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  • A person sits in their home and works on a laptop and takes notes.

    3 Quick Everyday Tips for Surviving & Thriving on Zoom

    Zoom fatigue is real. We share a few quick tips for before, during, and after online meetings that you can do to avoid burnout.

  • Talking about your work

    5 Tips for Talking about Your Work

    So, what do you do?

    This is a question graduate students hear frequently—whether from scholars in their field, people in an elevator, or family members. And while at first the answer might seem simple—it’s what you do every day, after all—finding ways to frame and explain your work to others can be a challenge. Thinking about your answer to this question is important since there are many situations when you might need to answer it: applying for fellowships or funding to support your work, job interviews or networking events, interviews with the media, or discussions with political leaders regarding policy. And recently, several UI students found themselves confronted with this question when former President Obama made an impromptu coffeehouse stop during his visit to campus!

    Below are some tips for talking about your work to help you prepare no matter the situation.

  • Student in dark shirt with stars sits on the quad and studies.

    5 Ways to Not Get Intimidated & Overwhelmed When Applying to Graduate School

    University of Illinois bioengineering graduate students share their top five tips for applying to graduate school.

  • Month in Wellness

    A Month in Wellness with Katherine Hatcher

    Katherine Hatcher founded her blog and Instagram account, "Grad Self-Care" in October 2018 as a way to share her story about health and wellness in graduate school. Through it, she connected with countless other graduate students from around the country who are working to find their own meaning of work-life balance. In this post, Katherine shares with us her monthly wellness routine and tips for setting up and sticking to your own. 

  • An Insider's Guide to Acing Your Thesis Format Review

    When writing a thesis, most students are focused on the content – and rightfully so! You want to make sure chapters are well researched and well written, the citations are placed correctly, and all of the data is recorded and analyzed. Formatting is probably one of the last things you think of. But paying careful attention to the overall look of your work is a key element to creating a polished and professional-looking thesis. The Graduate College Thesis Office is here to help!

  • An Internship Can Help Change the Direction of Your Career

    Should you do an internship in grad school? Kristin Divis says “Yes!” and once you hear her story, it’s easy to understand why.

    This summer, after graduating with a PhD in Psychology from Illinois, Divis started an exciting, full-time job at Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia is also, as it turns out, where she’d worked as an intern for several years while in grad school.

    I spoke with Divis earlier this year, shortly before she graduated and not long after she accepted that full-time offer. She wanted to share her reasons for doing an internship, what she learned, and why you should consider doing one, too. Here’s what she had to say...

  • Applying for Fellowships: Telling the "Story of You"

    When applying for fellowships, you may be asked to provide a personal statement, professional goals statement, or something similar.

    A personal statement gives you an opportunity to elaborate on and offer context for information contained in other documents, such as a résumé, CV, research statement, or letters of reference. It gives you a chance to write the story of you:  experiences that have motivated you, people who have inspired you, ideas you’ve pursued, and choices you’ve made. I’ll offer some strategies for approaching these kinds of statements, but first are some suggestions for what to avoid.

  • Bringing the Magic of Iranian Music to the Heartland

    The University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign is home to a highly diverse student body and their respective student associations, which aim to cultivate and share with each other their music, food, art and traditions.

    In this piece, we feature an event organized by the Iranian Cultural Association (ICA) on our campus during the Spring 2019 semester. ICE hosted Kayhan Kalhor, a globally recognized musician from Iran known for his transcendental music and for his ensemble collaborations with other musicians across the globe. Kalhor is known to play several instruments in particular the Kamancheh and the Setar. This event was made possible by the ICA along with support from Center for South Asian & Middle Eastern Studies and several other units on campus. 

  • Broadening the Reach of Comedy in CU

    Stephanie Brown always thought she’d go back to grad school to get her PhD “eventually,” the winner of the 2018 Graduate Student Leadership Award said. But a few years working in the entertainment industry in LA and New York convinced her that the time was right. It would be several years until the #MeToo sexual assault awareness campaign took off in late 2017, but for Stephanie, enough was enough. 

    Stephanie is a PhD candidate in the Institute of Communications Research at Illinois. This semester, she’s wrapping up her dissertation and plans to defend this summer. When she’s not exploring issues of gender in comedy for her research, she’s living them. Stephanie founded and runs Broad Comedy, a local comedy group in Champaign-Urbana that is dedicated to diversifying voices in the local stand-up comedy scene.  

