Your students are developing specialized skills and deep knowledge in their field as part of their graduate school journey. But not every step in their professional development is laid out clearly for them. Students need to foster independence and resourcefulness in identifying ways to advance their development, and as faculty mentors, you can help them get started with these simple steps:
Small Steps for Side Skills
On the path to gaining expertise in their subject matter, students need to pick up many other “side” skills. These skills don’t typically require deep engagement, but they are valuable in supporting and amplifying students’ academic endeavors. Maybe they just want to know a few extra tricks for using Excel or need simple tips to enhance their presentation slides. Adding a formal, and often lengthy, new program or course is not targeted enough and their schedules are already full as is.
Empower your students to take ownership in improving these side skills. Encourage them to seek out small steps through resources and services across campus. During the Graduate College’s Professional Development Week, we are focusing on these small steps by offering one-hour workshops on practical skills including common tools for analyzing data, giving engaging presentations, and more. Find the full schedule on our website.
Step Outside Their Comfort Zone
Research communication is an essential skill for graduate students’ professional development. While you may be more familiar with ways for students to gain experience communicating their research with experts and colleagues in your field, there is an ever-present need for researchers to be able to explain their work and its impact to an audience of non-experts.
Have your students practiced how they will talk about their work to non-experts during job interviews, community outreach events, or when speaking to the media? Effective research communication with the public requires storytelling, eliminating jargon, and crafting simple visuals, which can be a step outside of their comfort zone, especially if they’re used to diving deep into the complexities of their discipline with faculty mentors.
Research Live! offers an opportunity for graduate students to practice and hone their research communication skills with that public audience in mind. The competition challenges grad students to deliver a research talk that is both compelling and informative to a general audience in just 3 minutes.