This is my last semester of grad school. Although it has been five years, it seems like a very short time ago since I began my doctoral program. In that five years, I have taken numerous classes, attended local and national conferences and engaged in some really interesting research projects, including my dissertation project.
By far, this has been my busiest semester. Not only am I writing my dissertation, but I am also interviewing for faculty positions at different universities and preparing presentations for two national conferences scheduled in March.
Luckily, my experiences as a doctoral student at IU have prepared me for what lies ahead. My advice for those beginning their graduate program is to seek out experiences that will make you well-rounded and agile in your field. Sometimes it means taking on projects that don’t pay much, if at all, but provide experiences that will make you stand out as a job candidate. Sure, it’s good to have a clearly defined research agenda. But as I’m learning from my interviews at other institutions, it’s not enough to be the foremost expert in one area. You also need to know how to teach (often using cutting-edge, innovative methods), develop collaborative working relationships with colleagues and community partners, and be able think beyond the nascent line of research you’ve developed as a grad student. Search committees want to know not only how you’ve contributed to your field of expertise, but also how you could make a substantial contribution to their institution.