Gain first-hand insights and build career connections on UChicagoGRAD career treks

UChicagoGRAD career treks provide interactive exposure to different career paths by visiting employer sites to learn about the work of a few organizations and network with alumni and professionals in the field.

A UChicagoGRAD career trek generally takes graduate students and postdoctoral scholars off campus to employer sites. Trek participants visit up to three different sites in the course of a day, spending 60-90 minutes touring the physical space and interacting with alumni and other high-ranking leaders in the field at each site. Seeing the physical spaces of an office and hearing what people with similar levels of graduate or postdoctoral training do with their skills helps make a career path tangible for UChicago students and postdocs. Those who have attended UChicagoGRAD career treks comment on how energizing it is to see the passion others have for their intellectually engaging work. Some have even turned the experience into a meaningful internship.

See below for one student’s reflection on a recently piloted, on-campus UChicagoGRAD career trek to the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and for information on upcoming and previous treks, visit

2018 Trek to UChicago Laboratory Schools

Career trek reflection written by Nicole Beckmann Tessel, PhD Student in History

On December 10th, 2018, I decided to pursue a career in K-12 education. It was the trek to the Laboratory Schools organized by UChicagoGRAD that solidified K-12 teaching and administration as my vocation. During this half-day visit to Lab, together with a group of some 18 or so graduate students and postdocs – all curious about what goes on at the school next door to ours – I met with administrators, faculty, and students, and even observed the latter two in action in the classroom.

Through our conversations with administrators, faculty, and students, I learned about what makes Lab unique amongst independent schools. Charlie Abelmann, Lab’s director, conveyed the continued importance of the school’s founder, John Dewey and his wife Alice, and their vision of progressive education at Lab. We were invited to attend a conference on May 2nd – 4th to honor the Dewey legacy and the 100th anniversary of their two-year trip to China. This attention to the school’s roots, history, and traditions resonated with me as an historian.

The panel of students with whom we spoke made clear the caliber of individual that attends Lab. These students were conscientious, focused, self-aware, and excited about their lives. As Noah Rachlin, Dean of Teaching and Learning at the High School, explained to us, Lab attracts families seeking a rigorous college prep school for their children, but also one that lives up to the ideals of progressive education. Noah described his and his colleagues’ jobs as a sort of dance, in which they continually seek to achieve a delicate balance between helping make Lab both a destination and a stepping stone. This interest in cultivating a sense of the importance of the here-and-now coupled simultaneously with a practically oriented eye to the future is precisely the kind of philosophy I think ambitious youth (including those I teach at the undergraduate level) ought to be encouraged to take to heart at an early age.

Beyond learning about Lab, we gained insight into some of the challenges and excitements that punctuate a career in secondary education. From the hiring process to the actual day-to-day, Lab faculty offered us an insider’s snapshot into a world I have only known (and many years ago at that) as a student. Lab faculty cited the opportunity to get to know students through daily interaction as a highlight of their job. It is this kind of frequent and sustained contact with students that I imagine enriches student-teacher relationships (and also, relationships between colleagues); I would thrive in such a world where relationship building is valued. Indeed, what struck me most about Nadia Owens’s U.S. History class was the atmosphere of comfort and familiarity that permeated the four walls of her classroom.

Getting a job as K-12 educator, however, is far from easy. But the faculty with whom we met offered several important tips on what to consider during an interview and also on the job. I share some of them here:

  • Embrace the reality that this is not a 9 to 5 job.
  • LISTEN! to the hiring committee and always be open to feedback from your colleagues.
  • Understand in what ways teaching, say, 14 year olds is different from teaching 17 year olds.
  • Be able to describe and then analyze a lesson that went smoothly and another that went poorly.
  • Know your audience; know the particular school.
  • Be open about your lack of K-12 teaching experience and explain why it is that you want to teach high school students.

After half a day at Lab, the challenge and excitement of secondary education was eminently clear to me. This work is deeply meaningful and fulfilling to those for whom it is a calling. I, too, have now heard the call within me.

