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  • 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.

  • Time Management Strategies

    Graduate school is full of exciting new experiences and challenges as you develop advanced skills and use them in new ways. Graduate school takes time, and finding the right way to balance your time is critical to accomplishing your goals. In this video, I give you some time management tips that will help you with prioritizing, setting goals, and creating a plan. Prefer to read the content of the video? The full transcription is below so you can access the material in the way that works best for you. 

  • 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.

  • The Art of Proposal Writing: Proposal as Genre

    Mystery and suspense, a hero going on a quest…why am I talking about this in a blog post about proposal writing?  Because when you write about your research, you’re writing a story of ideas that explores uncharted intellectual territory. As you’ve developed your skills and knowledge of the field, you’ve identified a gap in what we know and a means by which you believe you can fill it. That’s what makes proposal writing a special genre.

  • Putting the Break Back into Winter Break: Managing Work and Play During Winter Break

    Semester breaks are the perfect time for some relaxation, spending time with friends and family, and filling up on delicious holiday snacks. But for graduate students working on their theses, winter breaks also mean ample time to get some research and writing done. During my seven-year career as a graduate student, I’ve spent plenty of time trying to achieve the best of both worlds. Though balancing data analysis and cookie baking can be difficult, below are a few tips to help you maximize your research time, and still have fun during the holiday season.

  • What I Wish I Had Known while Writing my Thesis: Tips and Advice from Grad College Staff

    When Emily began working at the Graduate College, she had just taken her final exam and was revising her dissertation. This task coupled with working full-time ended up being much more stressful than she could have imagined. Little did she know that Coble Hall is full of talented individuals who knew first-hand the struggles of completing a thesis and were happy to share their stories and advice. Read on for some of the feedback she found helpful!

  • 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.

  • The Art of Proposal Writing: Proposal as Roadmap

    In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the proposal as a genre — the story of your journey into uncharted intellectual territory, driven by a vision of your contribution to your discipline and beyond. Your reviewers are excited! They want to help you complete your journey! But, they want some details. The proposal is the roadmap you provide.

    There is no right or wrong way to structure a proposal. There may be disciplinary norms or funder guidelines, which is why it is essential to look at successful proposals in your discipline and read the program solicitation carefully.  Regardless of the structure, there are some commonalities in proposals across all disciplines and funders. Here are some tips for putting together a good roadmap for the reviewers...

  • 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.

  • Ananya Tiwari presenting about SwaTaleem

    What Keeps Me Going during COVID: Journey of an International Graduate Student

    The COVID19 pandemic hit all of us differently. Staying away from home and family has been incredibly hard on all students, but especially international students who may need to go an extremely long time before seeing family. In this post, educational pyschology PhD student Ananya Tiwari shares what keeps her going amid the COVID-19 pandemic while far from home.  

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • A teddy bear hamster runs on a hamster wheel

    Stop the Hamster Wheel: Making Plans in Grad School

    Graduate school can sometimes feel like running on a hamster wheel, like you’re in constant motion but not really sure that you’re getting anywhere.

    There are a ton of one-week deadlines (I have to write that literature review by Tuesday!) and a few five-year deadlines (I’ll defend my dissertation!), but bridging the gaps between those can be tough. And that makes it hard to figure out whether you’re headed in the right direction. Planning can help you build those bridges effectively, preparing you to make choices with your goals in mind so you don’t just keep spinning until you’re dizzy.

    So what makes a good plan? What will help you leave the wheel to the hamsters and make the most of grad school? Here are some approaches we recommend...

  • New Year - New Thesis Goals

    It’s February and your New Year’s resolutions have started to become habit… or fallen by the wayside. Fortunately, there’s still 11 months in the year to make your thesis a priority. The start of the new year and the new semester is a great time to think about what direction you would like your thesis work to go and to make plans accordingly. Below are five tips to help you set (and stick with) thesis-writing goals.

  • Thesis Summer Reading List

    No matter if you’re studying for exams or working on your thesis, chances are your summer reading list is full of books and articles that pertain to your research area. But why not mix things up a little by adding a few to help with your writing and research skills?

    Emily asked several campus experts to recommend books that could help students who are working on their theses. Their suggestions range in topic from strengthening your writing and research skills to conquering productivity to finding relaxation. Check out their suggestions!

  • 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.  

