GSC Conference Webinar Summaries

The AAAL Graduate Student Council hosts a series of events every year during the AAAL annual conference to support the professional development of graduate students as well as to promote an interconnected community amongst graduate students and scholars in the field. Below are brief summaries of the presentations from the pre-conference workshops at the 2021 AAAL conference. You can find the full resources on this page. Summaries contributed by members of the Event Planning Sub-Committee: Lupe Rincon-Mendoza, Maria (Masha) Kostromitina, Blanche Gao, and Fatehmeh Bordbarajavidi

Balancing the Holistic Experience of Being a Graduate Student in 2021

Dr. Ruth Harman

Dr. Harman introduced the idea of three-fold domains of our lives as researchers, including ME (how are you doing?), MESO communities of research and teaching (how are your students, colleagues, and families doing?), and MACRO societal issues (how can I support systemic change?). Dr. Harman used herself as a case to explain how we could use these three domains to better understand ourselves and what could be potential issues. Dr. Harman encouraged us to use humor, focus on relationships, and embrace acceptance of who we are and how we are feeling. We need to “cherish and nourish all three domains in our lives: graduate student, family member, and community activist”. More importantly, “don’t forget to laugh,” said Dr. Harman.

Dr. Matthew Prior

Dr. Prior started the presentation by emphasizing the importance of having a work-life balance, especially for graduate students. Although there might be many challenges in graduate-student life, “grad school is a temporary stop.” Dr. Prior continued by inviting students to be intentional and cultivate sustainable habits. Moreover, it is important to check in with ourselves and treat self-care as a sacred obligation. It is also necessary to search for mentors and develop multiple, healthy relationships within our communities. Dr. Prior said that we need to “work slower but work smarter.” Lastly, graduate students should remember that there are many resources available within universities, online, and in our broader academic communities.

Some thoughts on work-life balance

Dr. Tove Larsson

Dr. Tove Larsson shared her insights on how to maintain a work-life balance in graduate school and beyond. From the very beginning, Dr. Larrson established a very open space where she detailed her experiences with overworking, and how it affected her life and relationships. Outlining the reasons why “deprioritizing” work is so hard, she reminded the viewers of the mental and physical gains from doing so. Based on her experiences, Dr. Larsson offered tips for maintaining a sustainable balance between work and life: setting up rules to distinguish between work time and free time, developing strategies for handling unexpected work situations, being forgiving towards ourselves, and prioritizing tasks based both on their importance and deadlines. How exactly can we start implementing these strategies then? “The first step here is deciding that you actually want to do it,” said Dr. Larrson.

Strategies for interviewing in Ed Tech

Dr. Cindy Berger

In her workshop, Dr. Cindy Berger offered useful strategies for interviewing well when looking for a job in the field of Educational Technology. After giving a brief overview of her background and work experience with Duolingo, Dr. Berger provided “insider tips” for how to nail an interview. She recommended being prepared to complete tasks before or during the interview, demonstrating your teamwork and clear communication skills, and focusing on your projects rather than studies. Dr. Berger also provided a list of additional skills, including time management, creativity, cross-functional collaboration, and resilience to feedback, which would be helpful to highlight during the interview.

Navigating the academic job market

Dr. Kevin Wong

Dr. Wong shared his experience in the job market in terms of job applications, phone interviews, campus visits, and the offer he received. He also shared the application spreadsheet that he made for his job search and the items he included (e.g., school, location, position, etc.). Regarding telephone interviews, he shared tips for answering questions, and he also shared the questions he received for his telephone interview, such as: How do you teach students with diverse needs? What is your research agenda and how do you see yourself developing it in the next 2-5 years? He also shared his experience with the campus visit and the questions that the search committee and the dean asked him. Finally, he shared how to negotiate when receiving an offer. In the end, he recommended a book to read before applying for a job.

navigating the job market & publishing

Dr. Christine Tardy

Dr. Tardy shared some insights in preparing for an interview. After briefly covering the process of applying for an academic job, Dr. Tardy made recommendations on how to prepare for the interview process (e.g., reviewing the job ad, learning about the department, preparing notes and questions for the search committee). Additionally, she stressed the importance of the kinds of questions that prospective candidates should ask when they are interviewed by a search committee. Dr. Tardy provided some insider tips on questions to avoid asking during the interview process, such as asking about the initial starting salary. She concluded by reminding our graduate student community that an interview is an encouraging sign that indicates interest, and that all parties want the interview to end well.

Dr. Bezhad Mansouri

Dr. Mansouri provided his experiences with publishing and selecting the right journal for his work. After providing an overview of some of the common myths and misconceptions of publishing, Dr. Mansouri shared strategies for identifying the proper journal according to your research interests, as well as traps to avoid (e.g., predatory journals, short review processes, unknown publishers). He also provided some tips for finding colleagues to collaborate with.