Student Recruitment

Did you know When Harry met Sally and Divergent were both filmed on UChicago’s campus? Learn fun facts and other important information to impress prospective UChicago graduate students!

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Sign up for UChicagoGRAD training dinners in advance of department recruitment and admitted student events

Are you helping out with your department’s admitted student open house or recruitment events? If so, UChicagoGRAD is here to help prepare you by offering student recruiter training sessions. These are fun, interactive events reflecting on the student experience, living in Hyde Park, getting around Chicago, etc., and dinner will be provided. Sessions are scheduled for early evening on Monday, January 14 and Tuesday, February 5. Sign up here.

How to Set Realistic New Year’s Resolutions as a Graduate Student

UChicago PhD Candidate Lauren Schachter shares tips on how to set practical goals for 2019.


PhD comics

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There is a rabbit hole’s worth of internet literature on New Year’s resolutions: it’s a rich archive that someone should definitely resolve to write a dissertation about in 2019. But seriously, it’s hard to know what to do on January 1st—especially if you are an overwhelmed graduate student, anxious about doing everything within your power to be ready for that job market moment, when it comes. How can we make useful resolutions (call them goals, if you prefer) when it all seems urgent?

Every year, the debate renews itself: are new year’s resolutions pointless and self-sabotaging? Or are they the useful nudges we need to live our best lives? Done right, they can be the latter. Here are some tips:

  • Break it down: Vague, baggy goals are near-impossible to achieve. Goals like: “Finish dissertation,” “Land job or post-doc,” and “Be healthier” are not good goals—at least not on their own. Try following up an intimidating goal with the question “and how will I do this?” until you’ve carved the goal into smaller, more realistic tasks. For example, with “Finish dissertation,” a ridiculous ask how will I do that? By writing the remaining two chapters. And how will I write those? By deciding which one I will write first. With that decision made, what do I need to do first in order to write this chapter? More reading – and how will I do this? And so on. The point is, never write “finish dissertation” or even “finish chapter” on your to-do list for a given day. Even if you are actually about to defend, finishing the dissertation should manifest as a more specific set of tasks: proofread Chapter 2, check footnotes for Chapter 2 and 3, write acknowledgments, etc.


  • Life Happens: “My schedule is completely clear for dissertation work,” said no one ever! So double check your lofty goals against what else you have going on. Are you teaching this quarter? Moving apartments? Is your sister having twins? Are youhaving twins? Etc. Setting hyper-rigorous goals will not, contrary to popular belief, push you to succeed. The surest way to achieving your bigger goals is through the little goals—incremental wins. Everyone works and writes differently, but generally we have in common the positive momentum that comes from checking off a box, even if that box is a seemingly small task.


  • Find Your Productivity App: How to ensure these incremental wins? Why not gameify your productivity? The original Pomodoro technique was developed in the 1980s, inspired by kitchen tomato timers, and you worked in 25 min. increments with 5 min. breaks, and a longer 15-20 min. break after completing four 25 min. increments. My personal favourite is Forest, available for iPhone or Android, in which you gain points for planting trees in order to buy adorably strange new trees, like the cat-, bread-, or candy-tree. You can even customize what the app says to gently scold you for trying to check something on your phone in the middle of growing a tree (distraction kills trees)! With Forest and most other Pomodoro-style apps, you can customize everything (work increment duration, break length, long break length). It’s silly but fun and might work for you. Finally, you don’t need an app to work in timed increments, just a timer with an alarm. Happy planting!


About the author
Lauren Schachter is completing her dissertation in eighteenth-century and Romantic British Literature, with many little goals to get her from here to a summer 2019 defense date.

5 Ways to Keep your Writing and Research Momentum going over Winter Break

Worried that vacation, travel, and shifts in your routine might hinder your productivity? Check out tips to keep your progress going while also accounting for your need to relax, rest, and reconnect with friends and family!

