Communication Skills

Whether planning to enter the academic or alternative-academic sphere, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars need to develop professional communication skill in a variety of media in addition to the scholarly written word. Areas where development will help you stand out include public speaking, slideshow design, online professional profile development, professional portfolio material (cover letter, resume, curriculum vitae, contributions to diversity statement, teaching statement and portfolio, research statement), and website design. The Graduate Division provides the Graduate Student Professional Communication Certificate Program in the fall and offers most of the classes on an individual basis, often each quarter. The certificate program is open to graduate students only, who must commit to the weekly series in the fall. The individual workshops are open to both graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and are offered primarily in the fall, with a few repeated in winter and spring. Topics include the following.

Scholarly Writing

Explore the Writing Resources available to graduate students. From the VOCES Writing Center to the Graduate Student Commons Writing Together support group to the Graduate Division subscription to Grammarly Premium, graduate students have a wealth of writing support.

Academic Publishing

The University Library hosts regular classes on citing and organizing sources, publishing academic work, copyright, and more. Consult the University Library calendar of events. Additionally, the Graduate Division, University Library, and The Humanities Institute partner to bring publishing instruction to graduate students in the Graduate Student Commons and via the Professional Communication Certificate Program and The Humanities Institute’s PhD+ series.

Developing Your Professional Reputation

Although many prefer not to apply the terms brand and marketing to people, these words serve as synonyms for the concept of developing and spreading (through networking) your professional reputation. In the information age, your professional reputation extends beyond academic work and publishing to the way you present yourself online (social media, websites, blogs) and in person (teaching, networking, presenting, speaking, interviewing). Recognizing the need for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars to present a consistent professional message about themselves in all media they choose to use, the Graduate Division works with University Relations, ITS, the Career Center, and other units to instruct on best practices for using LinkedIn and Twitter, creating a website, and more.

Crafting Job Search Material

Both the academic and alternative-academic job search require creating numerous documents, at a minimum a cover letter and resume for an industry job search. An academic job search requires a cover letter and curriculm vitae (CV) and often a contributions to diversity statement, and, depending on the position, a teaching philosophy and/or research statement. The Graduate Division works with Career Success, the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and faculty to provide classes and workshops on these documents.

Public Speaking

Training in public speaking improves teaching, leading meetings, presenting, such as at conferences and symposia, and interviewing. Public speaking workshops occur throughout the academic year, with some timed to help prepare for Grad Slam, the Graduate Research Symposium, and the Postdoctoral Research Symposium.

Slide Design

Most presentations currently include slideshows, but too often novice presenters violate slide design principles, causing metaphorical “death by PowerPoint.” The Graduate Division hosts a talk on slide design principles to keep audience attention and improve retention of information.

Website Design

Faculty, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students have free access to WordPress. Classes to familiarize graduate students and postdoctoral scholars with WordPress also cover website design principles.

Creating Videos

To enter Grad Slam, a communication contest held annually by the Graduate Division at the end of winter quarter, currently enrolled graduate students submit a video of their presentations for the preliminary round to determine the ten to twelve finalists for the live event. But beyond Grad Slam, creating a video about graduate endeavor makes an excellent addition to a professional profile website and YouTube channel and can potentially assist with other career-advancing situations, such as rounding out a job application portfolio or being part of an application to present at a conference.