Welcome to the new section of my blog dedicated to professional development for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. You’re the Next Generation of scholars, leaders, faculty members, educators, speakers, and entrepreneurs! I’m excited for the journey ahead of you and I hope you are too!
For more than a decade, I worked at a research university developing programs and services specifically for graduate students and postdocs who wanted to learn how to teach and how to prepare for jobs both within and beyond the academy.
And now I’d like to continue that work by providing resources and advice to support you in your journey through and beyond your graduate and postdoc career, especially as it relates to teaching and learning.
Let’s kick things off with one of the most important topics that will apply to you no matter where you are in your journey right now: transferable skills. It may not sound exciting at first, but it is one of the most important factors in positioning yourself as a competitive candidate in any position in any profession.
It’s critical to know how to take the skills you have now and transfer them into the skills you need for the job you want in the future. The skills you gain in your graduate and postdoc experience will become your competitive advantage when applying for jobs.
How to miss out on your greatest competitive advantage
Many graduate students and postdocs come to me and explain they have been told by an advisor, “If you’re not interested in a teaching position, then take it off your CV, don’t write about it in your cover letter, and don’t mention it in your interview. Teaching doesn’t matter for a position outside of academia anyway.”
If you take that advice, you are missing out on what could potentially be your greatest competitive advantage.
Why? Because teaching experience can be your greatest competitive advantage.
In a study published on InsideHigherEd.com, researchers determined that graduate students who teach as part of their graduate school experience are more likely to finish their degree on time and they are more competitive for jobs. After working with more than 7,000 graduate students and postdocs, I know teaching experience has become almost a requirement if you’re looking for positions in academia.
But what if you’re looking for positions outside of academia? Does teaching experience matter?
What if you’re looking for positions in industry? What if you’re interested in working for the government? What if you found a wonderful nonprofit you’d like to work for? What if you want to start your own business? What if you aren’t sure yet?
The skills you gain when you teach are relevant to all of these positions which is why teaching is such a valuable experience in graduate school and your postdoc career. If you have the chance to teach, you should.
Here are 10 transferable skills in teaching which will are valuable to any position in any profession:
Over the next few weeks, I will publish a series of blog posts focusing on each one of these skills.
- Communication skills
- Presentation and facilitation skills
- Organizational skills
- Feedback and evaluation
- Leadership and mentoring
- Management and supervision
- Creativity and innovation
- Listening and reflection
- Critical thinking
- Learning skills
In each upcoming post, you will be able to see examples of how to convey these skills in your job application materials, your interview, and in your teaching demonstration, presentation, or job talk. I’ll also offer tips and recommendations to help you leverage your teaching experience so you can confidently take the next step in your career.
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Flaherty, C. (March 8, 2016). The power of grad student teaching. Insider Higher Education. Online at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/03/08/study-suggests-graduate-student-instructors-influence-undergraduates-major