The Chronicle Summary: What I Tell My Graduate Students

The Chronicle of Higher Education published an article on March 6 entitled What I Tell My Graduate Students. The author, Dr. Lennard J Davis, is a Professor of English in Chicago, Illinois.

Article Summary

Dr Lennard advises and coaches Masters and PhD students, sitting on review boards and instructing these future educators of America. Throughout his article, he offers his approach to coaching students through thinking about their dissertations and future.

The Process

  • Inform them of the current job situation.
  • Set the bar for the minimum requirements in the academic field.
  • Emphasize the need to have a geological sense of time when it comes to academic publication.
  • Plan their dissertation committees with the job search in mind
  • Advise students to attend professional conferences for a number of reasons.
  • Advise students to write out an envelope with the address of another likely publication at the same time as they send off the first one. When the rejection letters comes, edit the paper and send to the already-addressed second publication. Quick turnaround is fair play.

Six Takeaways

Dr Lennard's approach to advising students, and the advice he gives them, translates into some valuable takeaways for graduate students. Here are the top 6 takeaways from his article:

Plan your education with your future in mind.

When thinking about your area of study or academic focus, do so with a future job in mind. You should follow your passions (ie don't major in business if you're an artist), but try to pick a career in which you can find a job.

Be informed of the realities of the job market in your field.

The job market in the United States is still difficult for many sectors. As you are planning your education, know the realities you will be facing when trying to land a job upon graduation. Informed now is prepared later.

Know what qualifications you need to land a job in your field.

This point goes hand-in-hand with the previous lesson. To be prepared to enter the job-search market, you need to know what potential employers are expecting. This way, you will not be surprised or under-prepared upon graduation. Ask your academic advisor or a trusted mentor in your field to help you out if you don't know where to start this research.

Know your industry's playing field and important influencers.

If you are passionate about your area of interest, you should already know who the important influencers are. We recommend trying to build a personal relationship with them, if possible. Twitter is becoming increasingly good for this, allowing you to interact with influencers on a professional (and eventually personal) level. You should also know the competitiveness of jobs and who is currently hiring, as well as who might be hiring soon or in the future.

Attend conferences and become known.

The best way to get known in your field, to make contacts, and to network in order to find jobs and create a name for yourself is to attend conferences. Use the opportunities given there to learn, and attend the networking events. Pass out business cards (you can print personal cards cheap) and be friendly. You never know, the person sitting next to you may be a CEO looking to hire.


We hope you find the above tips helpful. Do you have any to share? Add them in the comments!