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A behind the scenes look at the graduate experience at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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  • What Can I Do with a PhD in the Humanities?

    It’s well-known that academic jobs are in short supply for humanities PhD graduates right now, but the question ‘what can I do with a PhD in the humanities?’ should have less to do with a lack of academic positions than it should the sheer number of career possibilities. That was the focus of ‘What Can I Do with a PhD in the Humanities?’, a 5-week Graduate College workshop run by Derek Attig that I attended last Spring. The workshop covered advice and resources for finding jobs beyond academia, weekly conversations with humanities PhD graduates working in fields like public radio to environmental advocacy, and self-assessments of values and skills. The self-assessments were particularly illuminating, and they allowed each of us to approach the broader workshop questions with a focus on our own goals and interests.

  • Letters of Reference for Fellowship Applications

    “Applications must include three letters of reference…”

    If you’re applying for graduate research fellowships and grants, you will likely find something along these lines in the application instructions. These letters are absolutely critical to the success of your application, yet you have no control over them — or do you?

    There is no “one-size-fits-all” set of guidelines on this topic. Letters of reference are by their very nature highly personal. Ways of building relationships will also vary according to discipline, the nature of the research, and the applicant’s career goal. That’s why it’s essential to get advice from your advisor and talk with other students in your program about their own successful strategies. However, there are a few overarching points to consider.

  • Where Are They Now? Alison Goebel

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

  • Where Are They Now? Madeline Meyer

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?". Madeline Meyer graduated from the University of Illinois Professional Science Master's Program in December 2014 with a master’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. Now, she works for Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) as a Regulatory Affairs Associate where she supports domestic life cycle management initiatives for the Infection Prevention business unit, including performing regulatory assessments and submitting new drug application supplements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Where Are They Now? Michael Santana

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Michael Santana was the recipient of a Ford Predoctoral Fellowship from 2013 - 2016. He graduated from Illinois in 2016 with a PhD in Mathematics. Now, he is an Assistant Professor (tenure-track) in the Department of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University, which is located in Allendale, MI. In this capacity, he is a teacher, mentor, and advisor to the students at the university and an active member of his department, college, university, and the mathematics community.

  • Where Are They Now? Mariela Fernandez

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Mariela Fernandez graduated from Illinois in 2015 with a PhD in Recreation, Sport and Tourism and a minor from the Latina/Latino Studies Program. Now, she works at Clemson University as an Assistant Professor. Her research examines why lack of access to park and recreation resources occurs in Latino communities, what the health implications of this are, and what strategies can be used to address the problem.

  • Where Are They Now? Hannah Chan-Hartley

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Hannah Chan-Hartley graduated with a PhD in Musicology from the University of Illinois in 2014. Now, she works as the Managing Editor and Musicologist at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In this capacity, she oversees the production of the TSO’s program books and other print publications such as the subscription brochure, which includes the creation, commission, editing, and proof-reading of content. She also works with graphic designers and printers to shape the look of these publications.

  • Where Are They Now? Tori Davis

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Tori Davis graduated from the Illinois Professional Science Master’s Program in December 2015 with a master’s degree in Food Science and Human Nutrition. A month later, she started her career with AB InBev as a Group Manager in the Research Pilot Brewery. In this role, she supports the development of new products as well as the continuous improvement of AB InBev's current products and processes. 

  • Where Are They Now? Meredith Sellers

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Meredith Sellers graduated in 2011 with a PhD in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Now, she works as a Managing Engineer in the Materials and Corrosion Engineering Practice at Exponent Failure Analysis Associates. She specializes in proactive materials characterization and reactive incident investigation, particularly as they relate to oil and gas pipelines, integrated circuit fabrication, and chemical process safety.

  • Where Are They Now? Christine Herman

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Christine Herman graduated from Illinois in 2012 with a PhD in Chemistry and then again in 2014 with her MS in Journalism. Now, she is a multimedia producer at Illinois Public Media, working on a new statewide talk show called "The 21st." Every day, she monitors the news and social media platforms to get discussion ideas for the daily radio talk show. She also reaches out to potential guests and assists the host of the show prepare questions to guide the conversation. 

  • Where Are They Now? Norman Atkins, Jr.

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Norman Atkins, Jr. graduated from the university with a customized joint MBA/PhD (Neuroscience) in 2009. He joined the team at Shire Pharmaceuticals as a Senior Medical Science Liaison for US Neuroscience Global Medical Affairs. After a series of promotions within the company, in June 2016, Norman was promoted to Franchise Global Medical Lead on the Shire Neuroscience Medical Affairs team. In this new role, he heads a cross-functional Global Medical Team for one of the company’s ADHD products. This entails being responsible for articulating the medical strategy for educating/supporting healthcare providers regarding ADHD disease state and clinical/scientific data regarding the company’s ADHD therapies. He also contributes medical/scientific input as a member of the larger Product Strategy Team for the marketed product.

