#phdchat, Reflections

So You’re Thinking About a PhD…

In talking to my exploring major students on campus and other professionals in the field — I often share about my Ph.D. experience and talk about what it means to be a doctoral researcher.  Often I am asked about my Ph.D. program, my line of research, and how “I like it.” I often say I’m too close to it to really give advice, but I’m happy to talk about my experience and answer questions as I can or refer to others.

phd
Last fall at the #nacada13 conference in Salt Lake City, UT, I was part of a doctoral researcher panel on this topic: 
How To Hack Your Ph.D.: Being a Doctoral Student & Academic Advisor and a few #HackPhD Notes on Storify

It was a full house. Not surprised. There has been a growing interest among colleagues interested in pursuing a Ph.D. I am often asked about my Ph.D. research, progress, and if others should get into the same program or even start a Ph.D. To be honest, I am not sure I have the answers to these questions. I am too near the subject right now…

I’ve read a great number of books on the topic of graduate work, Ph.D. survival, writing, publishing, research, and more – but really, it was for my own inquiry and nerdy interest.  Like any good academic/career counselor, I usually ask those interested in a Ph.D. about their own motivations and rationale for the interest in doctoral research.

So you’re thinking about a Ph.D.? I have 10 questions AND prompts for you! I am not sure it will help — but I thought I might as well put these “you wanna pursue a Ph.D.” questions out there others who are considering the Ph.D. track. Take these questions with you as you ponder your Ph.D. goals, research potential graduate programs, apply to potential programs, and, even, start your first semester of your doctorate program:

  • What career goals do you have? List both your short-term and long-term goals in a statement. Write them out, read, and reflect.
  • How does your current work experience (resume/CV) relate to your career goals and interest in a Ph.D. program? Reflect on your relevant experience.
  • How your master’s degree or other educational credentials relate to and support your career goals? Describe your academic experience and background.
  • If you were going to seek out letters of recommendation for your Ph.D. program, who would write your letters of recommendation? Why? What might they say about you? List at least three individuals who would be your academic reference, and consider what they might say about your application to a scholarly program.
  • Do you have any scholarly or peer-reviewed writing samples? If so, please consider how they might be submitted and reviewed by a potential Ph.D. program. If not, what articles or journals interest you in your area. Research!
  • What is your research interest? Often you will have to complete a “Statement of Research Interest” so explain the areas or topics you want to study. If applicable, also consider for research:
      • Any specific theories or models of interest?
      • What seminal work in the field have you read?
      • What will you use to guide your research focus? Authors? Disciplines?
      • What is your preferred research methodology?
      • What is your research methods “worldview”?
  • What will you contribute to the doctoral research and your Ph.D. program? Explain the unique knowledge and skills you will bring into a doctoral program as a potential student
  • What will you contribute to the doctoral research and your Ph.D. program? Explain the unique knowledge and skills you will bring into a doctoral program as a potential student.
  • Where do you want to study? This question is for both geographic location and specific discipline home (e.g. education, sociology, economics, etc.).
  • How will your basic needs be met? Financial, emotional, and social support. It is important to think about your budget, personal relationships, professional objectives, and more when plotting for doctoral work. This will be a few years of your life — so be sure this how you want to spend it. Have this discussion with family, partners, and friends in advance. Be informed about scholarships and funding costs.
  • When is the right time? I doubt this ever has a great answer – but you need to determine this for you after answering the above questions. Decide if the Ph.D. route is right for you, and then if the timing is right or can be right. You can always make it work if you want it. [p.s. Did I say you should WANT to do a Ph.D.? That’s the only way to finish.]
Bonus Question: Who will mentor you through your Ph.D. progress? Faculty advisors at your campus will be great, but who else will you consider as part of your doctoral experience. Peers? Colleagues? Researchers in the field? Scholars, you admire/read?Doctoral candidates and early career researchers? Build your Ph.D. learning network NOW.
Learning Community, Professional Development, UGST1000

Help My #ugstSTORY Class Tell Their Story

It seems that all is quiet on the TechKNOW Tools blog front… Sorry about that.

The start of the academic semester came fast and furious, and I have been busy engaging with and learning about my students’ stories for my #ugstSTORY class this Fall 2013 semester. This is my UGST 1000 – First Year seminar class where my students explore their major/career options, get support with transition to college, and learn more about themselves.  Feel free to follow along with our “story” this Fall if you would like:

ugstSTORY Pic

With this seminar class, a great portion of the focus is on self discovery and exploration for personal, academic, and career options. Like many students who are “undecided” or exploring their options, many of my #ugstSTORY students have more than one interest and want to make sure they are going down the right path for them. In learning about many of their talents and skills, I can see why it might be a challenge to just focus on one major. They are a creative and involved class who what to include what they VALUE in their future world of work and life.

