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juilletmercredi

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juilletmercredi last won the day on August 31 2018

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About juilletmercredi

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    Cup o' Joe
  • Birthday 07/09/1986

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    Pacific Northwest
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    Working in industry

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  1. I think this is less related to graduate school and more related to what you want to do after you finish your MA in American studies. Will staying at your current job help you build connections that may help you land in the field you want after your master's? Or will another job do that? Do you want a more intellectually satisfying job right now?
  2. juilletmercredi

    Best Professional Handbag?

    I've gone through soooooooo many iterations of bags. Currently, I'm finding that I prefer backpacks. They're easier on my back and shoulders (which have chronic pain), and they leave my hands free if I need to do other things. I'm currently using the Everlane Modern Snap Backpack, which is reasonably priced ($68), durable, water-resistant, and spacious enough to carry all the stuff I need for work every day. It has just enough pockets. (Actually, I would argue that it has one too few pockets.) Before I started carrying this, I had the Knomo Beauchamp ($179) I LOVE it - durable, water-resistant, with the perfect number of pockets - but it's small. It was absolutely perfect for my work stuff before, but I recently acquired some wireless headphones (Christmas gift) and they stretch the limits of the bookbag. Knomo does sell a bigger one - the Beaufort ($199) - but it's still smaller than my Everlane one and I don't think it would've comfortably fit everything. Plus I liked the price of the Everlane one more. When I was doing messenger style bags, I really liked the Lo & Sons Brookline ($198). Durable, water-resistant...are you sensing a theme here?...lots of pockets. It's not lightweight, though - it's relatively heavy even when empty. I also found that the jacquard lining inside got dirty very quickly, and it had too many pockets, if such a think is possible. It encouraged me to stuff it. The T.T. is another laptop tote.
  3. juilletmercredi

    Did anyone tried to discourage you from pursuing a PhD?

    I want to re-emphasize this. Let's set aside for a moment family or others who don't know anything about academia for a second, and focus on advanced graduate students or people with PhDs trying to discourage people coming in or thinking about PhD programs. I feel like some people are characterizing this as malicious or clueless strangers trying to steal your dreams and framing this as some kind of rah-rah "believe in yourself!" overcoming of obstacles, but IMO, that's not what this is. I received my PhD 4.5 years ago (hard to believe I will be 5 years post-PhD this year!). I currently work in an industry job that I would not have gotten without my PhD - not in the same way, at least. And I still spend some time actively or indirectly discouraging people from going to get a PhD. It has nothing to do with these people's work ethic or whether I think they're able to do it, or anything like that. In fact, I have gently discouraged people who I know could do a PhD no problem, who wouldn't have any issues getting through the work. (To be fair, I don't usually give advice unsolicited - but since I work in an environment in which I am one of a few who has a PhD across my company, I get asked this question a lot.) First of all, while many students come in knowing about the job market, some don't. Some people's professors have told them the old canard about the wave of retirements coming soon (you know, the one they've been spinning since the 1990s), or whatever else. Some of the people trying to warn you may have been in this bucket, and they are only trying to be kind and pass on information they wish they had when they were new. Second of all, many students haven't thought about a Plan B if they don't go into academia, and I want any person who's asking me to think about it before entering the program because the academic market is so terrible. I want them to realize that the chances of them becoming a professor are pretty slim and think about what they want to do after. Furthermore, I want them to realize that a lot of successful academics are also exiting the academy for Reasons. The issues of a tight job market don't end once you secure the first tenure-track job; some people are stuck teaching in small towns or other areas they don't want to be in; some people get stuck with toxic departments; some people have always planned to "write their way out" but find it increasingly difficult in this atmosphere. I know I have a perceptual bias: since I am an ex-academic with a PhD, academics who want to leave contact me all the time (sometimes, out of the blue) to ask about how they can do the same thing. So I don't know what the real percentage of academics looking to leave is, but it's definitely not zero. Thirdly, and most importantly, what frenchphd said is true. I went into my own doctoral program not even wanting an academic career at all. Through six years of a PhD and a year of postdoctoral fellowship, I started to question what I thought I wanted because of the subtle (and not so subtle) cultural and social pressures of going through an academic PhD program. Professors tend to frame their work - overtly or more subtly - as the only work really worth doing, or the superior choice. They tend to infuse their efforts at career guidance with the same feelings. Few professors are fully informed on the options that you might have outside of academia, so they are of little help there. (I launched my non-academic career search by my lonesome, and when I did secure my job - I am a UX researcher at a large technology company - I had to explain to my postdoc supervisor AND my doctoral PIs what it was. They had never even heard of the field or knew it existed, and it's populated primarily by ex-academic psychologists.) The other thing here is that so much time, opportunity cost, and potentially money could be saved by someone who knows they want to work outside the academy, or for whom the chances are good that they will, by not going to a PhD program. I am 3.5 years into my career, and I have done really well pretty fast for someone at my stage; I recently got promoted to management at work. That said, I often wonder where I'd be if I had invested the 7 years I spent PhD + postdoc working instead - not just financially and career-wise, but mentally. I don't regret the years I spent getting my PhD - I learned some valuable skills and tools, met some lifelong friends, got married, and produced a large project I am proud of. But when people ask me if I would do it all over again, knowing what I know now...I don't know the answer to that question. Usually, I lean towards no. So yeah, usually the discouragement has nothing to do with how you work under pressure or what you're capable of, and it's not trying to squash your dreams. I want people who go into doctoral programs to go in with their eyes open. I always end my spiels with saying if you can go to a PhD program knowing that you likely will never be a professor; that if you are in the infinitesimally small group of people who do get a professorship, it'll likely be at a teaching college with a 3/3 load or more; that your non-academic job search, should you undertake it, will largely be powered by you with little outside support - and yet you are still so passionate about your field and research that you want to do it anyway and can be satisfied simply by the process of studying an area you deeply love for 5-7 years - then yeah, a PhD is for you! Supervisors aren't necessarily the most reliable sources of advice, either. Yes, they know you, and they know your ability to complete the PhD. But most of them have survivor's bias, and also many of them haven't had to look for a job in years, sometimes decades. They only know how difficult the market is second-hand, and frankly they are not really evaluated by whether or not they get their students jobs - they are evaluated far more on how much research they get done, and they need graduate students to accomplish that.
  4. juilletmercredi