  • An Internship Can Help Change the Direction of Your Career

    Should you do an internship in grad school? Kristin Divis says “Yes!” and once you hear her story, it’s easy to understand why.

    This summer, after graduating with a PhD in Psychology from Illinois, Divis started an exciting, full-time job at Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia is also, as it turns out, where she’d worked as an intern for several years while in grad school.

    I spoke with Divis earlier this year, shortly before she graduated and not long after she accepted that full-time offer. She wanted to share her reasons for doing an internship, what she learned, and why you should consider doing one, too. Here’s what she had to say...

  • More Than Just Buzzwords: Social Media as a Tool for Personal Branding in STEM

    nspired by nothing more than a joking remark from a colleague on the importance of securing a unique domain name before someone “stole it,” I made my personal website, RituRaman.com, in my second year of graduate school. Luckily for me, launching this website was the first step in an ongoing attempt to develop a coherent web presence and recognizable personal brand.

    Before I continue, I would like to acknowledge that terms like “personal brand” can often come across as meaningless buzzwords used by millennials to justify a relatively self-centered use of social media. When used without context, they make me cringe and feel pretentious – and I understand if they make you do the same – but this blog post isn’t about the philosophical clash between personal modesty and taking selfies. Rather, this post is about crafting your online presence in a way that best represents your personal history, your interests, and your future goals.

    Now that we’ve moved past the obligatory disclaimers, I will attempt to distill the social media lessons I’ve learned over the past few years into a few pithy steps.

  • Where Are They Now? Michelle Voss

    Michelle Voss earned her PhD in Psychology with a focus on Brain & Cognition (now Cognitive Neuroscience focus) at the University of Illinois in 2011. Now, she works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Iowa. In addition to teaching undergraduate and graduate students, she runs a lab that does research on how the brain changes with aging and brain injury, how these changes to the brain impact the way we think, perceive, and act, and what factors (like exercise) improve cognitive and behavioral outcomes associated with aging and brain injury.

  • What We Learned at the Faculty Job Search Retreat

    On an especially hot and muggy day last month, nearly 250 graduate students and postdocs peeled themselves away from the bench, left the library, set aside their dissertations, and trekked over to the Illini Union for the Graduate College’s seventh annual Faculty Job Search Retreat.

    The retreat featured sessions on application documents of all kinds (cover letters! teaching philosophies! research statements!), helping attendees get ready to write excellent materials. But as it is every year, the highlight of the day was a panel of faculty members who offered a window into everyday life and hiring practices at their very different institutions. This year’s guests were: James Matthews, Associate Professor of French at Illinois Wesleyan University; Angela Glaros, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at Eastern Illinois University; and Jeremy Guest, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois.

    Since not all of you could attend this year, we thought we would share some highlights in the form of 3 tips from our panelists....

     

  • Where Are They Now? Irene Aninye

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Irene Aninye earned her PhD in Molecular and Integrative Physiology (MIP) in 2012. She currently serves as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In this capacity, she conducts laboratory research to study the genetic pathways that regulate thyroid hormone action in the brain. She also works as an Adjunct Faculty at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, where she teaches biology courses. 

  • Where Are They Now? Marios Georgiou

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Marios Georgiou graduated with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering in August of 2014. He currently lives in Orlando, Florida, where he works as a Value Engineer for Addison-HVAC, a brand of Specified Air that specializes in 100% outside air units. In this position, he's responsible for eliminating waste in every manufacturing process for Addison-HVAC.

  • Gain Valuable Mentoring Experience with URAP

    Are you looking for a mentoring opportunity? Whether you are interested in a career in academia or industry, you should be.

    A recent University of Washington (CIRGE) study of PhDs five years after the attainment of their doctorates found that PhD students generally feel well prepared for careers both inside and outside of academia, but additional training in essential professional competencies is still needed. Managing people and projects ranked high on this list, with 31% of respondents in academia and 47% of respondents in the public and private sectors rating this skill as “very important” but only 3% of the respondents rating their training in these areas as “excellent.” Acting as a mentor while you are in grad school can help narrow this gap.