UChicagoGRAD Dissertation Write-In

You may have big writing or research project plans for Winter Break, so here are some tips for developing a realistic plan for your academic goals and a handful of strategies that can help you accomplish them.

Remember: Academic breaks can present dueling interests between self-care and what you need to accomplish as a researcher and writer. It’s key to realize that both are important, set realistic expectations, and plan for how you’ll negotiate the Winter Break’s particular challenges:  unstructured time, exhaustion at the end of an academic quarter, family and social commitments, and heightened expectations for “open” writing and research time.

Getting started:

  1. What are your needs as a person over Winter Break? [such as: time spent with family or friends, sleep, getting outside, or hobbies]
  2. How do you plan to address those personal needs?
  3. Outline the challenges Winter Break might pose for your writing and research. [such as: time away from campus resources, lack of quiet space, or social and familial commitments]
  4. How do you plan to address those challenges? What are some workarounds? How can you set up mechanisms for accountability? [see below for tips!]

Tips for addressing some of the challenges of Winter Break productivity:

  1. Kick start your momentum by registering for Mini Dissertation Write-Ins in the Graduate Writing Room (Sessions on December 17-18, 9am-1pm or December 19-21, 9am-1pm): these are intensive workshops designed to help you break through roadblocks and make progress.
  2. Develop a Writing Ritual: pick an easily repeatable activity that will mark a shift into work mode (such as lighting a candle, putting on a hat, or tidying up your work space). For more about this technique, claim your institutional membership to NCFDD and check out this webinar.
  3. Make it Social: create a Facebook group, Instagram chat, or a group text message with peers to set up accountability around writing time (for example, text your peers, “I’m going to write for 1.5 hours on Tuesday, starting at 10 AM, does anyone want to join?” and then check in once you’re done).
  4. Make a Co-working Date: meet a friend in a coffee shop or plan for a silent Skype writing session with a colleague.
  5. Partner with a peer for Weekly Check-ins: via a shared Google doc or a Skype session, check in about three things each week: updates on your weekly progress, your goals for the upcoming week, and requests for advice on one thing (if needed). If you’re using a Google doc, use the comments function to encourage one another and weigh in with advice.

** Content generously provided by the Writing Program, adapted from National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity resources.

UChicago Common Book Initiative: The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui

Join this campus-wide reading experience and pick up a copy of The Best We Could Do this week!

The UChicago Common Book Initiative strives to enhance campus climate and build community through a shared experience, bringing together undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, faculty, staff, alumni and local community members to read the same book and engage in dialogues across campus. Such experiences foster full participation of community members and encourage understanding diverse perspectives and experiences within UChicago.

The Common Book aims to:

  • Foster a sense of community by providing a common reading experience.
  • Examine current events and highlight diversity of lived experiences through discussions of the book and the major topics it addresses.
  • Engage all members of the campus community through a variety of academic and social programming.

Stop by a distribution location this week to pick up a free copy of The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui.

  • Thursday, December 6  at the UChicago Bookstore: 11:00am-1:00pm
  • Friday, December 7 at the Seminary Co-op: 11:00am-1:00pm

Learn more about the Common Book Initiative and upcoming Winter 2019 campus events and small group discussions on the main themes of The Best We Could Do at

Making the Most of One-on-One Conversations with your Faculty Advisor or Mentor

UChicagoGRAD’s Sounding Board offers private sessions for graduate students and postdocs to discuss optimizing their work/life balance and satisfaction, connecting with university resources, and problem-solving while navigating academic and professional careers. Make a Sounding Board appointment here. 


