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