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A behind the scenes look at the graduate experience at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
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  • Grad School 101: How to Find Fellowships That Are Right for You

    Let’s talk funding.

    Maybe you've heard someone say, “There’s a lot of money out there, you just have to look for it,” and thought to yourself, "Great, but where do I look?" Don't worry - we've got you. Our brand new Fellowship Finder database is now live. It showcases over 1,100 fellowship and grant opportunities that help students fund their graduate studies, and it features a new search process, with lots of options to make your search quicker and more precise.

    Fellowship Finder specializes in awards offered by external funders: government agencies, private foundations, corporations, and other entities outside of the university. We also include a handful of campus opportunities such as those offered by the Graduate College. Best of all, Fellowship Finder is a curated database, meaning that real people (we here in the Office of External Fellowships) make sure that the listings we include are truly useful to graduate students.

    How does the database work? Let’s take a look.

  • 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...

  • Marrying Math and Art through Outreach

    When Michelle Delcourt was presented with the choice between math or art summer programs in high school, she knew that by choosing mathematics, she’d never leave art far behind. “For me, math is a very creative process,” she said. “Math and art are very similar, the process of doing research in doing mathematics is similar to the way that I approach making a painting or seeing a piece of artwork.”

    Now, the 5th year PhD candidate and winner of this year’s Graduate Student Leadership Award uses her love of math and art to engage young girls and underrepresented minority students in math through community outreach programs. She hopes that her approach could help attract students who might not otherwise choose mathematics.

  • Meet Ana Martin: Fulbright Research Fellow in Barcelona, Spain

    Hola! My name is Ana Martin, I am a 6th year PhD student in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Illinois. This month has been pretty exciting for me as it marks the beginning of my Fulbright Research Fellowship in Spain. Although it was a long process getting here, I’m excited to embark on the adventure of living abroad while I complete my PhD research at the University of Barcelona. For anyone interested in teaching English or conducting research abroad, I highly recommend applying for a Fulbright Fellowship. Hopefully through this post you will gain some insight into the application process and some aspects of moving abroad.

  • 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...

  • Teaching (and Learning) Beyond the Classroom

    For many Illinois graduate students, the classroom is just one avenue for teaching and learning. We asked three graduate students to reflect on their experiences working with programs that served middle school, high school, and incoming graduate students. Although their research interests and programs differ, they shared a common outcome. Through mentoring, they’d learned as much as they taught.  They shared their thoughts with Grad Life.

  • 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.

  • Welcome to Grad Life, a New Blog about the Illinois Graduate Experience

    Welcome to Grad Life. With over 10,000 graduate students on the Urbana Campus, there are as many narratives to the University of Illinois Grad experience as there are individuals.  Our grads hail from all corners of the world and are researching, studying, and teaching to try to solve some of the toughest problems of our time. Whether you’re attending classes in person or online, pursuing a Master’s degree or a PhD - this is a place to share and shape your graduate school experience.