  • Building Community in Graduate School

    By starting a graduate program at the University of Illinois, you have joined a large, vibrant community of people committed to exploring and understanding the world. You’re surrounded every day by tens of thousands of fascinating, dedicated, and creative people.

    Within such a large and dynamic community, though, it can sometimes be challenging to connect with others. You may be wondering how to find those connections and build relationships with people around you. Good news, though: everyone else is wondering the same thing.

  • Cher. Definitely, Cher: LLM Student Wins First Place at Illinois Global Talent Show

    LLM student Marie Joe Noon won first prize at the inaugural Illinois Global Talent Show for her vocal performance of "I Have Nothing" by Whitney Houston. Annie caught up with Marie after the show to learn about her singing inspiration (definitely Cher), her hometown, and how singing translates to confidence in the courtroom.

  • Watch the full webinar online.

    Coping with Compassion Fatigue

    Dr. Tara Powell's recent Zoom workshop on "Self-care, Preventing Burnout and Compassion Fatigue" struck a chord with over 1000 people in the university community, maxing out the potential registrants for a Zoom meeting. That's not surprising during these strange times when many people are doubling down on efforts to check-in (virtually or in-person) on friends and family members who are struggling. Powell offers some tips for those in caregiver roles during the COVID19 pandemic, but they are applicable in our everyday lives as well. 

  • Copyright and Your Thesis

    Copyright can be a tricky topic for students working on their theses. With complex contractual language and so many rules and exceptions, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Luckily, University of Illinois Copyright Librarian Sara Benson is here to help!

  • Courtney Richardson's Transformation of Historical Information

    Doctoral student Courtney Richardson reads aloud her award-winning 2020 Image of Research entry and shares how she created it.

  • Person with compass on campus at the Hallene Gateway.

    Creating a Roadmap for Graduate School Success

    Grad school is stuffed with opportunities. This blog will help you start creating your roadmap in 4 simple steps!

  • Creative and Collaborative: Trying out Careers in Publishing

    I recently had the opportunity to participate in a “Try-It-Out Experience” through the Grad College Career Development Office and the University of Illinois Press. This one-day professional development opportunity provides graduate students with a focused goal-setting session, industry connections, and the chance to explore new-to-them career paths.

  • Feel like you are drowning? The Counseling Center can help.

    Feel Like You're Drowning? The Counseling Center Can Help

    I’ve tried to start this blog post a dozen times, but every time, I get bogged down in the introduction. The thing is, for a lot of reasons and for a lot of people, it can be hard to talk about mental health. And that’s a problem because mental health is vital to our overall health and well-being as graduate students and people. But not talking about mental health can be incredibly isolating. This is especially the case when you are a graduate student experiencing severe anxiety, depression, or suicide ideation. It’s easy to feel like you are alone and no one is going to be able to understand what you are going through or be able to help you through to the other side.

    Let me start by saying, unequivocally, you are not alone. I know this because I’ve been there. With a lot of support and encouragement in the last year, I found helpful, supportive faces at the Counseling Center and at McKinley Health Center. These are just two of the resources available to you as a graduate student at Illinois, and for a lot of students, they are a good first step in the path to addressing and managing mental health problems and coping with the stress of life.

  • Hands typing on keyboard of laptop

    Fellowship Tips: Crafting a Good Research Question

    A typical fellowship application contains many components of varying lengths, yet it’s the shortest component — the research question — that’s the most important. Without a strong and explicitly-stated research question, a funding proposal never gets off the ground. So, what constitutes a good research question?

  • Fellowships: Getting your ducks in a row

    Finding Funding Opportunities: Insights from a Current PhD Student

    Funding is one of the biggest factors in determining what kind of financial decisions you make as a graduate student. Taking on federal student loans, using your employment to fund your degree, using your savings, getting help from family members, etc. We all want to make decisions that will benefit us most - and while the above are all good options depending on your individual situation, nothing beats “free money” like fellowships, assistantships, grants and scholarships. As a former fourth time Foreign Language and Areas Studies (FLAS) Fellowship recipient, current Illinois Distinguished Fellow, and Graduate Assistant, I have searched and applied for many funding opportunities during my college career. It is a long but worthy process. Below are six tips on how to find and secure funding.

