Whether you’re thinking about going to graduate school, applying to grad school, choosing a grad school or just starting out in your first year, this is a VERY helpful book. Is graduate school the right choice for you? Do you want to get a master’s degree or a Ph.D.? How do you choose the right school? This book helps you answer each and every one of these very important questions. Once you do decide to apply to graduate school, how do you know what each school is looking for? Applying to graduate school can often seem very ambiguous and a daunting task. Schools often don’t very much information or guidance on admissions standards or average rates of acceptance. This book walks you through every step of your application from the GRE to personal statements and recommendations in order to make it the most successful it can be. Not only are you provided with criteria for choosing a school, you are given tips and tricks on how to be the most successful in graduate school as you can possibly be from beginning to end for both Master’s students and Ph.D. candidates. The author received his Ph.D. in biology from Stanford University and gathered a lot of the information by interviewing students, career counselors and faculty. The author packs each chapter full of real-life experiences from good to the bad and gives you a really good idea of what challenges you may face as a graduate. This book is a comprehensive guide to the dos and don’ts of every aspect of the life of a grad student and is definitely a must-read for anyone considering this postgrad path!
In his book “Never Eat Alone”, Keith Ferrazzi offers advice on how to build and utilize meaningful networks and relationships with others. Ferrazzi grew up under the care of a lower-middle class family and applied his networking power and prowess to work his way up to Yale, a Harvard M.B.A., and more than a few top executive job positions. Throughout the book he uses a blend of personal experiences, personal observations, and anecdotes about notable business people to help demonstrate the importance of exploiting one’s skillsets and assets to becoming prosperous both in the professional and personal aspects of life. Whilst the book is filled with a plethora of useful information, what has resonated with me the most are his use of a Networking Action Plan and the idea of “pinging”.
Right off the bat, Ferrazzi introduces the ideas that the more specific you are about what you want to do, the easier it will be to develop a strategy to accomplish it. Figuring out your passions and what you want to do with them is difficult, both in and beyond college. However, this book instructs that the first step is to write down any and all of your dreams and goals no matter how outlandish or pragmatic they may be. Next, it is important to make a list of the activities, people, and achievements that stimulate you and make a connection between the two lists. Once you have established these connections it is time to develop what Ferrazzi calls a Networking Action Plan. Here are the three steps:
- Part 1: Develop the goals that will help you fulfill your mission
- Make a list of what you would like to accomplish 3 years from today. Follow this by working backwards and making a list of short-term goals within small increments of time such as a few months or a year.
- Part 2: Connect those goals to the people, places, and things. Research and develop a list of a few people who you could seek out to connect you with the goals and missions
- Part 3: Determine the best way to reach out to the people who will help you accomplish your goals and begin connecting!
Something that is echoed throughout the book is the notion that we must build our networks before we may even need them. This is tied in with the idea that we should never stop “pinging” or staying in touch with those we have connected with. It is important to make connections with people to establish good relationships with them, not just when you need something. Remember, these relationships are not to be one sided. It is not an ask and you shall receive kind of deal; you must also be willing to offer some service of yours back to the other person. Never miss an opportunity to build upon your network whether this is through friends of friends, old acquaintances from school, or family. You won’t want to wait until you’re out on your own or out of a job to begin reaching out to others.
It is important to take advantage of the resources you have available to you. If you don’t know where to start, the Career Services office is an excellent tool for you to utilize to begin your professional network. Not only will the staff members be able to be the first members of your network, but they will also connect you with the other opportunities out there. The career expos and job fairs should be events you will start thinking of attending. “Never Eat Alone” was an enlightening book full of good tips and stories and I highly recommend it.
Many career books are written from a secular perspective. These are helpful, but some people want to have their work and their religious life overlap. This does not mean that they want to work in a religious setting. There are people who want to feel as if they are in a career because it aligns with what God’s mission for them is. In How to Find Your Mission in Life, Richard N. Bolles explores how to find one’s mission in life. While his definition of “mission” is God’s mission for a person, many of his steps and advice can be used in a secular way as well. Everybody has a mission in life whether you believe it is God who gave you that mission or you believe that it is just a fact of life that everyone has a mission and purpose. You do not have to be religious to benefit from reading this book.
One of the most important things Bolles writes is that finding your mission in life “is not a problem that can be solved in a day and a night. It is a learning process which has steps to it” (Bolles 9). In our fast-paced society, we often want things to happen quickly and we expect to know exactly what our mission in life is right away. This becomes especially evident when it seems like our peers already have their lives figured out. Bolles realizes this and explicitly says that we need to slow down and accept that finding our life’s mission is a process and will not come immediately.
Everybody is born with or develops unique talents and skills. Bolles emphasizes that we need to study these talents and skills to help us decipher our mission. We spend a lot of time admiring the talents of other people and too often we forget to admire our own. You have unique talents and skills for a reason and that reason is that they relate to what your mission is. You should not only study what your gifts are, but recognize which ones you enjoy using most. These will directly relate to whatever your mission is.
This book is a fantastic resource for those wanting to find more purpose in their life. Often times we are unhappy with our lives because we do not feel like we are doing anything worthwhile or meaningful. Bolles’ book can help you find purpose in your life.
This post kicks off a series of book reviews conducted by our student staff, with the exception of this one. All of the books written about are available in our resource library to read or copy. We are open Monday-Friday, 8:30am-4:30pm and you are always welcome to stop by just to read or study.
