When it comes to failing, where do you tend to assign blame? Knowing academics, I’m guessing that you tend to blame yourself (because often that’s true).
Let’s take a concrete example. Let’s say you are competing for a job that you really want. You put forth the effort to write a strong cover letter and tailor your resume. You get a call for a phone interview. You start to accept that this might really happen. You get an in-person interview. You give a great interview. You are charming, you’re personable, you have strong answers prepared, and you’re sensing that the committee liked you. After you leave, you start thinking that “this could be it! I might finally get the job I deserve!” You even start to publicly tell your references and circle that you did really well, and you are waiting for an offer any minute.
And then, you get the rejection email.
What’s your reaction?
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.
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.
It’s not just introverts who hate in-person networking. It’s also people who are time-pressed. My workplace is pretty good about having networking events during the day – a first-thing-in-the-morning type thing, or a networking lunch – but let’s face it, most places are not. Most networking events are after-hours, often off site at a bar (which raises its own issues of shutting out people who don’t want to be in that environment). People who have dogs who need to be let out, long commutes, loved ones to go care for, groceries to grab just simply do not have time for this.
But fear not! You can network from behind your keyboard. I’ve written about this a bit before, but today I’ll walk you through a foolproof method for connecting with someone new via email.