    The problem is, opportunities for graduate students to serve as mentors can be hard to come by. That’s why Graduate College Educational Equity Programs and the Office of Undergraduate Research joined forces to start the Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program at the University of Illinois (URAP). Now in its second year, URAP offers the opportunity for first- and second-year undergraduate students to assist graduate students who are ABD with their research projects.

    Hear what some of our inaugural mentors and mentees had to say about their mentoring experience with URAP at a recent panel discussion...

  • Where Are They Now? Heather Salus

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?". Heather Salus graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Poetry) in 2010. She works as a permissions researcher at The Permissions Group in Glenview, Illinois where she helps writers connect with the permissions they need to include third-party work in their own writing.  

     

  • Where Are They Now? April Warren-Grice

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    April Warren-Grice completed her PhD in Educational Policy Studies in 2014. Now, she works with K-12 public school districts and schools on issues of equity in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska while also teaching graduate courses in the graduate social justice certificate program as the Coordinator for Professional Development and Assistant Professor of Curriculum Instruction at Midwest Equity Assistance Center (MEAC) at Kansas State University.  

  • Grad School 101: Making Your Skills Make Sense Outside Academia

    I’ll start with the good news: as a graduate student, you have a ton of fascinating, impressive skills. You know how to do lots of different things, and you know how to learn even more of them. The bad news really isn’t so bad, just initially frustrating: many of those amazing skills you have aren’t always going to make a ton of sense to people outside your field, let alone outside of academia entirely. At least not at first.

    Does that mean those skills aren’t valuable outside academia? Absolutely not. It just means you have to be creative and translate them. By shifting how you think and talk about your skills, you can help potential employers see the links between what you've done and what they need—and make it easier for them to hire you. And you’ll also make it easier for yourself to discover and explore broad, interesting career options.

  • Where Are They Now? Mert Bay

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Mert Bay completed his PhD in Electrical and Computer Engingeering (ECE) in 2012. Now, he works as principal data scientist at Conversion Logic, an early stage marketing analytics startup in Santa Monica, California. In this capacity, he builds models that are deployed in the company's software product to help their clients understand the effectiveness of their marketing investments in online and offline media channels.

  • Where Are They Now? Cecily Garber

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Cecily Garber completed her PhD in English (literature) in 2014. Now, she works as a Communications Officer and ACLS (American Council of Learned Societies) Public Fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges, an association that supports small liberal arts colleges. There, she runs social media channels, updates a website, writes and edits, helps organize a large symposium, and occasionally edits video and audio all with the goal of promoting the liberal arts.

  • Grad School 101: The Faculty Interview

    There’s nothing quite like a faculty interview to get you tied into knots. The stakes are high, the formats can be awkward, and it’s not really like anything you’ve done before. So it’s easy to be scared, anxious, worried, nervous, apprehensive—or just plain super-freaked-out. And that’s normal. But it’s a good idea to be some other things, too. Here are some ideas...

  • Where Are They Now? Nile Blunt

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this new monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?". Our first interviewee, Nile Blunt, completed his PhD in History in 2011. After leaving Illinois, he began work at Phillips Academy, an independent secondary boarding school in Andover, MA. There, he serves as an instructor in history, the curator of the Academy’s Collection of Art and Antiques as well as the Academy’s Geographer at Large. 

  • Four Ways to Make Your Research Presentation Stand Out

    It’s after midnight, you’re taking a quick look at the slides for your research presentation the next morning, and you have this distressing thought: “I think my research is interesting, but will anyone else?” No one wants years of hard work to be met with blank stares or a fascinating discovery to be dismissed by wandering minds. Your research is interesting, but how do you get people to realize that?

  • Stop the Hamster Wheel: Making Plans in Grad School

    Graduate school can sometimes feel like running on a hamster wheel, like you’re in constant motion but not really sure that you’re getting anywhere.

    There are a ton of one-week deadlines (I have to write that literature review by Tuesday!) and a few five-year deadlines (I’ll defend my dissertation!), but bridging the gaps between those can be tough. And that makes it hard to figure out whether you’re headed in the right direction. Planning can help you build those bridges effectively, preparing you to make choices with your goals in mind so you don’t just keep spinning until you’re dizzy.

    So what makes a good plan? What will help you leave the wheel to the hamsters and make the most of grad school? Here are some approaches we recommend...

  • Going on the Market? Time to Get Started on those Applications

    Back to school is almost back. Soon, it’ll be time to put away the sunscreen and dust off your research. Time to fold up that beach umbrella and pull out those freshly sharpened pencils. With the start of a new semester, you may find yourself busy to bursting with things to do—new classes to prep and new deadlines to meet—but now is also a great time to get ready for the academic job market.