    Funding Considerations - Advice Needed

    I mean, this is going to vary a lot. It depends on the MPP program. More prestigious/top-ranked programs are probably going to accept higher-than-average GRE scores than others. It also depends on you and the rest of your package. Obviously, an ambassador or diplomat wouldn't have to worry about their GRE scores. The work experience works in your favor, but you do also have an average GPA for admission to these types of programs. For example, Michigan says that the average GPA of their incoming class is about a 3.4. It has this to say about the GRE: In general, the incoming class has GRE scores in and above the 75th percentile. The GRE will not determine whether you are admitted to or rejected from our school. It is used in conjunction with other aspects of your application to determine whether you are equipped to perform well in Ford School classes. There are no minimum scores below which candidates will not be considered for admission. Duke, similarly, says that their students' GRE scores tended to sit in the top 25%, and their average GPA range is a 3.4-3.8. Chicago doesn't make their GRE score averages easy to find, but assuming that it's ranked somewhere among Duke and Michigan, I'd assume that they're similar. If you have an otherwise great application, the GRE alone won't necessarily keep you out of these programs. However, If I were you and I were aiming for these programs, I'd consider retaking the GRE, so I could get as close to that 75th percentile as possible. That'd be about a 157 V and a 160 Q.
  5. juilletmercredi

    Advice for a first year PhD student

    The answer is probably "a lot." More than you're used to reading, most likely. It can vary a lot from program to program: in my public health department - which was based in the social sciences, mostly sociology and anthropology - we routinely had about 4-6 main reading assignments that were each usually between 20 and 40 pages, plus some secondary/extra reading assignments that usually fell in around the same page range, maybe slightly shorter. So usually somewhere between 100 and 200 main pages a week. That was for one class, but it was definitely the heaviest class. My psychology classes had far less assigned reading - maybe 3-4 articles, but psychology articles are also typically shorter, so I'd say maybe closer to like 60-100 for those classes? The exact number doesn't matter: it's a lot of reading. You'll need to read faster, of course, but also get really good at active skimming. You won't actually read everything you're assigned to read; you'll read some of it and skim the rest. The key is learning how to quickly identify what you can skim and what you need to read - both between pieces and within pieces (there are some paragraphs or sections within an article that maybe you should read closely! And others you can just skim). The only way to really learn it is to practice, so in the time between now and grad school - if you have some downtime and are looking for something to do - try reading some articles, books, monographs, etc. (whatever your field regularly publishes) and building this skill.
  6. juilletmercredi