So you know we offer Drop-in Hours for resume and cover letter review but you want to get started on your own before you come in? In that case, I recommend picking up Donald Asher’s very helpful book, The Overnight Resume: The Fastest Way to Your Next Job. Asher’s book is divided into sections in which he starts from the very foundation of resume building to polishing your final design. His tone is light-hearted and easy to read, almost as if you were having a conversation with a friend. He offers honest advice and lots of examples to demonstrate exactly what he is suggesting.
His book also includes a section on job searching and interviewing, as well as on writing a cover letter. These chapters are brief as the main focus is on resumes, but they are still very insightful and as he mentions on the cover, can prepare you to “launch a full-scale job search by tomorrow”.
You can come to our Drop-in Hours without anything prepared, but it will maximize your time if you have a rough draft. It can be a very rough draft, but having something to work with can help. If you read and utilize the advice in Asher’s book, you will certainly have a very solid draft for us to review.
By Ashley, Program Assistant in Career Services
This past summer, I had the opportunity to do an REU at Georgia Tech University and Imperial College London working in a material science laboratory (
) . Because University of Portland is mainly a teaching institution, there aren’t too many opportunities to do research with your professors. Through this program, I had the chance to work in a graduate research laboratory in the states and abroad in London. I got to work with graduate students and see what it’s like for them on a day to day basis. I learned a lot about research and decided to eventually pursue graduate school myself!
What’s an REU?
REU stands for Research Experience for Undergraduates. These programs are funded by the NSF (National Science Foundation) and are a great way to get research experience during the summer! Usually you receive a living stipend as well as housing for 8-10 weeks. These programs can be in subjects such as chemistry, engineering and even behavioral sciences. To search for REU opportunities just check out the NSF website:
What do you do during an REU?
You get to choose what research you are interested in and are placed in a lab to be mentored by a professor and a group of graduate students. You’ll learn how to plan, conduct and present scientific research by working on a project of your own. This opportunity will also give you the chance to visit another university and see what it’s like!
How do I apply?
Applications vary for each university! The NSF has all of the universities listed, so you just have to scan through them to see what you might be interested in. Generally, they require a short essay, your transcripts and recommendations. Talk to your professors. They can be great resources and connect you with other students who may have had participated in REUs in the past.
Stay tuned for our series of book reviews next week! You are welcome to visit our resource library anytime during our office hours and we offer free copies!
New places can be intimidating, and often we do our best to just avoid them altogether. This is a natural human response to intimidation and the unknown. Unfortunately, this inhibits us from receiving valuable help and advice that can benefit us in all sorts of ways. If we avoid new places just because we do not know what to expect or how to act, we will never learn new things or branch out of our comfort zones.
I am definitely guilty of sticking to my comfort zone and refusing to try new things. I like my nice bubble where everything is familiar. Coming into the Career Services office for the first time was a big step for me. When I came in to turn in my resume and cover letter, I had absolutely no idea what to expect, and I became tongue tied when it came time for me to talk to the office assistant. Even though it was somewhat embarrassing, I needed that experience to get over my anxiety of new places and new situations. Career Services is one of the friendliest offices on campus and the members of the office will immediately put your nerves at ease. Not only that, but they can also help you in so many ways to be prepared for your future. Since beginning to work at Career Services a month ago, I have already learned so much.
Career Services is a resource on campus that will help you navigate and be prepared for the real world. This office can help you learn to prepare a resume or cover letter, practice for a job interview, find an internship, choose a major or career path, become prepared for a job fair, and help with grad school applications and essays.
I really encourage you to take the step to come into the office. The things I have learned here are invaluable, and I am so thankful that I stepped out of my comfort zone and took the leap into a new experience. I guarantee that you will feel the same way.
Whether you are going to graduate school, looking for a job (or job change), or deciding what the next step is, always make an effort to talk to people who are in the field you intend to pursue a career in. When I had first heard of informational interviewing, I had a hard time putting it into practice because I didn’t think any professionals would be interested in talking to me about their careers and experience. It turns out that, more often than not, if the person is happy with his or her career, they will be receptive to talking to aspiring professionals in their field.
Recently, as I began to think more seriously about graduate school, I realized I needed to put a face to my programs of interest. To create a strong application, I need to know who is going to be reading my application, what their research experience is, what they’ve published, and most importantly how their interests relate to mine. Apart form familiarizing myself with faculty in graduate programs, I have identified people in the field who can be another source of good information. Using my contacts in the field of bilingual education, I came a cross a professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder who is a distinguished leader in her field. Knowing I would be in the area soon, I contacted her to let her know I was interested in her research and simply wanted to talk more about it in person. I mentioned the connections that referred me to her, and she was delighted and even mentioned that she was interested in my undergraduate research (my senior thesis is on the cognitive implications of bilingualism).
I’m taking advantage of an opportunity to further my knowledge about a topic of interest. Though the graduate programs, I’m pursuing are not directly related to this professor’s field, I know that I have nothing to lose by talking to her about her career. Also, the reality is that many graduate programs are very interdisciplinary, so she can point me to people in other departments whose objectives align more closely with mine. Don’t be afraid to engage in conversation with professionals, without an agenda. Take initiative and talk to professors, coworkers, and friends who have connections you can utilize!