5 Tips for Making the Most of One-on-One Conversations with your Faculty Advisor or Mentor

  1. Organize your approach: focus the conversation on what you want to address and keep track of your questions and concerns by writing a list in advance
  2. Seek guidance: your advisor is there to provide advice, even on tough topics
  3. Invite a dialogue: sharing your ideas or needs is as important as hearing feedback and guidance
  4. Be authentic: Your honesty and clarity are essential to moving the conversation forward
  5. Engage respectfully: your success benefits everyone—remembering that is an important foundation for a productive exchange

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Gargoyle hopes you take some time to relax over the long weekend. Here are some of the Gargoyle’s favorite Chicagoland Thanksgiving activities…

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“A good communicator should be able to discuss their work with any audience.” – Allen Linton, GRADTalk Consultant

Understand more about GRADTalk in an interview with Allen Linton, GRADTalk Consultant and Graduate Student in Political Science

FAQ: GRADTalk offers individualized and programmatic resources related to public speaking, interviewing, participating in the classroom, giving classroom or conference presentations, networking, and more. The GRADTalk team works with students individually in customized advising sessions, and also offers opportunities, both on campus and off, for graduate students to practice and improve their oral communication skills.

Learn more about GRADTalk Advising from Allen Linton, GRADTalk Consultant and Graduate Student in Political Science

Why did you decide to become a GRADTalk Advisor?

“I have had a range of interview experiences – for Fellowships, Internships, and even jobs outside of academia, and I learned a lot from those experiences about how to address different audiences. Before taking this job, I worked with other graduate students who were interviewing for jobs or working on presentations, and they were always appreciative of my feedback and advice. When I saw the GRADTalk position advertised, I decided to apply.”

How long have you been a GRADTalk Advisor?

“A little over 2 years.”

What concerns do most graduate students have when they first come to GRADTalk?

“Most graduate students want help translating their lived experience into a good story. The graduate students I meet with are all qualified to do the work they are interviewing for, and my job is to help them reflect on their experiences to talk about how it translates into leadership, teamwork, project management, and goal setting skills. It’s mostly how to best tell their story.”

What do you wish graduate students knew about GRADTalk advising?

“I would want graduate students to know that we provide support for a range of oral communication needs. We see a lot of students as they are leaving the university and interviewing for academic or professional positions, but we can advise students throughout their time at UChicago. We provide well-rounded support that can be customized for students who are giving presentations in the classroom or at conferences, who are serving as a discussant for a workshop, who need assistance with classroom participation skills and much more.”

What programs does GRADTalk offer?

“In the spring quarter, we will host our second annual 3 Minute Thesis Competition, where graduate students present their research in 3 minutes for a panel of non-specialist judges. This gives graduate students a chance to practice public speaking and practical experience condensing the broad strokes of their research into a clear, concise, and exciting format. We also host a quarterly series called Expose Yourself that gives graduate students and postdocs the opportunity to practice presenting their academic work to non-specialists from across the university. You can learn more about these events in the GRAD Guide Weekly.”

What was one of your favorite experiences working with another graduate student?

“I had 5 or 6 advising sessions with a neurobiologist, and while I did not understand the technical components of his research, we were able to work closely together to revise the pacing of a 15 minute conference presentation. The focus of each of our sessions was ‘how to pace information to make it both accessible to experts and those who have general knowledge of the field.’ I provided feedback on the amount of content on each slide and the flow of information; this helped the student to use the presentation to highlight the most relevant aspects of his work and findings.”

Sign up for these upcoming GRADTalk Events via GRAD Gargoyle (Events > GRAD Events > Search and RSVP)

  • Preparing Effective Conference Presentations Monday, November 19, 12:30-1:30pm, UChicagoGRAD HQ
  • Elevator Speeches and Networking SkillsThursday, November 29, 12:30-1:30pm, UChicagoGRAD HQ
  • Public Speaking 101Thursday, January 10, 12:30-1:30pm, UChicagoGRAD HQ

The World Needs Humanists

Engage with PATHS (Professional Advancement and Training for Humanities Scholars) through Courses, Career Conversations, Networking Opportunities, and Career Treks

PATHS (Professional Advancement and Training for Humanities Scholars) is an NEH-funded initiative that prepares UChicago Ph.D. students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences to make an impact in the world. PATHS programs and resources help participants chart a course for their professional training toward careers in academia, industry, nonprofits, and government.PATHS Fall 2018 Programming at a Glance