    Advisor likely not getting tenure

    At most universities, people who are denied tenure get a "terminal year"; since academic hiring works on the academic calendar, it's usually an opportunity for the professor to at least have employment while looking for another job. So, if your university is like most other universities, your advisor's final year will coincide with your final year. She will, however, be very busy - and in the spring of your fifth year, will likely be traveling a lot to do on-campus interviews. Usually, what happens in these situations is that your old advisor technically becomes your outside reader for your dissertation, but in practice still serves as a primary advisor. Then you find another professor in the department who can serve as your technical primary advisor and chair of your committee, but in practice will be a regular committee member. If you have concerns, approach your advisor and talk to her. You don't have to say that you're worried she won't get tenure. However, certainly every academic knows that tenure denial is a possibility, so you can say that you want to talk about the potentiality.
  7. juilletmercredi

    Academia.edu & ResearchGate

    I saw no purpose for joining ResearchGate, as you can access all of their full-text articles without logging in. All their accounts seemed good for was spamming me with a whole lot of emails. Academia.org is less-used in my fields (psychology and public health), so less useful.
  8. juilletmercredi

    Vision and Dental?

    Typically, no, they don't. Some universities have add-on packages you can purchase - for example, at Columbia, dental was an additional $250 a year on top of the student health insurance. I don't remember how I had vision coverage in graduate school; I think that was also an additional package. I needed to purchase that because I wear glasses.
  9. If you are looking for academic employment, most employers are actually going to want more than one reference letter. You can, of course, opt not to use your primary advisor as a reference letter writer. It will look a little bit odd, and many departments may wonder why you chose not to. But I think this situation is common enough, and if you have glowing references from three other writers who know you well, that will mitigate the issue. (And yes, some departments will reach out to your primary advisor regardless of what letters you provide.) For non-academic employers, this is less weird.
  10. juilletmercredi

    Best Laptops for Research-- 2018

    What kind of "data processing software"? Are you talking about statistical packages? Most laptops in that range should be more than capable of handling statistical packages these days, especially if you opt for 8 GB of RAM. You're not going to find a Mac in the $500-1000 range. Not a new one, anyway. I got an HP Spectre x360 several years ago for $800, and it ran Stata like butter. There are some good Lenovo machines in that price range, too. I replaced my HP recently with a Surface Laptop, which I love, and is super lightweight, and also plenty powerful enough for a statistical package. There are good Toshiba and Asus machines in the price range as well.
  11. juilletmercredi

    Why go to graduate school

    Well, let me begin by saying: I don't think pursuing a graduate degree is a huge risk. Employment data shows that people with graduate degrees have lower unemployment rates and overall higher average salaries than people without them. Parsing it farther, the unemployment rate for doctoral degree holders is very low - somewhere around 2%. Pursuing a graduate degree is a risk IF you consider your only viable career option to be academia, as a tenure-track professor in your field. If you think more expansively, it's actually not that risky an endeavor. However, I have to say that I heartily disagree with Mexal. Sure sure, a PhD allows a person to more deeply study a field and contribute to a particular field of inquiry. And that's all fine and good, if one were independently wealthy and did not need to feed themselves or their families with work. For everyone else, graduate school should be seen as a means to an end - and one shouldn't pursue the degree unless they intend to do something with it that requires or strongly recommends it. (Or, alternatively, if they go in with eyes wide open that their PhD program is just a 7-year diversion and they are fine with the idea of doing something that doesn't require it later.) I have to say that I have a lot of disdain for current professors (as Mexal is) trying to extend/preserve their way of life by repurposing graduate school away from preparation for a tenure-track position in academia to being just about strong interest in a field. Most professors certainly don't act as if preparing their students for a TT position isn't the goal. It's also disingenuous: most professors know that most students who enter PhD programs do so intending to be tenure-track professors in the field. More insidiously, though, is that in my eyes that repurposing is a selfish and frankly exploitative move by these professors: they need PhD students to teach their freshman service classes so that they can spend time on their scholarship and teaching the upper-level 12-student seminars. I'm fine with PhDs being seen not only as a vehicle for TT jobs if and only if there are other positions that ask for a PhD in certain fields, or would strongly benefit from one. I work in an industry that hires a lot of PhDs in the computer, mathematical, and engineering sciences and quite a few in the social and behavioral sciences. But if someone came to me tomorrow and said they wanted to be a UX researcher, should they go get a PhD? I'm not sure I'd say yes. I'd tell them to start with a master's in HCI and see where they could get from there.
  12. juilletmercredi

