Posts Tagged career

Get Down to Business About Your Career

One of my hands is hot and the other is cold.  The reason I notice this is because I have decided the put my hands up to my chin like Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch, not Downey Jr.).  I can’t think.  Sadly, the hand-to-chin-thing is useless for me.  The holidays are around the corner and my head is spinning.  New Year’s Eve is so close and another year is almost gone.

Times like these are GREAT times for career reflections.  As much as personal reflections and road maps to happiness, weight loss, and world travel, are created with intense desire most naturally these times of year, career development seems to take up only the smallest moment in time.  Believe it or not, it is probably easier to move forward career-wise than it is to lose 20 lbs. or plan a trip around the world (cough, money, cough).

I typically stick to academic-type career sources in this blog, but today I want to mention Bold Career’s Holiday Post.  First – the name of this Career Development firm is BOLD CAREER.  It is great!  The author of the post and firm’s fearless leader, Ian Christie, was the former Senior Director at  So – yes – it is a business-esque article with some very business-ish suggestions that you can probably ignore.  But, overall this article is a New-Year-Get-Motivated-You-Can-Do-It-Waahoooo-Go-Get-’em Career Guide, neatly sectioned in phases, numbered, and sub-headed with letters (Social, Reflective, and New Beginnings).  While the photo of the board room makes me feel physically ill, the content is WORTH IT.

Oh how this article dragged me out of a deep, dark hole.  I have been here before folks and I am sure that I will be here again (next year and the year after).  It is nice to have something tangible to help you get down to it; to help you roll your sleeves up (old sweat shirt, robe, adult onesie, ANY type of sleeves will do) and just challenge that part of your brain that likes to watch television until 3 a.m. and procrastinate on comps.  This corporate guy has a lot to offer advice-wise, and I think even The Dude would approve.

My favorite quote by Christie is when he discusses removing roadblocks. He writes, “Let’s face it. We can have a lot of baggage.” Haaaa.  I have baggage that is for sure.  I also have a Netflix account so there is like, a third of my life gone.  I am really looking forward to working through these phases over the winter break and I hope you are too!  Let me know  how it works out – or if you want to discuss, I am available.  Just email  Spend some time this holiday getting down to business about your career and get competitive in the market place.  It is a rough world out there.  Even Santa knows he needs to corner the market if he wants to stay relevant! (Just kidding, Santa would never do that to the Easter Bunny – not even a Milka Chocolate Santa).

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You’re Hired! Now What?

To all those who graduated, or are very close – be aware that buyers remorse isn’t exclusive to material items… It exists in the world of hiring management too!  You finally land a job – start it off right by maintaining the first impression you worked so hard to set.

According to a post by David Perlmutter in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

  1. Be thankful you got the job and don’t drop off the face of the planet once you get the green light.
  2. Respond to “Welcome Emails” from colleagues – you need their support and they need our support.
  3. Don’t compare the old to the new – no one wants to hear it!
  4. You still have to prepare – it is obvious when you don’t.  Teaching Chem 101 won’t be exactly the same.

Congratulations! You have a job!  Now, remember that first impression got you the job will help you keep it!

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Cover Letters

Take it from someone (Karen Kelsky, aka, The Professor) who has read approx 2200 cover letters: YOUR COVER LETTER PROBABLY STINKS!  Below, I have highlighted some some errors many students make straight from her amazing and seriously helpful site – The Professor Is In.

-Too long
-Not on letter head
-Doesn’t follow business letter etiquette
-Contains way to much info on your dissertation
-You label yourself as a student (rather than colleague)

Relate to some of these common mistakes? For more reasons your cover letter   probably stinks – and HOW to make it BETTER, check out the Professor’s blog article.

Check out the CV Writing workshop coming up at UT Arlington!

June 12 @ 12:30 p.m.

Room 303, Chemistry and Physics Building

Register on the EDGE site. FREE LUNCH!

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What I Discovered in this Article

The Chronicle’s article (March 2013) entitled, Ph.D’s Spend Big Bucks Hunting for Academic Jobs, With No Guaranteed Results is very interesting.  What did I learn?

1. Long Titles are no good.

2. How can someone rack up  $100,000 in school debt while working AND publishing a chapter in a book?

But most importantly…

3. Whoever the unemployed graduate is that created Interfolio is a GENIUS!

I read so many articles on the difficulty of finding tenure-track positions, the job market slump, the rising cost of education, and the overall economic instability of the American workforce, that the topics are now dull (and depressing).  The words blur together and my mind starts to wonder – who has a good job? Well, I have a pretty good job.  The guy writing the article may have a good job.  The guy IN the article may have a good job at this point, after all the strife.  But really, its the employes of the SERVICES that are referenced in the article that have the good life.  They took a look at their situation, saw others in it, and developed a solution.  Mind blowing, right?

