Helen Pho, Associate Director
Next week, I’m heading to Madison, WI for the national conference of the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC), and I’m really looking forward to it. The GCC is a national organization for professionals who serve as graduate career advisers, basically people like me. When I was a doctoral student, I attended and presented at academic conferences where junior and senior scholars would often read academic papers out loud during panel sessions. These conferences can be stressful for graduate students because many were also interviewing for jobs at the same site.
When I became a graduate and postdoc career adviser, I was intrigued yet a little nervous about what a conference for graduate career advisers would look like. Would it be people reading papers again? Would there be a sense of anxiety among conference attendees? Happily, my first professional conference was nothing like the academic conferences I was used to attending. At my first GCC conference last summer, I had a blast meeting other graduate career advisers working all over the United States and Canada, and it quickly became my favorite conference that I’ve ever attended. I learned a lot about best practices for graduate career advising from attending different workshop presentations and chatting with colleagues at the poster session. (If you’re in the humanities and have never seen a poster session, it’s when a large group of presenters would stand next to their giant posters and talk about their research or ideas to attendees wandering around the session.) Most of all, the GCC is a very friendly and collegial group of professionals; everyone is eager to share best practices and ideas, and people love to talk to each other, which is not surprising considering the work we do!
As I prepare for my conference, I wanted to share three things I’m doing to be conference ready next week:
- Review the conference schedule. Conference schedules are often released before the event takes place, so take some time to go over what the days will entail. Like many conferences, there are often concurrent sessions and events, meaning you have to pick and choose which sessions you want to attend. If you spend some time ahead of the conference to make those decisions, that means you’ll have more time at the conference to network and chat with people.
- Set goals for the conference. Related to the first point, I like to think about what I want to get out of the conference before I arrive, when it’s often a bit hectic and slightly overwhelming with hundreds of people in attendance. For my goals this year, I’d love to chat with colleagues at other institutions to learn what they’re doing to help PhDs explore expanded careers in fun and interactive ways, and to hear how other institutions are supporting their first-gen grad students, since these are priorities in our work here. Spending just a small amount of time to identify goals for the conference beforehand will allow me to focus on attending relevant panels and talking to colleagues who are doing exciting work in this area before the conference flies by!
- Identify people with whom you’d like to connect or reconnect. The GCC conference has over 200 attendees, and although I would love to talk with everyone, it’s simply impossible to do so in a span of three days! There are many people whom I met last summer that I’d love to reconnect with as well as people that I’ve never met before that I’d love to meet in person. For example, I’ve been working on a subcommittee to help market ImaginePhD, a career exploration and planning tool designed for PhDs in the humanities and social sciences. (If you don’t know what it is, visit imaginephd.com!) We’ve had virtual meetings via video over the last year, so I’m excited to finally meet my fellow subcommittee members in person at the conference! Thinking ahead of people you’d like to meet will allow you to not only have a productive conference but an enjoyable one as well!
If you’re a graduate student planning to attend a professional conference anytime in the future, come meet with a career adviser. We’re happy to help you prepare for networking both within and beyond academia!
We’re excited to welcome Dr. Melinda G. Nelson-Hurst, Ph.D to @PennCareerDay on Tuesday, March 12th. Throughout the week of March 11th, we’re going to focus on careers in education from K-12 to policymaking to research, as a follow up to our Education and Social Services Career Day on February 27th. To learn more about Dr. Nelson-Hurst’s bio read below, and be sure to follow her on the 12th!
Dr. Melinda G. Nelson-Hurst is a research associate in the Department of Anthropology and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Classical Studies at Tulane University. She completed her Ph.D. in Egyptology (Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Graduate Group) at the University of Pennsylvania, where her doctoral work and publications focused on the social history of the Middle Kingdom period of Ancient Egypt. This work particularly centered on the part that family played in shaping the administration of the period, as well as on the social and religious roles that different family members fulfilled.
Since 2012, she has been conducting a research project on the “Tulane Mummies” collection at Tulane University (a small collection that includes multiple Egyptian artifacts, as well as two mummies). This most recent project has brought her Egyptological background together with new research into the modern history of the Egyptian artifacts now at Tulane – and into the history of the discipline of Egyptology itself – in order to answer questions about this enigmatic collection.
As both a research associate and an adjunct assistant professor, Dr. Nelson-Hurst’s time at Tulane University is typically divided between teaching and research on a variety of topics. However, during the current semester she is focusing entirely on research, most especially that on Tulane’s Egyptian collection.
There are a wide range of opportunities for alumni, undergrads, grads and ph.ds alike. This semester we have highlighted a ton of these options through our alumni on @PennCareerDay. To check out their feeds, visit our Storify page here. We are excited to wrap up our semester by looking at life in Business Development at The Dow Chemical Company with alum, Matt Quale, on Tuesday, April 24th! Matt will discuss a day in his life, and will address how he collaborates with Ph.D’s that chose industry over academe. To learn more about Matt, read his bio below and remember to follow him on your last day of class!
Matt Quale is a Business Development Leader in the Ventures & Business Development group at The Dow Chemical Company. Matt is responsible for rapidly assessing and cultivating strategically enabling technologies and new business opportunities to drive Dow’s growth strategies. As the commercial lead on a collaborative team including a technology and finance partner, Matt focuses on the commercial aspects of new business development projects including market evaluation, industry trends, risk assessment and business model development.
Leading up to his current role, Matt graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998 with a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering and joined ExxonMobil where he worked on hydroprocessing research. In 2000, Matt joined the Rohm and Haas Electronic Materials Business where he worked on Product Development, Technical Service, and Plant Support for the slurry products used in processing semiconductor wafers. Then in 2005 he moved to the Coatings Business where he led two process development groups. In 2009, Matt received an MBA from Villanova University and became the Global Process Automation Technology Leader for Dow Coating Materials (Dow acquired Rohm and Haas in April of 2009) where he led a global team of Process Automation practitioners.
Outside of work Matt serves on the Penn Engineering Alumni Society Board and enjoys photography, playing volleyball and soccer, and spending time outdoors with his wife and daughter.
Starting the week of September 26th, the Grad & Postdoc team kicked off their annual event, the Academic Career Conference, for the graduate students and postdocs here at Penn. The whole week, we have been highlighting resources through our social media channels on the academic job market. To shed additional light on life in academia, we’re excited to have alum Stephen Schueller, Ph.D, contribute to @PennCareerDay on Twitter on Thursday, October 6th. To learn more about Stephen, please read his bio below, and remember to follow him on the 6th!
Stephen Schueller (Ph.D. in Psychology, Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences ’11) is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California, San Francisco in the Department of Psychiatry. He started his graduate work at Penn in 2005 after receiving his bachelor’s in psychology from the University of California, Riverside. During his undergraduate, he worked as a research assistant studying happiness from a psychological perspective. At Penn, he trained as a researcher and clinician while working towards a doctorate in clinical psychology.
Through his research and clinical experiences, he became convinced that psychological treatments reach far too few and that expanding the reach of psychology would involve not just training more psychologists but creating innovative interventions. These interests brought him to UCSF Medical School. As a clinical researcher at UCSF, he has the opportunity to conduct research in an applied setting. He provides individual and group therapy in the public sector at San Francisco General Hospital. His current research studies the use of the Internet and health information technology to provide interventions that promote psychological health and behavior change.