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Using job-seeking skills in your grad career | GradschoolShopper

Using job-seeking skills in your grad school career (Podcast #6)

Amanda Palchak is our guest this episode. She is a physics graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi, and was a Society of Physics Students intern this past summer. Amanda worked on “Career Pathways”, a career resource for undergraduates, and will share her advice about how to get into TA and RA positions — and what they’re good for! Click the PLAY button to listen to this episode!

Are you planning on applying to a research or teaching assistant position? Are you already a TA or RA? Share your experience and advice with us in the comments section.

Amanda Palchak, Graduate Students at the University of Southern Mississippi

Episode Topics

  • What is Career Pathways?
  • How do job-seeking skills apply to graduate school?
  • Example: Research Assistanceship (RA)
  • What benefits can a student gain from being a TA or RA?
  • Advice for students applying to graduate school
  • Advice for graduate students

Episode Summary

Amanda Palchak is a graduate student at the University of Southern Mississippi. She worked on “Career Pathways” during her SPS internship at the American Institute of Physicsin the summer of 2011.

What is Career Pathways?

AIP Career Pathways helps students understand what they can do with a degree in physics. The project includes resources that help students compete for a STEM career upon graduation:

  • How to search for a job?
  • Interviewing skills (in-person or via phone)
  • Writing a resume that will get noticed
  • Networking skills

How do job-seeking skills apply to graduate school?

An application to graduate school involves many of the skills you would employ when applying for a job. For example, graduate schools often request an interview with candidates that is very similar to one you would have during a job application. In addition, when you apply to graduate school you are competing for funding. This means you must present yourself as a desirable student — much like when applying to a job you present yourself as a desirable employee.

This is especially true when applying for positions in your graduate program such as research assistant (RA) or teaching assistant (TA). These positions are often highly competitive, and you may not be guaranteed the job that you’ve applied for even once you are accepted to the program. Ultimately, the stronger your skills are in presenting yourself as a top candidate, the greater your chances are of landing the graduate job of your dreams.

Example: Research Assistanceship (RA)

When you apply for a research assistant position in your graduate program, you need to know exactly what types of research the professors in the department are involved in. This isn’t merely about the general research topics they conduct. Instead, take it upon yourself to delve deeper and research the professors’ particular research interests and methods.

Much like in a job interview, you’ll want to be able to demonstrate how the skills you’ve acquired as an undergraduate can apply in a work setting–or in this case, a lab.

What benefits can a student gain from being a TA or RA?

Aside from the benefits of covering your tuition (partially or fully), TA and RA positions offer students invaluable experience in teaching and research. For Amanda, this experience taught her how much she is passionate about teaching. For countless others, being a TA or RA can be influential in focusing one’s career goals and decisions.

Advice for students applying to graduate school

Some prospective students know what they want to study in grad school but aren’t sure about specific program specialties. In this case, we advise making a list of all the schools you’re interested in and checking their application deadlines and requirements. This way, you’ll know exactly how much time you have to make your decision.

You can find a program’s deadline on its profile on GradschoolShopper.com. You can also browse our new admissions calendarthat allows you to add important dates to your personalized calendar.

Advice for graduate students

Get to know your professors and don’t be afraid of asking them for help, whether for homework questions or research advice. Take advantage of their experience and expertise, because it’s likely they went through this process at one stage in their careers. You may be surprised at how pleased they are to offer their two cents.

Also, don’t be discouraged by diversity in a program–or lack thereof. If you are a woman or minority, embrace this! Offering diversity to a program is incredibly valuable, and you will typically find many people to relate to no matter how large or small your program is.

Are you planning on applying to a research or teaching assistant position? Are you already a TA or RA? Share your experience and advice with us in the comments section.

 

I CAN HAZ HINT!

Are you at PhysCon2012? You want to solve our awesome anagram challenge? Here’s a hint for you:

I was le 16th member to occupy seat 1 of L’Académie française. Oui!

Look for more hints and solve our anagram online!


 

 

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Advice to Students

The best thing you can do as an undergraduate or early graduate student is get as broad a training as possible, in both science and communications.
Communication skills are extremely important, especially to aspiring scientists. Scientific research is funded as a public good by the federal government and various institutions. To get this funding you must compete with many others who want the same funding.
— Dr. Fred Dylla, Executive Director and CEO of the American Institute of Physics, Podcast Episode #4

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