Bait and Switch
Please see below for a short piece on identifying the differences between a post doc experience that is likely to provide meaningful training and one that is not. I also encourage you to read the comments, as there are some relevant to the new rules for overtime pay as they relate to post docs. Getting as much information as you can about any potential position is in your best interests.

From Bench Science to … ? New Book on Careers for Science PhD’s - August 23, 2017
One thing to note is the important skills mentioned, which includes the ability to communicate! We know how important this is for your success. This is why we have opportunities like the upcoming Three Minute Thesis competition on Wednesday,  February 1 in the Memorial Union. If you have a free hour, come and watch the competition.

Working Productively Rather Than Working More - September 8, 2014
Although the author's primary focus is on working productively as a faculty member, she also talks about graduate school.  The broader points about monitoring how much one actually works, the role of sleep, etc. are applicable for any kind of employment. The reality is that one can be developing work habits that encourage productive working at any point in one's career. There is a catch phrase that says "Work Smarter, Not Harder". Think about whether that applies to your work habits.

Advice on Publishing Journal Articles - June 18, 2014

This article gives some advice about publishing in academic journals that may seem obvious to more experienced authors, but that can be really valuable to consider before sending a paper out for review. Reading articles in the journal you are considering submitting to is a step you cannot skip. Most journal articles are relatively formulaic, and if you read to help you break down that formula so that your article fits in, that can increase your chances of it being accepted.  

It is also a really good idea to get some feedback on a paper before you send it out for review. You can ask your faculty members. You could set up an "article club" with your fellow students and give each other feedback. You can make an appointment with the Graduate Center for Writers. It is easy to feel a little defensive about our own writing, but when you get feedback, remember that the goal of the article is to communicate. If someone doesn't understand or is confused by something in your draft, you are not achieving your communication goal.  

Not getting discouraged is also really important. There are so many variables in the publishing process that if you aren't successful at one journal, this doesn't mean there isn't a journal that will be the right fit.

Career Planning for Graduate Students - May 5, 2014
If you invest a small amount of time every week in your own career development, it will seem less overwhelming and you will likely have greater success.  Early in your program, commit to taking 30 minutes a week to do SOMETHING, and have a system for keeping track of what you have done and what you have learned. This may include learning about your options through networking and informational interviews, reading job ads to identify the qualifications that stand out as important, taking advantage of opportunities to gain related experience that you can highlight on a resume, etc.

Getting the Professional Socialization You Need - March 3, 2014
Graduate school IS a time for students to learn the standards of their field for a host of different issues. These issues can include how to dress, etiquette expectations, how to have a scholarly or professional discussion, etc. The statement that graduate students are often expected to learn these things through osmosis is consistent with my experience. That is often not easy, and can be frustrating for everyone involved. So what can students AND faculty members do to make this easier?  

Students—follow the advice in the comments section and treat graduate school like you would a job. Hold yourself accountable for professional behavior while you are a student. Pay attention to other professionals you have contact with, both inside and outside of the university. Note behaviors that signal professional norms. Practice professional writing and speaking, as  it will become second nature to present yourself in this manner. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the faculty in your program. People are likely to be willing to explain why they did something in a particular manner if your desire to learn is sincere. Ask for and be open to feedback on your professional conduct. 

Faculty—talk about this topic with your students. Be explicit about the unwritten rules. Build opportunities for practice into the students' experiences. Give constructive feedback regarding how to improve. Find good examples of documents that adhere to professional standards. Model professional conduct.

Translatable Skills Developed in Graduate School - December 2, 3013
Professionals with graduate degrees are increasingly choosing career paths beyond academics.  Skills imparted during graduate study are transferrable to careers in corporate and industry settings.  The article below offers tips for describing unique skills developed in graduate school when writing resumes or cover letters or preparing for interviews.

Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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NDSU Graduate School
Phone: +1 (701) 231-7033
Campus address:  106 Putnam Hall
Physical/delivery address:  NDSU Graduate School/106 Putnam Hall/1349 12th Avenue/Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address:  NDSU Dept. 2820/PO Box 6050/Fargo, ND 58108
Page manager: NDSU Graduate School

Last Updated: Friday, July 13, 2018 12:23:11 PM
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