  • Short Courses: These multipart thematic courses help you build vital professional skills. Examples include instruction in networking, conferencing, and digital literacy.
    • Building Social Connections: A Sociological Perspective  (Conferencing 101 Short Course #1) Wednesday, November 28, 5:00–6:15 p.m.
    •  “What Do You Work On?”: Starting Conversations at Conferences (Conferencing 101 Short Course #2) Tuesday, December 4, 5:00-6:15 p.m.
    • How to Deliver a Compelling Conference Presentation (Conferencing 101 Short Course #3) Thursday, December 6, 5:00–6:15 p.m.
  • Career Conversations: These exploratory sessions approach larger career questions (for example, “What Can I Do with My Humanities Ph.D?”) from a number of distinct perspectives. Often, we welcome guest speakers with extensive experience in the featured industry/profession to share knowledge and answer your questions—an invaluable experience.
  • Treks: Have you wondered what it would be like to work in a publishing house, a museum, a high school, or another place of work that interests you? Go and see! Treks are the perfect opportunity to visit spaces of work and engage in discussion with professionals and like-minded graduate students.
    • K-12 Career Exploration Trek to the University of Chicago Lab School, Monday, December 10, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

To receive updates about upcoming PATHS events, subscribe to the PATHS newsletter by emailing

Graduate Commons Program at International House

Explore the 200+ Programs, Fellowships, and Internships for Graduate Students at I-House

At International House, UChicago graduate and professional school students and scholars can find many opportunities to become involved in a dynamic and diverse community. The Graduate Commons Program at International House features over 200 programs for UChicago Graduate Students; such as:

  • 55 Graduate Fellowships: International House Non-Resident Graduate Fellowship Program has awarded 50+ awards to UChicago graduate students to help ensure the diversity of the graduate community connected to International House. More information here.
  • 10 Internships: 10 GRAD Global Impact Internships were awarded to UChicago graduate students to arrange activities through the Graduate Commons Program. GRAD Global Impact Interns will help build relationships among graduate students and postdocs and plan and implement many of the popular on-going educational, cultural, and recreational House programs for graduate and professional school students. More information here.
  • $10,000: Amount awarded from the Davis Projects for Peace grant to I-House graduate fellow to design and implement their own grassroots projects anywhere in the world with the goal of promoting world peace. For more information on the Summer 2019 program visit
  • 9 Language Tables: Language Tables have been part of the International House’s long tradition to promote multicultural environment. These informal weekly one-hour gatherings allow interested University of Chicago students and scholars, native and non-native speakers, to meet to speak in a foreign language to develop language skills and to promote cultural enrichment through conversation. Nine different languages are represented during the fall quarter; the full weekly schedule for which can be found here. New language tables are always welcome. Contact International House if you would like to start a language table.
  • 4 Day Thanksgiving Homestay Program: Thanksgiving is America’s oldest tradition with rich significance and a time when families gather together to celebrate. You are invited to become part of an American family for the holiday as a guest in one of the five participating Illinois communities: Geneseo, Morrison, Paris, Prophetstown, and Sterling-Rock Falls. The application deadline for this program is tomorrow, November 2. Details of how to apply can be found here.
  • 100+ Global Voices Lecture and Performing Art Series hosts prominent speakers, round-table discussion groups, and special interest conferences and seminars as well as performing arts programs. As a part of this program, leading figures from the world stage come to share their thoughts and exchange ideas with students and members of Chicago’s civic community on major issues facing the country and the world. The 2018-19 schedule of events can be found here.
  • And, 100+ Social Activities held annually including dance classes, the Reimaginations discussion group, Show Me Chicago trips and tours, movie nights, game nights, study breaks, watch parties, and grad mixers. Additional special programs are held during the winter break and university holidays ensuring a supportive community throughout the year.

Updates and Scheduling details about I-House upcoming programming can be found on their Facebook group for graduate students:

You can also sign up to the I-House Grad Life listserv at: