Throughout the conference, I targeted the Fireside Chats, sponsored by the GSC and specific divisions. These sessions are improvisational, filled with timely advice, and interactive. The session GSC Division E Fireside Chat: The In Between: How to Use My Time Wisely was filled with practical and inspirational advice for the student-scholar transition. The panel was responsive to the immediate questions of the audience and clearly take the role of mentor seriously. Here are some of the highlights:
- Know your own personal path and make choices to keep you on the path.
- Focus on filling the gaps in your CV – teaching, research, publishing, etc. It may be useful to delay graduation to fill the gap, but don't delay too long.
- Get published – the sooner the better, even if it is in smaller journals
- Get on committees (but not ones that are too time consuming).
- Do a post-doc only if it will advance your personal path.
- Be able to articulate not only your past work, but clearly know your future research agenda.
Another interesting point made was about creating support systems. It is fairly obvious that to make it through graduate school, then as an junior scholar, then through tenure, support is needed. However, one of the panelists had a nice way of identifying the people in her life as supports and recommended evaluating the reciprocity of the relationships. If the relationship isn't working, then it might be time to “prune” the person.
3 Tiers of Support
- People who help you get the job done.
- People who are steps ahead of you and can mentor you.
- People who are social supports – need work/life balance.
Rejection is a part of academia. Get used to it. Move on.
Define success for yourself and move towards it. Don't buy into the institution's view of success.