Professional Development

Mentorship: Learning and Teaching

When you are just starting out in your professional career, you need someone who can teach you the tricks of your trade, so early in your career you should seek out at least one mentor to help you along the way. As you become more experienced in your profession, you can return the favor of the mentorships that you have received by paying them forward and becoming a mentor to younger professionals. Being a part of a mentorship program is important to almost all professions. Through a mentorship program, you can not only learn and teach about your career with others but also create genuine and valuable connections with your professional peers, connections which could turn into partnerships, project opportunities, or references.

How to Learn From a Mentorship Program

Of course, the first step in learning from a mentor is finding one. You should maintain academic relationships with professors from both your undergraduate and graduate courses. You could also stay in touch with other administrators whom you liked and who taught you the most about their career experiences. You probably have had multiple professors who either previously or currently worked in a career that you are entering. Check back with these people from time to time to learn from their experiences in the professional world.

They could become invaluable to your career later on down the line. Also, be on the lookout for more opportunities to learn from superiors in your first position. Try to establish a relationship with your boss outside of work (if you get along well with and feel like you could genuinely learn a lot from this person). If you take an interest in someone else’s life, he or she is more likely to take an interest in yours as well. Also, keep an open mind, and consider a wide variety of professionals as a possible mentor.

How to Be a Mentor

Later on in your professional life, be sure to give back to the younger members of your profession by helping them in their career paths. Just because you rank higher than do other people in your workplace doesn’t mean that you can’t have real friendships with them and teach them everything you know about the business. Fostering a mentorship to someone is very rewarding in several different ways. Keep in mind that being a mentor in not all about answering questions and trying to give your mentee shortcuts in the corporate ladder. Instead, mentors and mentees should share stories and challenge each other’s professional growth. Being a mentor is all about the growth of both individuals involved in the mentorship. Be honest, constructive, and insightful when your mentee asks you for an evaluation of himself or herself. Mentoring a younger professional in your office is a good way to always keep your name in the thoughts of your managers whenever an opportunity for promotion arises because your managers will see that you are capable of establishing successful relationships not only with professional superiors and equals but also with inferiors.

 
 
 
 
 

Writing a Cover Letter for a CV

A cover letters for a CV should be submitted with any job application that requires resumes and CV because cover letters complement and support resumes and CV. You can use cover letters to introduce yourself to potential employers, to explain how you heard about and why you are interested in their companies, to supplement the information in your resumes and CV, and to politely request interviews. Cover letters are formatted the same as are other business letters: a single page with at least 1” margins on all sides; 12-point, single-spaced serif font; and your contact information at the top followed by the date, the contact information of potential employers at the companies to which you are applying, the subject of the letter, and the formal salutation to the potential employers. The remaining information in a cover letter for a CV is divided into three paragraphs (without indentation) that are separated by a single space: the introduction paragraph, the body paragraph, and the conclusion paragraph.

Introduction

In the introduction paragraph, you briefly introduce yourself, how you heard about the open position, and why you are interested in working for that particular company. For the introduction paragraph, you will need to research information about each company to which you apply, so each application will have its own unique cover letter that you will specifically tailor with information you gather in your research.

Body

In the body paragraph of a cover letter for a CV, you partially explain what qualifies you for the position at the company to which you are applying and how your skills would benefit the company. This information should supplement, not replace, the information you included when writing a CV. You want to tell potential employers enough about yourself so that they are interested in you, but you want to leave room for more explanation so that potential employers will want to call you in for interviews. The body paragraph is also a good place to explain (but not to focus intensely on) any unusual information in your resumes and CV, such as large gaps in employment and unique areas of research. If the quantity of this information and your experience dictates doing so, you could divide the body paragraph into two separate paragraphs. However, you should still try to limit your cover letter to one, single-spaced page because potential employers might discard your resumes and CV before they even read these documents if the first thing they see are long, dense, wordy cover letters with your applications.

Conclusion

In the conclusion paragraph, you briefly summarize the information that you presented before, and you issue a request for action from potential employers (i.e., you ask them to call you in for an interview). You should restate your preferred contact information (email or phone number). You should also politely state that if you are not contacted by a specific date, then you will call to check on the status of your application, which (if done correctly) might entice potential employers to contact you before you contact them.

You should end your cover letter for a CV with a formal farewell, your signature, and your typed name. At the bottom of the letter, you should create an enclosure line stating what documents you are submitting with the cover letter (resumes, CV, etc.).

Professional Etiquette

How is Professional Etiquette in the Workplace different than in Graduate School?

If you’ve just landed your first position after graduate school, you might be unsure of how exactly to behave in the professional world. However, you’ve probably already mastered most of these behaviors while you were in graduate school. In general, it’s a good idea to act as you did in your interview until you get a feel for your coworkers and your office environment. After a few months, you will fit right in and know what is allowed by your superiors. Emulate a coworker who has found favor with your management, and avoid reflecting any behaviors that offend you or your boss. The most important things to consider in regards to professional etiquette are courtesy to others, confidence in yourself, and general politeness.

Tips on Professional Etiquette in the Workplace:

Conversation

Intently listen to others when you are speaking to someone at work. Look them in the eye, and don’t constantly look away or fidget with anything. Keep a steady and clear voice with a pleasant tone. Consider who the other person is before you engage in topics besides work. Be aware of body language to know if you are talking about something your coworker doesn’t care about! If you are talking to a superior, make sure you stay short and to the point. If you are talking on the phone, avoid anything that anyone might find distracting or offensive.

Introductions and Handshakes

When shaking hands with a boss or a new acquaintance, be firm but not aggressive or crushing. A comfortable duration is a few seconds. Look the other person in the eye and avoid using two hands or patting them on the back at the same time, which can be too invasive for some people. When meeting someone, make sure you are standing, and repeat the person’s name immediately after he or she says it. You could offer a kind word about looking forward to working with him or her or welcoming him or her to the company.

