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Everything posted by lewin

  1. To be clear, jobs that would wait on letters were very much the minority-- I just appreciated them on the rare occasions when it happened.
  2. Relatedly, on the market I loved jobs that didn't require letters until you were shortlisted.
  3. Ha, yes, very pithy. Relatedly, the blog "Ask a Manager" has a stock phrase for referring to past situations such as "I was depressed in second year and got all D's" that I like and have mentioned here before: "I had a chronic health condition that has since been resolved."
  4. "I didn't pay my parking tickets."
  5. This. In grad school an undergraduate student did most of their work for me. I wrote the first draft of the letter; my advisor bulked it up and signed it.
  6. Agreed. I have a lot more tolerance for training and handholding when the student is (a) volunteering or (b) working for course credit. If I'm not paying them they should learn something. If I'm paying them from my grant.... well of course there's a learning curve for new people, but the ultimate reason I pay an RA is to take things off my plate, not add to my workload.
  7. To be clear: I was responding to the comment I quoted and meant at Waterloo, social psych to be exact. It's basically a direct entry PhD but on paper students are admitted as an MA, then transferred without doing a thesis (mostly). ETA: "Students typically enter our PhD programs directly from undergraduate studies."
  8. On paper, admissions are to the MA but they automatically transfer everyone* to the PhD program at the end of year one. This arrangement is mostly so first years can apply for MA scholarships. The expectation is that everyone will stay for five years and leave with a PhD. *exceptions for people who need to stay a MA to get their funding and for low performers.
  9. Keep in mind that profs want students who will help fulfil their own goals. So "good fit" means "They will help me research the things I'm interested in." That is, have ideas but come off as flexible.
  10. Also, if your POI knows the dept head reasonably well, I think there's a 90% chance they'll have a phone conversation anyway as soon as the POI sees that he's one of your referees--the call might just originate with the POI.
  11. Good advisors will do this without being asked if they think it will help you. My intuition is that suggesting it yourself seems pushy.
  12. Good advice, though sometimes hard to predict. Looking back, I see that the places where I got interviews were often where--frankly, by coincidence--I had highlighted possible research questions in my statement that were exactly where the PI wanted to go in the future. A good strategy, that I definitely didn't consider at the time, would be to check their more recent conference presentations. Those tend to be newer or unpublished data. Or if you're really clever, look up the topics of their active grant(s). Getting back to the point about PI's being "lazy" -- I think it's absolutely right but also no different than applying for any other job. Supervisors of all kinds want students/employees who will help them achieve their goals. To crib from JFK, don't write about what the program can do for you, write about what you can do for the program.
  13. ^^above advice is good. Personally I wouldn't email students until you know you're getting an interview or if you were referred to them. You should use the questions as an opportunity to help make your decision, not to ingratiate yourself and attempt to affect their decision. One reason for this is that I feel like the PhD influence goes in one direction here, i.e., a PhD student is unlikely to convince their advisor to take a student, that they weren't going to anyway, based on some transient email contact, but the PhD student could certainly influence their advisor to not take a student if the applicant wrote something ridiculous. When you do email, do it selectively. As a PhD student I once got a long list of questions from an applicant. I spent about a half hour answering them thoroughly... then at lunch with my fellow students discovered that they had sent the same list to four of us, and we'd all answered very similarly. We collectively felt annoyed because of the wasted effort--it was a long list, and we didn't need to all answer it separately.
  14. ^^Frankly this sounds like the academic equivalent of a get rich quick scheme. High impact journals are that way for a reason, and it's not so easy as just running some experiments (will they work?) and writing the paper (rejection rate at good journals is >80%). ETA: when I started grad school my advisor had a manuscript with a revise and resubmit at the top journal in our field but it just required one more experiment of pretty-much-sure-thing data. That's as close to a sure thing as one can get; your situation is not.
  15. This. I applied to Harvard and all I got was (a) a rejection on nice letterhead and (b) a letter six months later saying they'd had a data breach and were giving me a year of free credit monitoring.
  16. gellart has it nailed. Do you want to just graduate? Then those expectations sound fine. But if you want to land somewhere at the top of your field then more is required... It's the same in any professional field--just ask an associate who's trying to make partner at a top firm, or a med student who wants a residency at Harvard Medical School.
  17. haha. Would concrete examples allay your concerns? I remember these... - I asked candidate, "What kind of research are you interested in?" Candidate: "I don't know." Me, "I don't need specifics, just what do you like?" Candidate: "I really have no idea." [Me thinking: How did you get an interview!?] - Candidate who spent 95% of student meeting talking about how great their current lab is insteading asking ANY questions about our program. Current students couldn't get a word in edgewise. Candidate decided to stay in current lab. Current students weren't surprised or disappointed. - Candidate who said their undergrad school "Wasn't very good for [their discipline]," and, "I'm a way better writer than most of the other students I know." - Candidate who looked bored and was checking their phone the whole time I was giving them their department tour. Later I talked to a grad student at another place where candidate had also applied--same thing had happened there. - In a meeting, a candidate who told a faculty member [not their POI]: "It's too bad nobody here studies X and Y." Said faculty member studies X and Y, was probably one of the biggest junior scholars in that area. This. I've only done it when the conference had ipads as prizes for top poster etc. That said, my program had pretty good resources for travel to real conferences, but if one didn't have those opportunities then a grad student conference might be the only chance at practice that one gets. It's CV cruft though.
  18. I probably should have said "tenure track, or working in academia". Didn't mean to necessarily exclude adjuncts. Just looking at the forum posts, they're mostly along the lines of "thinking of leaving!" and "alternative jobs!??!"
  19. This isn't always a perk because when you graduate you'll be competing for jobs against people with >3 years of publications.
  20. I married someone with a good job and we paid of $50k in loans over five years. I know that answer seems kind of smartass, but among my grad school contemporaries it seemed like the only ones who were able to pay off their undergrad debts were the ones with working partners. Sometimes a single stipend just isn't enough. (But seriously, good advice in other posts.)
  21. Sometimes you just need to take them at their word.
  22. Programs that use animals for research are the exception rather than the rule. You won't have problems.
  23. I looked down the Jobs forum threads and I don't see any that actually refer to the actual holy grail, an academic position. Curious if there's anybody here who got a tenure-track professor position. Maybe it happens but they just fall off the forum once employment arrives.
  24. I'm completely curious how bad the "wrong" resume could be. Highlights leadership experience with ISIS? Was old version that only included job from Hooters? ("Assistant wing breader, 2002-2006")
  25. I've met lots of potential students who ended up going elsewhere. Declining in itself doesn't create a negative impression.... the only ones I remember negatively are the ones who made bad impressions in other ways (e.g., egotistical, dim, verbose, socially awkward) and who I was usually happy they ended up somewhere else. If someone gives you side-eye just because you went to another program, that reflects poorly on them, not on you. Frankly I would be more concerned about whether it's worth your time. Graduate student conferences are fine for the experience, but almost worthless for your vita.... so do you want to give a practice talk? Then go for it.
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