The ACADEMIC REPUTATION category on the left provides information on creating a positive and professional image on and off campus. Tools and tips for building professionalism, creating stellar academic resumes and curriculum vitae, and giving great presentations are all included in this section.
Lets face it… It DOES matter how you are viewed by others in graduate school.
Many graduate students overlook this small detail. With all of the responsibilities that come with grad school, who has time to be worried about how other students and faculty view you? While it is true that putting extra effort personal and professional relationships on campus often slides to the back burner, it can be one of the most important factors in your success.
There are many benefits to cultivating a reliable, studious, and energetic personality on campus and off during your grad program.
- CREATE A NETWORK OF STUDENT ALLIES
Often times, the nature of scholarly training is quite solitary. Students begin to feel isolated by their circumstances, and do not have as much of an opportunity to interact with other students. In addition, particularly rigorous grad programs can breed an air of competition among fellow grad students instead of cooperation. However, student interaction is a key factor in staying motivated and succeeding in graduate school. By reaching out to other students on campus, you will be creating a list of “scholastic allies.” There are often a plethora of opportunities to get involved in study groups, academic clubs, and even student government that grad students tend to ignore. However, by getting involved, even if it is only for a small amount of time, can help you expand your support network. Cultivating relationships with other grad students can give you someone to share your frustrations with, and gives you a sense that you are not alone in the experience. Becoming more socially active on campus can also make your grad school experience more fulfilling and meaningful, creating a more positive attitude and enhancing your chances for success.
It is also important to realize that many of your fellow grad students might become quite successful in academia or in your chosen profession, and their opinion of you may matter now and in the future. They may be in a good position later on to help you by vouching for your character with an employer or university department. I am not suggesting that you should be “overly” concerned with creating a perfect reputation with every grad student in your department. But the more personable you are, and the more open you are to creating new friendships and “scholastic allies,” the more likely you will creating a lasting impression on your fellow peers.
- MAKE AN INDELIBLE IMPRESSION ON FACULTY
Many of the same principles that are used in creating a network of student allies also applies to department faculty. There are many reasons to cultivate professional relationships with professors on campus. A good reputation among the faculty in your department, and especially among professors on your thesis/research committee, can be a huge asset. When your advisers and professors are confident that you will put the maximum amount of effort into your assignments (and turn them in on time), the more likely they will allow you to work more independently. While professors are there to guide you on your path to academic success, at this stage in the game, they do not want to do any hand-holding. Taking responsibility for deadlines, offering assistance to professors when possible, and being a generally enjoyable person to work with, will help you create a lasting impression on your professors. By showing them that you are self-motivated you gain their trust, not only as a student, but also a potential colleague.
The student-professor relationship is a symbiotic one. If your goal is to have a job in academia, a shift in viewpoint might helpful. As a graduate student, you should view faculty in your department as future colleagues, and treat the experience as you would if it were already your career. You need them for their expertise and advice, but professors also need you to help them create a successful professional reputation. For example, while you may believe that bad performance on exams or in research projects only reflect poorly upon you, this is not the case. Your thesis/dissertation advisers may have spent countless hours helping you revise your research and writing techniques. However, if you perform poorly despite all efforts, it reflects poorly on them as well. They WANT you to do well! Not only because they genuinely care, but because it looks good for them to have successful students and can contribute to job security for them. Take advantage of this resource by cultivating a close professional relationship with as many faculty members as possible.
Article by Heather Blanchard
Image Courtesy of: http://www.stockfreeimages.com/ (Reference: Handshake by Yanc )