In my day job, I manage professional development programs. And in that field the trend has moved to offering bite-sized training. Appetizers, if you will. Rather than committing someone to a full three-course meal (or more!) of training, we know adults learn best when single-tasked and focused, and in smaller chunks, particularly as we get bombarded with more and more information.
This applies really well to graduate school training too.
One of the foremost thinkers in how we can overhaul the graduate school experience to address career planning is Leonard Cassuto. In addition to his excellent book The Graduate School Mess (which should be required reading for anyone interested in the topic), he also writes a series for the Chronicle of Higher Education called the Graduate Adviser. His latest post, “Outcomes-based Graduate School: The Humanities Edition” illustrates how one university – Lehigh – tackled overhauling its graduate curriculum in English.
There’s several things to note in how they went about this.
A theme of my week seems to be office optics. You know, how things look, how you are perceived by others.
Has anyone ever stopped by your desk to say: “Where is [your neighbor]?” and you don’t know, haven’t seen them in an hour or so, and there’s nothing on their calendar? Bad optics. What about the working parent who CC’s the whole team – and not just the boss – to say “My daycare just called, baby has a fever, I have to go get them. I’ll be taking the rest of the day off”? Good optics! Be transparent. It goes a long way.
Last week, museum workers started a Google sheet to share Art/Museum Salary Transparency. HOORAY! The transparency of salaries and UNequal pay has certainly gotten more attention lately, from the US women’s soccer team lawsuit to actress Michelle Williams coming forward to share how VERY little she got paid last year to women in all kinds of industries – including higher ed– demanding faster action. One of the best ways to get better pay for all (a rising tide lifts all boats, folks!) is for all of us to be more transparent about pay. So I’m glad to see that
someone the Philadelphia Museum of Art staff have kicked this off.
Museums have never been known for paying well. 🤣
But it’s never going to get even marginally better if workers have no clue how their pay is or is not comparable to that of their colleagues. And advocating for better pay industry-wide takes an effort of this scale, so that anyone can see how bad the pay is.
One of the prevailing paradigms in higher ed these days is student success. Cynics decry it as a framework devoid of meaning. After all, haven’t all of us in higher ed existed to ensure student success at all times? As in: how is this “new” or advancing the field? But more narrowly constructed, many universities, colleges, and community colleges frame their missions and strategic plans around it.
Student success can mean many things. It can entail access – ensuring that education remains available to all to the degree possible. It can include breaking down scheduling and financial barriers so students are able to complete their programs and graduate to a rewarding career. And it can mean that institutions provide services for its increasingly diverse students, such as food insecure students, first generation students, etc.
But what does your higher ed institution do for career success for its staff? Anything?
I think a lot about what needs to change when it comes to graduate school. I thought a lot about it before I read Leonard Cassuto’s The Graduate School Mess (which is excellent and highly recommended), but I especially have been thinking more and more about it after having read that. Cassuto makes excellent points about what’s broken, how it got to that point, and who is thinking about good ways to fix it. You don’t have to convince me that grad school needs to be reformed. It needed reform back in the day when I did it!
One of the most important points he makes is that graduate schools need to overhaul the curriculum to incorporate professional development writ large. If students are to succeed in any career path, they will need to be taught how. How to find jobs appropriate to their training, how to market their transferable skills, how to interview and succeed on the job.
That’s all true. Grad school reform is long overdue.