  • Cartoon of Sherlock Holmes searching for answers

    Five Questions for a Successful First Year

    As you settle in, it’s a good idea to start learning more about your program and thinking about what goals you want to accomplish while at Illinois. One of the best ways to understand departmental and professional expectations is to connect with your academic support network.

  • Four Ways to Make Your Research Presentation Stand Out

    It’s after midnight, you’re taking a quick look at the slides for your research presentation the next morning, and you have this distressing thought: “I think my research is interesting, but will anyone else?” No one wants years of hard work to be met with blank stares or a fascinating discovery to be dismissed by wandering minds. Your research is interesting, but how do you get people to realize that?

  • Fred: How a Cartoon Mouse Became a Grad Student’s Mascot

    Graduate school looks different for each graduate student, but all graduate careers come with ups, downs, and all that happens in between. In this post, recent Bioengineering doctoral graduate, Parinaz Fathi, introduces us to an unexpected aspect of her PhD experience, an illustrated mouse named Fred.

  • Person rides a magic carpet shaped like a dollar bill trailed by money led by a piggy bank over the University of Illinois campus.

    Funding Graduate School

    Graduate school is one of the most important investments in your future you can make, To ensure that you invest wisely, it's essential thatyou identify your main expenses, as well as develop a funding plan and a budget. Think of this as planting the seeds for a successful financial future in graduate school. It’s important to start thinking about these financial questions early and to seek out University resources that can help answer your questions.  

  • Get an Early Start on this Year's Fellowship Applications

    Are you thinking of applying for an external fellowship or grant this fall? If so, summer is a great time to strengthen your application’s foundation. There are many things you can do over the summer to give yourself an all-important competitive edge.   

  • Getting Ready for Your First Conference Presentation

    Conference presentations are a curious genre. While they can draw from seminar papers, lab reports, and/or research proposals, moving from a written text to a spoken one—and delivering your work—can present a range of unique challenges. 

    Below are some tips and tricks that can help you get in the mindset of giving a conference talk, especially if you’re new to sharing your work in this way.

  • Jay Lopez

    Get to Know Recreation, Sport & Tourism Online Master’s Student, Jay Lopez

    Meet Jay Lopez, an online master’s student in Recreation, Sport & Tourism. Jay lives and works in Long Beach, California, with his wife, Emily, and their two young children.

  • Get to Know the Scholarly Commons

    During open hours, the Scholarly Commons provides the technology and digital scholarship expertise you need to succeed in your research. We’re also a quiet comfortable study space where you can sip your coffee and use software like STATA, Photoshop, and SAS. Come to our workshops during the school year and go from Regular Boring Researcher to Savvy Researcher.

  • Giving Names to the Dead: Building the Philippines' First Skeletal Reference Collection

    Matthew Go, PhD student in Anthropology, spots it tucked into the foundation of a building on the grounds of a cemetery in Manila. An old rice sack, bulging in place and covered in dirt and grime, partially decomposing. Inside, a jumbled collection of bones showing their age and exposure to the elements.

    Matt and fellow Illinois Anthropology PhD student, Amanda Lee, spent last summer in Manila creating the world’s first reference collection comprised exclusively of contemporary Filipino skeletons. Their salvage archaeology work and the new collection, housed at the University of the Philippines Diliman, may potentially help identify victims of criminal cases, mass disasters, mass fatality events, and mass graves throughout Southeast Asia.

  • Going on the Market? Time to Get Started on those Applications

    Back to school is almost back. Soon, it’ll be time to put away the sunscreen and dust off your research. Time to fold up that beach umbrella and pull out those freshly sharpened pencils. With the start of a new semester, you may find yourself busy to bursting with things to do—new classes to prep and new deadlines to meet—but now is also a great time to get ready for the academic job market.

  • Grading is the Worst & Why Being a URAP Graduate Mentor Is Valuable

    The Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program connects undergraduates who are new to research with experienced graduate students who mentor them through the research process. 

  • People sitting and concentrating at tables with paper and laptops by a white board with the text Writers Workshop Grad Writing Productivity Group.

