Friday, April 11, 2008

Finishing the PhD

Grad students tend to stay in school so long that we sometimes get lost in coursework, exams, and dissertation research, forgetting exactly what we need to prepare for when we eventually go onto the job market. When we do see the end in sight, it can sometimes be a shock to see all of the items we need to prepare for the job hunt. Although each field obviously has its differences, I thought that grad students in general could benefit from hearing some tips based on my experiences on the job market and finishing up my dissertation.

Get ready early! Find out from friends when job postings will begin to appear, and have your written materials ready by the time that happens. Ask for letters of recommendation as early as you can, and have your committee members look over drafts of your CV, cover letter, and any additional materials that you’ll have to send. When the job postings begin to come out, you’ll have plenty to do preparing, collating, and mailing your materials, so it’s best to be on your game before this happens. Allow lots of time for this process because it will take longer than you expect!

Use IU’s resources to help you out. In particular, Campus Instructional Consulting offers workshops on creating teaching portfolios and teaching statements. They will even offer one-on-one consulting sessions to help you out with a teaching statement. It’s worth the effort, and you can make an appointment through their website:

Plan your finances carefully. We all know that grad students don’t make much money, so before going on the market you should make yourself a budget—with room for unexpected extras. Costs will include new clothing for interviews, printing beyond your quota, paper and portfolio supplies, stamps, transcript orders, travel and accommodations for your field’s conference. Even when you have on-campus interviews that will be paid for by the school, you will often be asked to cover expenses up front and request reimbursement. You should have a credit card ready to pay for plane reservations, hotel rooms, and food even if you expect to be paid back.

Do your research! You may be applying to a large number of jobs, but you’ll stand a better chance if you put the extra effort into personalizing each letter and demonstrating that you know something about the school. It’s fine to have a rubric to work from, but a letter with specific references to a school’s programs will stand out.

Rehearse. Both for interviews and presentations on campus, you want to be polished and prepared. If you’re asked to give a presentation, don’t just read from a script. You don’t necessarily need lots of flashing lights and technology (and in some cases it can hurt you), but it can be helpful to memorize bits and pieces of a presentation so that you don’t come off too stiff or boring.
Finish your dissertation. When you’re on the job market, it’s almost impossible to get anything accomplished on your dissertation. You’ll be writing letters, going to the post office, preparing for interviews, or waiting nervously by the phone for months on end. If you do get a job, though, you’ll need to be prepared to have your degree in hand by August, so if you’re still ABD you’ll need to plan carefully. Plan on losing some serious time to job hunting, but set up a rigid schedule for yourself in lulls or at the end of the employment season. It’s worth that last push to get the degree and start on a ne

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dental care concerns

I think most graduate students I've spoken with are super-excited about the prospect of getting dental insurance in the fall. As thrilled as I am that GEO's agitation has finally paid off a bit, I am concerned about the fact that we've heard nothing about this proposed change in quite some time. About a year ago, the administration announced a new health and dental clinic that would supposedly take the place of good insurance. Then the whole thing got dropped - and no thanks to the IDS for following up or dealing with this issue at all.

Now, this year, the news is even better with the announcement of dental insurance. But why has there been no news in quite some time. By this time of the year, the insurance committee has met at least once and some information should exist - like who will carry the insurance. Even that little bit of information would make this graduate employee feel like some movement is being made and that the administration isn't jerking us around again.

So let's hope that new information becomes available soon....let's believe in the relative honesty in the administration, and let's believe that our teeth won't fall out because we're *finally* going to get the insurance we money-makers deserve.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Press Release

GEO's Four Year Effort Pays Off: IU Extends Dental Coverage to Grad Student Employees

Since 2004, GEO has been fighting for the interests of graduate student employees at Indiana University, and after years of agitating for dental coverage, GEO has won: in an email dated January 22, 2008, Dean of the University Graduate School, James C. Wimbush, announced that IU will extend dental coverage to all Student Academic Appointees (SAAs) beginning the following academic year.

This is momentous news, and GEO's tireless efforts certainly have helped IU's trustees and administrators understand that graduate student employees need affordable health coverage-including dental care. Indeed, GEO's demonstrations at the Sample Gates in 2006, sit-ins in Bryan Hall in 2005 and 2006, and numerous letter-writing campaigns, petitions, and meetings with university officials have played a large role in the acquisition of dental coverage for SAAs.

GEO is immensely proud of its work and is extremely pleased that IU has decided to improve the living conditions of graduate student employees. Like faculty and other campus professionals, SAAs work hard every day to ensure that IU maintains its excellent reputation as a high-caliber research and teaching institution. We hope that IU will continue to provide affordable health coverage for its SAAs and their dependents.

Dental Campaign Victory!!!!!

Tear open that bag of Gummy Bears without guilt, fellow employees and graduate students: we won! At long last, Student Academic Appointees on the Bloomington campus will have full dental coverage beginning in August 2008. Here's part of the email Dean of the University Graduate School James Wimbush sent out yesterday:

I am delighted to inform you that IU will provide dental coverage for
Student Academic Appointees (SAAs) who are appointed at 37.5% FTE,
beginning in the Fall Semester 2008. The new coverage will be
announced publically on Wednesday. As many of you have waited for this
coverage for a long time, I wanted to share the good news with you

IU will pay the full cost of the new plan's premiums, which will
generally cover the entire cost of preventive care along with some of
the cost of restorative and major dental work. The maximum benefit is
$500 a year, with a deductible ($25/visit) for restorative and major
dental work. As with medical benefits that Student Academic Appointees
receive, you will have the option of purchasing dental coverage for
your spouse and children.

The GEO has been fighting for a dental plan for over 5 years now, and it's great to finally see a victory on this one. We know how busy, how overworked, how stressed and how overloaded you all are--because we are, too. But we must take the momentum from this victory and press for better conditions on this campus. We already know of a few issues affecting graduate employees, but we want to hear more from YOU. How can we best serve all of your needs, and what campaigns should we take up? Here's a list of issues that we know of right now:
  • restoration of slashed health benefits and dependent care premiums
  • the need for lactation rooms in more classroom buildings
  • office space
Leave some comments about what you need, and what you think. We want this blog to be interactive and informative. And pass the gummy bears, please.

Monday, January 21, 2008

About GEO

The Graduate Employees Organization (GEO) is an independent group that organizes and represents Indiana University's graduate students to advocate for themselves as employees. GEO is currently working in cooperation with the Communication Workers of America (CWA), a union that represents IU's support staff, and we may affiliate officially with them in the future

GEO is an independent body comprised solely of graduate employees. The GPSO is organized under the auspices of the university administration and represents us primarily in our role as students. While GPSO is a student government, GEO hopes to be a union of and for graduate employees. GEO works in cooperation with GPSO (several GEO members serve as GPSO representatives), and we believe that both institutions are vital for IU's graduate student body.

GEO is open to all graduate employees in all disciplines, including international students. In addition, we welcome graduate students who are not currently serving as employees who may serve as employees in coming years.