  • Meet Our Fellows: Ford Fellows on Campus

    To increase diversity in higher education, the Ford Foundation offers predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral fellowships. The goal is three-fold – increasing university’s ethnic and racial diversity, maximizing the educational benefits of diversity, and increasing the number of professors who use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

    We talked to three University of Illinois graduate students from across campus who received a Ford Fellowship to learn more about the program.

  • Nile Blunt, PhD, History, 2011

    Where Are They Now? Nile Blunt

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this new monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?". Our first interviewee, Nile Blunt, completed his PhD in History in 2011. After leaving Illinois, he began work at Phillips Academy, an independent secondary boarding school in Andover, MA. There, he serves as an instructor in history, the curator of the Academy’s Collection of Art and Antiques as well as the Academy’s Geographer at Large. 

  • 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. 

  • What Can I Do with a PhD in the Humanities?

    It’s well-known that academic jobs are in short supply for humanities PhD graduates right now, but the question ‘what can I do with a PhD in the humanities?’ should have less to do with a lack of academic positions than it should the sheer number of career possibilities. That was the focus of ‘What Can I Do with a PhD in the Humanities?’, a 5-week Graduate College workshop run by Derek Attig that I attended last Spring. The workshop covered advice and resources for finding jobs beyond academia, weekly conversations with humanities PhD graduates working in fields like public radio to environmental advocacy, and self-assessments of values and skills. The self-assessments were particularly illuminating, and they allowed each of us to approach the broader workshop questions with a focus on our own goals and interests.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Meet Our Fellows: Nubras Samayeen, American Association of University Women

    When she finishes her degree at Illinois, Nubras Samayeen may be the first woman in Bangladesh to hold a PhD in Landscape Architecture. This is the realization of a goal she's had since she was a child and is, in no small part, something she's doing for her own two young daughters and for other Bangladeshi women who, like her, have unconventional dreams. Here’s her story.

  • 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.   

  • What We Learned at the Faculty Job Search Retreat

    On an especially hot and muggy day last month, nearly 250 graduate students and postdocs peeled themselves away from the bench, left the library, set aside their dissertations, and trekked over to the Illini Union for the Graduate College’s seventh annual Faculty Job Search Retreat.

    The retreat featured sessions on application documents of all kinds (cover letters! teaching philosophies! research statements!), helping attendees get ready to write excellent materials. But as it is every year, the highlight of the day was a panel of faculty members who offered a window into everyday life and hiring practices at their very different institutions. This year’s guests were: James Matthews, Associate Professor of French at Illinois Wesleyan University; Angela Glaros, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies at Eastern Illinois University; and Jeremy Guest, Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois.

    Since not all of you could attend this year, we thought we would share some highlights in the form of 3 tips from our panelists....

     

  • The Faculty Interview

    There’s nothing quite like a faculty interview to get you tied into knots. The stakes are high, the formats can be awkward, and it’s not really like anything you’ve done before. So it’s easy to be scared, anxious, worried, nervous, apprehensive—or just plain super-freaked-out. And that’s normal. But it’s a good idea to be some other things, too. Here are some ideas...

  • 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.

  • SAGE

    Meet the 2020 - 2021 SAGE Board Members

    Students Advising on Graduate Education (SAGE) is a student advisory board and leadership opportunity for graduate students at Illinois that fosters active engagement with Graduate College programs and initiatives. SAGE board members enrich graduate student community, build leadership and administrative skills, and strengthen Graduate College services and programs. As we embark on a new academic year, we are excited to introduce our 2020 - 2021 SAGE board!

  • 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.

  • Matthew Boudreau

    Meet Our Fellows: Matthew Boudreau, NCI Pre/Postdoctoral Fellow

    “All of us, unfortunately, have a personal experience with cancer impacting a friend or family member. It touches a lot of our hearts. I saw the depths of what we could not treat through a life experience of a friend,” Matthew Boudreau, PhD Candidate in Chemistry said. “I think that was the first spark for me to become involved in cancer research.”

  • Stuck in a Rut: Exploring an Outside Interest Can Shape your Grad School Experience

    “I think a common experience for grad students, particularly at major research institutions, is the single-minded focus on producing excellent research. It’s so easy to get tunnel vision and lose track of what you are excited or passionate about. And, it’s easy to get caught up in a pattern of obsessing about whether you’re smart enough or ‘good’ enough.” Kaye Usry, PhD candidate in Political Science, said. “I was feeling a lot of pressure to meet these expectations that, when it came down to it, I was really setting for myself. It wasn't healthy or good for me.” It was at that point that Kaye started exploring ways to engage with the community and issues that were important to her, outside of her research.