    I feel like I won't be able to make it.

    Try working backwards to create a timeline for yourself. Let's just call it early November; you have 5.5 months to transcribe, analyze, and write. That's plenty of time but only if you're focused and do a little each day. You can transcribe interviews yourself. It's a pain in the butt, but honestly, it's a good skill to practice/have and it helps you get really close to your interviews. You may want to consider buying a transcription foot pedal from Amazon (it allows you to stop the recording with your foot while your hands finish the thought; you make fewer errors that way). Let's say that if you've never transcribed before, the interviews will each take you a full day's work - so 8-9 hours - to transcribe. Then that's 9 working days on the interviews. Let's add a little time for each hour of audio for the focus group - since you'll have to separate voices and such - so let's say that will take you 4-5 working days to transcribe. We're at 14 working days, which let's say is about 3 work weeks, excluding the weekends. SO let's say it'll take you to the end of November to transcribe your interviews, particularly if you take time off for Thanksgiving. Then the analysis. It's a little harder to estimate how long that'll take you, especially given that you're new - it depends on your data and your thesis topic. My opinion is that you don't have to practice on other data first; I don't think there's anything wrong with practicing on your interview data. Your first set of codes and themes is supposed to be messy - that's true whether you're a whiz at grounded theory or brand new. Most researchers take much longer to code the first 2-3 interviews and the codes are messy and sprawling, and then after they get into a rhythm, they revisit the first 2-3 interviews and recode/fix/whatever based on what they've learned. There's not really a set of hard-and-fast rules to it, and they're going to kind of evolve anyway depending on the data, so my choice wouldn't be to work on another set of data. But everyone learns differently. Given that you have 4.5 months left after subtracting about a month for transcribing, I'd say try to compress the analysis to 2 months so you have 2.5 months to write and turn in your thesis. That's a very tight timeline, and it depends on how long your thesis has to be. But it's doable.
  13. juilletmercredi

    Job Opportunities with a MA in Sociology

    Might be your location? When I search 'Advisory Board' they're the first result, but likely because I've clicked on them before. https://www.advisory.com/careers
  14. Yes, while I advocating getting through a PhD in a timely manner, a PhD is also a marathon and not a sprint. It's better to take a longer time and set yourself up for career success than it is to rush through only to find yourself having to spend all the time you "saved" in postdocs. I'd advocate for applying to those top programs in your field you're already planning, and see what happens in admissions. Many other programs offer the three-paper option to students, and sometimes you can edit or beef up a paper you published previously (regardless of what program you were in when it happened) to include in your dissertation. Also, somewhat paradoxically, getting a postdoc at a prestigious institution is a lot easier if you have a PhD from a prestigious institution.
  15. A program can be a cash cow and still be very good. Columbia's EALAC program is definitely a cash cow (very expensive; financial aid offers are rare) but Columbia's East Asian studies departments are some of the best in the world. That also doesn't mean you won't get attention and advising from your professors or professional benefit from getting the MA. So the question is, are you wondering what programs are bad quality and expensive, or are you just wondering which programs don't offer a lot of financial aid? Area studies master's programs often are cash cows for universities, because they do tend to be expensive and don't tend to offer a whole lot of funding or aid. But that doesn't mean that an area studies master's isn't right for your particular career goals.
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