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Making Your Internship Count

First off – here is a link to the full guide from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Here are a few good points:

1. GET ORGANIZED – Ask your supervisor about the skills you should expect to learn.  Ask for a meeting to create a list of learning outcomes; this way, both you and your supervisor know what is expected and there are no miscommunications.  The point of an internship is to get a feel for the work and to gain useful experience.  If you make coffee, run errands, and pick up dog poo (ok, extreme example) then you aren’t getting the life lessons you deserve.  If you are already stuck in an internship much like the one described above, then a 15-minute meeting could really turn things around or set you on the path to finding a new opportunity.

2. REPORT BACK – Find out who you report to and then…. report!  Make sure your team knows about your contributions.  If you are successful, then excellent.  If you need more guidance, they will be able to provide it before you veer too far off track.

3.  PLAN YOUR CAREER – Ask co-workers, peers, and network contacts what professional organizations they affiliate with, what parts of the job the like the most, where they plan to move next in their careers, and how they plan to get there.  There is no better career advice then someone with the job you want.

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Career Research – How & Why

The “why” portion of this post: Warning! Blanket statement to follow: Research is important because knowledge is power.  If you are considering a job outside of academia, research is essential.

Tips for the “how” portion of this post: Jobs on Toast has a great post about researching jobs in your industry.  However, you need industries of interest in mind before starting.  Good thing there is a post for that too.

Some suggestions:

  • Read books, newspapers and magazines in your chosen industries.
  • Read blogs and listen to pod casts – there is a wealth of information that didn’t make it into the top journals.
  • Network, both in-person and online.  Email HR Reps, create a database of contacts you meet at events, and keep in touch with those people!

There is also an interesting post on creating a Career Roadmap that is broken into four steps: discovering potential, finding a niche, marketing yourself, and getting an offer.  Check it out.

On an unrelated note – LOOK!  It’s Steve Jobs on a piece of toast! Get it? Jobs on Toast? Like, Steve JOBS on Toast?

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Make New Year’s Goals- NOT Resolutions

Eliana Osborn, for the Chronicle of Higher Education (Jan. 2013), has set just a few resolutions for the upcoming year.  While many of my friends and colleagues either refuse to set “resolutions” or repeatedly focus on health/weight/beauty or financial issues, I am going to suggest a different approach for this year- a “Goal” approach.  Osborn has it right on the money with her list of academic resolutions:

-Read more in my discipline.
-Engage with colleagues.
-Hold firm on the guidelines you set [for both others and yourself].

So… if doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results is insanity, then I know a LOT of insane people.  Stop setting ridiculous, unachievable, and probably vague resolutions year after year.  Take a different approach to moving forward with your professional and personal life in 2013 and set some very real, very quantitative goals.

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Quality Career Advice: “Think About It”

What new Ph.D.s need to do to survive, Long said, is to think about…

1. Analogies: how do their skills fit in other parts of the academy?
2. Resilience: preparing for a long haul
3. Entrepreneurship: thinking of jobs that don’t currently exist

- Strategic Job Hunting from Inside Higher Ed

In other words… there doesn’t have to be a job posting for you to get a job, and that job doesn’t absolutely have to be a teaching job to be of the academic nature. DO NOT SETTLE.  Traditional pathways are not the only pathways and most take too much time before promotion and career progression resulting in a miserable 40 hours+ work week.  There are so many wonderful positions that require research, creativity, intuition, knowledge and practice of the scientific method, and BRAINS that volunteering to wear one-track career blinders is borderline insane.

The “anything but tenure track is failure” model is no longer accurate.  So – give it up.  Put it away. Start looking towards what exactly you want to do, based on internal values, goals, and desires unique to you and NOT based on outdated interpretations of stature and success.  Meet with a career counselor, attend edge programs, or email me (  Take, at the least, a minimum amount of time to discover career possibilities.

Separate the expected from the truly valued.

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Greybeards Score You the Job

One Rule of the Job Talk, complements of The Professor Is In blog and source of wisdom of all things graduate study, is to call on the most senior members of the faculty.  Who are these people?  How can I find them?  According to the Professor, “The rule is:  the grayer the hair, the sooner you need to call on them.” Another tidbit of wisdom from the Professor:

Most jobs are lost in the Q and A session of the job talk.

Why?  You need to prove yourself as a colleague of the faculty with which you expect to work.  Avoid graduate students – they don’t make the decision whether or not to hire you or burn your resume to heat the research lab during a coffee-induced delirium while trying to meet a grant deadline.  Also – get a practice session in.  Corner a professor; beg your committee members – do what you must.  Be BE PREPARED to apply your research in amazing and atypical ways.

No one wants another wheel!  Hello – we want hover cars like the ones in the Fifth Element.

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Wisconson Anyone?

I heard they have good cheese and an open Assistant Director position.

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