  • Where Are They Now? Michael Santana

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Michael Santana was the recipient of a Ford Predoctoral Fellowship from 2013 - 2016. He graduated from Illinois in 2016 with a PhD in Mathematics. Now, he is an Assistant Professor (tenure-track) in the Department of Mathematics at Grand Valley State University, which is located in Allendale, MI. In this capacity, he is a teacher, mentor, and advisor to the students at the university and an active member of his department, college, university, and the mathematics community.

  • Geethika Yalamanchili

    Where Are They Now?: Geethika Yalamanchili

    Geethika Yalamanchili graduated with a PhD in Chemical Engineering in December 2017 and now works at Ancestry DNA as a Computational Research Biologist and Research Scientist. Her work takes her back-and-forth between Salt Lake City and San Francisco where she completes research and brainstorms ideas and project with other scientists. More specifically, she studies the unique genetic code of human beings to understand what makes them similar and at the same time so very different from each other.

  • Where Are They Now? Mariela Fernandez

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Mariela Fernandez graduated from Illinois in 2015 with a PhD in Recreation, Sport and Tourism and a minor from the Latina/Latino Studies Program. Now, she works at Clemson University as an Assistant Professor. Her research examines why lack of access to park and recreation resources occurs in Latino communities, what the health implications of this are, and what strategies can be used to address the problem.

  • 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.”

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • People shot at outdoor farmer's market.

    Taking a Break

    Taking healthy breaks in grad school is essential and doesn’t have to take a long time. 

  • 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...

  • 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. 

  • 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.  

  • cartoon of women working at laptop while giving a biscuit to her dog

    Working from Home: Take a Breath

    Like many of us, I’ve recently and suddenly found myself working from home. While the work I’m doing is pretty different these days, working from home is bringing back memories of writing my dissertation on fellowship. With nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, I would spend days (and nights) hunched over my laptop. 

  • Where Are They Now? Ryan McConnell

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: “Where are they now?”.

    Ryan McConnell works at salesforce as a Senior Demo Engineer, writing code for applications that show off what the company’s software can do. After completing his PhD in Classical Philology, Ryan McConnell eagerly began work as a visiting assistant professor. But with the uncertainty of the faculty job market, Ryan began exploring new career paths and found that his hobby in computer programming could actually be a career.

  • Where Are They Now? Christine Herman

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Christine Herman graduated from Illinois in 2012 with a PhD in Chemistry and then again in 2014 with her MS in Journalism. Now, she is a multimedia producer at Illinois Public Media, working on a new statewide talk show called "The 21st." Every day, she monitors the news and social media platforms to get discussion ideas for the daily radio talk show. She also reaches out to potential guests and assists the host of the show prepare questions to guide the conversation. 

  • 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.

  • SAGE

    Meet Your 2021 SAGE Board Members

    SAGE is a graduate student advisory board and leadership opportunity fostering active engagement with Illinois Graduate College programs and initiatives.

  • 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.

  • Graduate students dressed in theatrical costumes perform on stage

    Staying Creative During Quarantine

    Staying creative during quarantine can be challenging. New work conditions with more, or less, distractions and commitments, fewer in person arts and entertainment opportunities in your community, and an atmosphere of stress and uncertainty can all negatively affect creativity. In this interview, Nic Morse, Digital Media Specialist (and our in house illustrator!) checks in with Vincent Carlson, a PhD student in Theatre at Illinois to chat about what creativity and engagement with the arts looks like for him during COVID-19.

  • Where Are They Now? Norman Atkins, Jr.

    Where can a graduate degree from the University of Illinois take you? In this monthly series, we catch up with one recent Graduate College alum and ask the question: "Where are they now?".

    Norman Atkins, Jr. graduated from the university with a customized joint MBA/PhD (Neuroscience) in 2009. He joined the team at Shire Pharmaceuticals as a Senior Medical Science Liaison for US Neuroscience Global Medical Affairs. After a series of promotions within the company, in June 2016, Norman was promoted to Franchise Global Medical Lead on the Shire Neuroscience Medical Affairs team. In this new role, he heads a cross-functional Global Medical Team for one of the company’s ADHD products. This entails being responsible for articulating the medical strategy for educating/supporting healthcare providers regarding ADHD disease state and clinical/scientific data regarding the company’s ADHD therapies. He also contributes medical/scientific input as a member of the larger Product Strategy Team for the marketed product.

  • 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.