We rarely communicate with the attention and awareness that we should.
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Graduate school is hard, and thinking about the impression you’re making on people may feel like one more difficult to-do. However, it is mostly an issue of where and how you direct your attention. Developing your impression-management skills with the people who matter the most is one of the biggest investments you can make in your long-term career.
With commencement season just around the corner, it’s a good time for Ph.D. students to remember that you too will enter the workforce. To help you figure out your next step, a new interactive infographic allows you to explore the Ph.D. employment landscape over the past 20 years. The tool allows users to slice and dice the data based on various factors, including discipline, so tailor the information to you and find your fit.
Rather than fill the information deficit by building an arsenal of facts, scientists should instead consider how they deploy their knowledge. They may have more luck communicating if, in addition to presenting facts and figures, they appeal to emotions. This could mean not simply explaining the science of how something works but spending time on why it matters to the author and why it ought to matter to the reader. Research also shows that science communicators can be more effective after they’ve gained the audience’s trust.
Mary Dillard, director of the graduate program in women’s history at Sarah Lawrence College, says it can be particularly painful for professors of color to choose between a college with research prestige and one that offers the opportunity to help students who face significant disadvantages. “People who struggle with questions of equity really struggle with career decisions,” she says.