What My #ugstSTORY Class Values
During the Fall 2013 semester, my #ugstSTORY students will leave a digital footprint, and will be encouraged to explore their personal and professional options. In their research to make an informed decision, a number of my students will reach out to professionals and industry leaders in the world of work to answer: “What do I want to do with my life?” and “How did you get to where you are?” I am not sure these BIG QUESTIONS will and/or can be answered in just one semester; however I think a few of the assignments and projects will hopefully get them started.

The first assignment, the Road Trip Nation (RTN) Project, is designed to help my students explore personal, academic, and career paths. More importantly, it allows them to understand that many directions will lead you towards your goals and dreams. Their recent blog posts identified what how to find their “Red Rubber Ball,” that is, where do they get their inspiration, passion, interests, values, and likes. Specifically, I asked what potential careers, professions or industries would they like to learn more about.  Here’s a short list from their in-depth blog posts this week:

Interview: Potential Careers & Industry

Interests & Passions

Journalism; Sports Journalism; Broadcaster Friends; Family; Hockey; Sports
Artist; Engineer; Philanthropist; Advertising; Therapist Stability; Helping Others
Journalism; Pre-Law; Psychologist Community Involvement; Travel; Family
Clinical Psych; Greenpeace Environment Activism; Animals; photography; food; language
High School Librarian Reading; books; writing
Engineering; Tourism; Economics Travel; Stability; Accomplishing goals
No Clue Relationships; Smile; Creativity; Individuality
Writer; Journalism Music; Belonging; Writing;
National Geographic; Journalism Travel; Photography;
Broadcaster/Journalism Sports Talking; Sports; Opinions to voice
Photojournalist; Forensics; Library Science Cartoons; Anime; Photography; Music
Psychology; Fashion Merchandising; Law People; Cultures; Travel;
Sales Engineering Music; Activism; Star Wars
Sports Analyst; Broadcaster/Journalist NFL Analyst; sports industry
Neurology; Psychology; Editor/Publishing Anime; Neuroscience; travel; career student; small business

The reason I am sharing more about my class with you is to get them connected beyond our class and the UNT campus. Since I have some phenomenal friends, family, and colleagues in my own learning and professional network, I thought a few of YOU might be able to provide some of your own experience and wisdom for their exploration, specifically by:

  1. SHARING A Resource: We tweet with the #ugstSTORY hashtag, so if you see a link, article, website or anything related to major and career exploration – cc: @ugstSTORY or just put the #ugstSTORY hashtag on it!
  2. READING Their Blog Posts: If you have time to read, comment & post on their WordPress blogs, that would be super rad. Although many are just blogging for the first time, a number of my #ugstSTORY students have very thoughtful and creative perspectives about life in college so far. It would be great if they got a response or two outside our #ugstSTORY class – drop them a comment or like. 🙂
  3. MENTOR Virtually: For the RTN Project a number of the #ugstSTORY learners will be seeking informational interviews with companies, professionals, and different organizations (listed above or might not be listed as they don’t know your about your occupation yet); if you OR someone you know is available and interested in sharing with my students what they do for a living and why they love it – LET ME KNOW!  Yes! I want to MENTOR a #ugstSTORY Student p.s. Pass this link onto a friend you might know as well. Thanks!
Collaboration, Professional Development

How Do You Cultivate Mentoring Opportunities?

During our session at the #UNTAdv12  Conference last week, our panel hosted a discussion on the topic of mentoring in higher education. We talked about what formal and informal mentoring looks like on our college and university campuses, specifically to support our faculty, develop our staff members and engage our students students. Here are the key words that were shared during the discussion:

It is important for campus communities to consider the potential of mentoring. There are a number of benefits to supporting mentoring at a college or university. Some might be interested in connecting our students to their learning environment, while other institutions might be interested in helping new faculty transition. A number of mentoring programs provide return on investment for employees, which includes increased retention, career development, and professional engagement. By developing a culture of mentoring, organizations have the ability to increase collaborative learning and support sustainable leadership.

What sort of mentoring is happening on your campus or within your organization? Please feel free to add your mentoring program or resources to the open google doc: http://bit.ly/MentoringMatters