    How Good Writing Habits Lead to Short- & Long-term Payoffs

    The Illinois Writers Workshop's Carolyn Wisniewski answers 5 questions about the Workshop and shares why writing is an essential part of the research process. 

  • Nitasha Zoom Friends

    How to Defend Your Dissertation, Virtually: Tips on Preparing, Presenting, and Celebrating from a New PhD

    On March 24, one day after in-person meetings and instruction at the university were halted and moved online due to the coronavirus pandemic, Nitasha Mathayas earned a new title: PhD. She delivered her dissertation defense—on students’ sensemaking using gesture-augmented simulations—via Zoom to her committee of Curriculum & Instruction faculty, her family, and friends. Over the next several weeks, many doctoral students will face the same situation. Here, Nitasha shares her experience and advice for holding a successful virtual dissertation defense.

  • How to Enhance Your Personal Brand Online this Summer

    Remember in the early 2000s when we used to create online pseudonym usernames like “plantlover101” or “sillys0pran0” for internet safety? Fast-forward to 2020, where personal branding is now one of the best tools to market yourself. Long gone are the days where you’ll be advised to hide social media accounts from employers - and why should you? They paint a picture of who you are as a scholar and as a person, too. But personal branding is a scary term. How do you embody a form of corporate personhood without hiding your authentic and multi-faceted self? The answer sounds too good to be true: You don’t have to!

  • How to Find Fellowships That Are Right for You

    Let’s talk funding.

    Maybe you've heard someone say, “There’s a lot of money out there, you just have to look for it,” and thought to yourself, "Great, but where do I look?" Don't worry - we've got you. Our brand new Fellowship Finder database is now live. It showcases over 1,100 fellowship and grant opportunities that help students fund their graduate studies, and it features a new search process, with lots of options to make your search quicker and more precise.

    Fellowship Finder specializes in awards offered by external funders: government agencies, private foundations, corporations, and other entities outside of the university. We also include a handful of campus opportunities such as those offered by the Graduate College. Best of all, Fellowship Finder is a curated database, meaning that real people (we here in the Office of External Fellowships) make sure that the listings we include are truly useful to graduate students.

    How does the database work? Let’s take a look.

  • A computer file directory with funny names.

    How to Keep Track of Your Stuff or Four Horror Stories in Two Parts

    PART II: My file management horror stories and how they taught me to manage my data like a pro. 

  • A comic about naming and resaving a document.

    How to Keep Track of Your Stuff or Four Horror Stories in Two Parts

    PART I: My file management horror stories and how they taught me to manage my data like a pro. 

  • Illustration of a a diverse group of leaders

    Leadership Award Winners Share What Inspires Their Service

    We caught up with the recipient and honorees of the 2020 Graduate Student Leadership Award to ask what inspired them to pursue leadership roles and what is most rewarding about their experience. Their responses are compassionate and inspiring.

  • Learn a New Skill (or a New Language!) for Free this Summer

    Summer “Break” can be a definite misnomer when you are a grad student. You may not be sitting in class or teaching section, but experiments, research, and writing don’t stop just because the academic year has come to a close. Even though you’re still busy, the change of schedule for summer can make it a great time to develop skills you need to be successful in graduate school. Whether you’re trying to master an old skill or need to pick up programming/conversational French/business-plan-writing or any of hundreds of other skills you can think of – the university has free and/or low-cost tools to help you get the job done. Read on for some of the services you should take advantage of before school’s back in session.

  • Woman staring at a computer screen, biting a pencil in frustration

    Lessons From a Grad Student Job Search Support Group

    This Spring, Mike Firmand started the first-ever job search support group for graduate students at the University of Illinois. Here's what Mike learned from listening to them and leading the group. Read the original post on Inside Higher Education.

  • Letters of Reference for Fellowship Applications

    “Applications must include three letters of reference…”

    If you’re applying for graduate research fellowships and grants, you will likely find something along these lines in the application instructions. These letters are absolutely critical to the success of your application, yet you have no control over them — or do you?

    There is no “one-size-fits-all” set of guidelines on this topic. Letters of reference are by their very nature highly personal. Ways of building relationships will also vary according to discipline, the nature of the research, and the applicant’s career goal. That’s why it’s essential to get advice from your advisor and talk with other students in your program about their own successful strategies. However, there are a few overarching points to consider.