Vacations and Lunches

Again, it’s a good idea to get a good feel for the business and your coworkers’ before considering time off. Get to know how everyone reacts when someone takes a two-hour lunch, especially learning your management’s opinion about such things. Establish what is acceptable on your first day of work. Always let your boss know at least a week ahead if you plan on taking a half day off for a dentist appointment or a similar scheduled necessity. You should know your employer’s policy regarding paid and unpaid days off. However, before you take a day off, make sure to talk with your supervisor about whether it will be paid and about how it will affect your remaining days off for the year.

Dressing

Every employer has a clear dress code policy, so go over this thoroughly before your first day of work. Keep in mind comfort and presentation while you are shopping for your new work clothes. You probably already gained a good idea about how others dress when you went in to interview. Remember to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. Make sure you always wear something you wouldn’t be ashamed of if you saw your CEO. Look professional, but avoid anything too casual or revealing.

Internet and Emails

Keep in mind that many employers have a right to monitor what their employees do online and may even read your email correspondences. Therefore, never do something that you would be ashamed for everyone in your workplace to see. In terms of email communication, stay professional by using appropriate salutations of Dear (name) or Hi (name). Also, end your emails appropriately by including your name and contact information. Keep everything short and to the point, and avoid nonwork topics.

General

Always coming to work on time is a must. You should consistently follow the time requirements you discussed with the hiring personnel; establish appropriate times of work with a superior if you have not done this already. Keep a comfortable distance between yourself and coworkers in meetings and conversations. Be considerate if you are a smoker, and look up your employer’s policies toward smoking breaks and areas. Spend little to no outside time doing personal things, especially if you have just started your first corporate position. In general, be professional, and let your actions show your superiors that you deserve a promotion or a higher salary. Whether you work in academia or industry, do not be that coworker about whom everyone complains and laughs whenever you leave the room!

Keeping these professional etiquette tips in mind when starting your new position may put you on the right track for success!

How to Publish a Dissertation or Thesis

You have probably spent months or maybe even years working on your most impressive academic feat - your thesis or dissertation. Now that you have finished defending your work to your committee, you may have trouble finally letting it go. Publishing is a hard validation of your countless hours of effort. Below, find tips to on how to publish a dissertation and make the decisions as easy as possible.

Deciding Whether to Publish

Most importantly, take an objective look at your own paper and how you feel towards it. If you have become burned out or have lost passion for this subject, you probably shouldn’t consider publishing your thesis or dissertation right away. While the initial writing phase takes massive amounts of your time and energy, the process of how to publish a dissertation may involve as much or even more of your time revisiting every aspect of your paper. Also, it might not be worth your time if you have decided not to pursue a career in the academic or research field. Finally, could you honestly see other peers in your field wanting to buy your paper? Take a look online to see what kind of interest other papers similar to yours are drawing from academics.

Book or Journal Publication?

By now, you have probably become very familiar with the difference between scholarly publications as presented in an entire book or periodical form. However, first you should talk to several peers who have experience on how to publish a dissertation of their own. Seek out those on your thesis or dissertation committee, currently or formerly published authors, and your professors about the pros and cons of pursuing a book deal or journal publication. In general, scientific and psychological articles are published in periodic journals, as new information in these fields can be important in the here and now for colleagues and therefore time sensitive. On the other hand, cultural and historic studies are better suited for book publications, as these kinds of fields are about fully informing the reader on the subject and would only interest those in a very specific field who would want to purchase the material. Lastly, consider the length of your work, as this can play a role in your decision.

Publisher Relations

Take some time to research the publishers out there and consider what companies are publishing works that are most similar to your own. Keep in mind that the most generic publishers don’t often delve into research, so stick to academic publishers. After you have sent out a brief synopsis of your work to several companies, wait four to six months before seriously considering signing with a specific company. Many of these publishers review thousands of aspiring writers’ papers every year, so be patient when waiting to hear back.

 
 
 

Resumes and Curriculum Vitae

As you transition from your career as a graduate student to your career in your chosen field, you will need to create either a resume, a curriculum vita (CV), or both (depending on the positions for which you are applying) to market yourself to potential employers. Having a professionally designed resume or CV can help your application stand out from a pile of others and can potentially help you land your dream position, so it is important that you understand how to create resumes or CV. First, you must understand what information is included and how that information is organized in each document. Resumes and CV are somewhat similar in concept and design, but there are a few important distinctions between these types of documents. You can use the following descriptive lists to familiarize yourself with the conceptual distinctions between resumes and CV.

Resumes

• Audience = typically nonacademics
• Length = 1–2 pages
• Position-driven with information primarily focused on professional experiences
• Organized, clear language, consistent
• Reverse chronological order
• Variety of font formatting to organize headings and information
• Bullets beginning with active verbs in sentence fragments, which make potential employers want to interview you so that you can elaborate
• Sentence fragments briefly state that you did something that resulted in something
• Submitted with a cover letter

CV

• Audience = typically academics but can also be used outside of academia if the position requires extensive educational experience
• Length = however many pages are necessary to fully describe academic experiences
• Article-driven with information primarily focused on academic experiences
• Organized, clear language, consistent
• Reverse chronological order
• Variety of font formatting to organize headings and information
• Bullets beginning with active verbs in sentence fragments, which make potential employers what to interview you so that you can elaborate
• Sentence fragments briefly state that you did something that resulted in something
• Submitted with a cover letter

Armed with this basic information about resumes and writing a CV, you are ready to use a template for a resumes or CV to familiarize yourself with the visual and organizational design of these documents and to start creating your own.

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