  • Life and Research in the Time of COVID

    On Thursday, April 9, PhD candidate Caitlin Brooks successfully defended her dissertation proposal on narratives of home at Burning Man, the global arts and culture festival held annually in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. The next day, Burning Man was cancelled for the first time in its 30+ year history. In this piece, she talks about what it looks like to pivot her research for the current times while honoring the loss caused by this disruption. 

  • From left to right, the URAP mentor and mentee panelists: Ishva Minefee, Mecca Muhammad, Emily DeFilippo, and Madeline Decker.

    Looking for a mentoring opportunity? Why You Should Be A URAP Grad Mentor.

    Are you looking for a mentoring opportunity? Whether you are interested in a career in academia or industry, you should be.

  • Making the Most of Summer: Developing Skills Employers Want

    As you move into your first summer as a graduate student at Illinois, now is a perfect milestone to take time to reflect on your progress as a student and scholar.

    Over the past year, you’ve gained new skills and knowledge in your field, but success beyond graduate school requires taking a comprehensive approach to your professional development. It requires more than technical skills and field-specific knowledge.

  • Making Your Skills Make Sense Outside Academia

    I’ll start with the good news: as a graduate student, you have a ton of fascinating, impressive skills. You know how to do lots of different things, and you know how to learn even more of them. The bad news really isn’t so bad, just initially frustrating: many of those amazing skills you have aren’t always going to make a ton of sense to people outside your field, let alone outside of academia entirely. At least not at first.

    Does that mean those skills aren’t valuable outside academia? Absolutely not. It just means you have to be creative and translate them. By shifting how you think and talk about your skills, you can help potential employers see the links between what you've done and what they need—and make it easier for them to hire you. And you’ll also make it easier for yourself to discover and explore broad, interesting career options.

  • Marrying Math and Art through Outreach

    When Michelle Delcourt was presented with the choice between math or art summer programs in high school, she knew that by choosing mathematics, she’d never leave art far behind. “For me, math is a very creative process,” she said. “Math and art are very similar, the process of doing research in doing mathematics is similar to the way that I approach making a painting or seeing a piece of artwork.”

    Now, the 5th year PhD candidate and winner of this year’s Graduate Student Leadership Award uses her love of math and art to engage young girls and underrepresented minority students in math through community outreach programs. She hopes that her approach could help attract students who might not otherwise choose mathematics.

  • Maximize Your Sleep, Rest, and Work

    In our first post on sustainability and productivity, Daniel Wong outlined three principles for a sustainable and productive life and introduced how they can apply to each of three key areas of your life. In this post, we’ll explore some actionable ways that you can implement these principles in the areas of sleep, rest, and work.

  • Meet Ana Martin: Fulbright Research Fellow in Barcelona, Spain

    Hola! My name is Ana Martin, I am a 6th year PhD student in Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Illinois. This month has been pretty exciting for me as it marks the beginning of my Fulbright Research Fellowship in Spain. Although it was a long process getting here, I’m excited to embark on the adventure of living abroad while I complete my PhD research at the University of Barcelona. For anyone interested in teaching English or conducting research abroad, I highly recommend applying for a Fulbright Fellowship. Hopefully through this post you will gain some insight into the application process and some aspects of moving abroad.

  • Melesse Biniyam

    Meet Our Fellows: Biniyam Melesse, Fulbright-Hays DDRA Awardee

    For Biniyam Melisse, winning a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad (DDRA) fellowship was “a match made in heaven.” 

  • Meet Our Fellows: Busra Karagobek, Visiting Fulbright Fellow from Ankara, Turkey

    In this special "Meet Our Fellows" post, SAGE member Meera interviews Busra Karagobek, a PhD student from Turkey, who is currently studying at the University of Illinois under a Fulbright Scholarship. Let's meet Busra!

  • Schmidt Science Fellow: Daniel Raudabaugh

    Meet Our Fellows: Daniel Raudabaugh, Schmidt Science Fellow

    It’s not every day you get to name a new species of fungi, but Daniel Raudabaugh (PhD Plant Biology, 2019) named two during his time as a graduate student at Illinois. Hongkongmyces snookiorum, named to honor his grandparents who let him collect on their land for his pilot study, and Coniella lustricola, Latin for “bog-loving.”