Tell the world about yourself!
Our 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, and 40th (!!) book winners are Alicia Camuy, Allana Stark, Kylin Wang (prospective PhD students), Jason Lin, and Kayley Okst (current PhD students)! Be sure to enter the book giveaway for your chance to win a copy of A Field Guide to Grad School! More details below (at the end of the post).
Self promotion is tough for so many people! Yet, it is key when wanting to disseminate work, connect with others, and make the most of available (known and unknown) opportunities. Of course, how self promotion is interpreted by others can be tricky—I’m not going to pretend it’s not. Further, what it looks like can differ for different people. For example, women tend to subjectively describe their own abilities less favorably than men (and this is a gender gap present as early as middle school; Exley and Kessler 2021). Unfortunately, particularly for folks who dislike publicizing success, knowing how to promote oneself is an important skill to develop and practice. So, what can you do to help get yourself and your work out there for others to appreciate?
Share successes. Although you may want to forego sharing your successes with others to avoid appearing boastful (and even hurting feelings), doing so may not be in your best interest. First, good friends (and mentors) want to know when you’ve succeeded (and I’m sure you want to know when your friends have succeeded as well)! Second, Dr. Annabelle Roberts and colleagues found that hiding success can actually negatively affect relationships (Roberts et al. 2020). If not sure how to share a win, consider saying something like: Something wonderful happened to me today and I’d like to share it with you. It’s also important to keep your advisors and mentors updated on your successes so that they can celebrate you, know how to best advocate for you, and help you identify new opportunities.
Harness the power of #AcademicTwitter. Yes, Twitter can be awful. However, #AcademicTwitter has, at least for me, been a good experience (with a few exceptions, of course). Here are some ways you can put yourself out there:
Share your own work: When sharing posters, preprints, and published papers, tell people what you want them to know. You can do this by creating threads and highlighting key findings. Sharing your work in this way helps you disseminate your findings more broadly, moving them from behind a paywall, and also allows users to directly engage with you by commenting, asking questions, and even following. Click here for a great example from Dr. James Dunlea showing how to announce a newly published paper.
Amplify the work of others: In addition to sharing your own work, you should also consider sharing the work of others. First, it’s good to amplify others’ voices (presumably you’d like others to amplify your voice as well). Second, doing so demonstrates your interest in engaging with the broader academic community. This is also a form of networking which has the added bonus of helping you stay on top of new findings and connecting with others who share your interests. On Twitter, amplifying others can take at least five forms: 1) Simply retweeting someone’s tweet without adding text; 2) Retweeting someone’s tweet and adding text (e.g., highlighting a key finding and/or connecting a finding to your own work); 3) Commenting on someone’s tweet; 4) Generating your own tweet independent of someone else’s and commenting on their work; and 5) Sharing someone’s tweet in a private message. Check out Dr. Sa-kiera Hudson’s Twitter account if you’d like to see what it looks like to truly amplify others’ voices.
Let people know where you’ll be: I’m not suggesting that you share when you’re on vacation; however, that can be fun (and you may be able to make an unexpected academic friend in a new location!). Rather, I recommend letting people know when you’ll be attending conferences and when you’re presenting in any capacity (e.g., poster, talk, panel). Conference schedules can be difficult to navigate and knowing which words (and scholars) to search may not always be obvious. Help interested attendees find you and your work! Click here for a helpful example from Dr. Jessica Gladstone showing how to promote a conference talk and symposium.
Let people know what you want. I used to think that all awards were earned organically (i.e., someone was nominated without knowing they were nominated). Come to find out, this is not the case! People often know they’ve been nominated for an award and have even asked to be nominated for it. The same goes for other things like being asked to participate in ad hoc reviewing or department committees. So, let your advisor (or mentors) know that you’d like to be considered for different opportunities, like ad hoc reviewing. Let potential recommenders know that you’d like to be nominated for a particular award. Never assume anyone can read your mind and know what you want, so be your best advocate whenever you can (and encourage your friends to advocate for themselves, too!). By the way, since learning the power of asking as a graduate student, I’ve since asked to be nominated for teaching and research awards and have asked to be considered for department and discipline-level committees, among other things. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not (e.g., I’m nominated and don’t “win” or I’m not even nominated).
SCHOLAR PROFILE #19: DR. NIRAJANA MISHRA
The purpose of these profiles is to highlight and connect you to scholars at different career stages doing interesting and important research and service work.
This week, we get to learn about Dr. Nirajana Mishra, who is a postdoctoral research associate at the Yale School of Management.
Now, let’s learn about Dr. Mishra’s academic journey.
What are your research interests?
I am interested in technology and financial decision making.
With whom did you work for your PhD?
My advisor was Dr. Carey Morewedge (Professor of Marketing at Boston University’s Questrom School of Business).
Why did you choose your PhD institution and advisor(s)?
I wish I had a better answer to this one. But for me, I wanted to be close to Connecticut. So, I applied to very few schools. Since I came from an economics background, I assumed that the process of advisor selection happened post-admission rather than pre-admission and did not think about that as a part of my application.
The marketing department at Boston University valued my industry experience which is rather unusual. And after that, once I was admitted, finding an advisor was much more organic for me. But this approach is not something that I would recommend. It is always crucial to have an overlap of research interests with your advisor. So find someone willing to invest in you, someone who has the time to engage, interact and mentor you and whom you like working with. Talking to their past students might be an excellent way to learn about their working styles. A current PhD student at the time also suggested building a rapport with my advisor in non-academic settings (post-admission).
Please share more about your academic journey.
In my work experience, which lasted almost a decade, in the financial services sector for American Express (AMEX), Citi, and GE Capital in India and the US, I got a fantastic opportunity to interact directly with consumers and clients. My last job was with American Express in their NYC office with their Merchant Services division. But before joining AMEX in the US, I did some voluntary assignments for a few months for the Yale Center of Consumer Insights. I had some time before I joined my new role in the US. That gave me my first exposure to research in marketing and sparked my passion for academic research in consumer psychology.
My PhD journey was challenging but fascinating. My biggest takeaway as a person coming from the corporate sector was the rigor embedded into us as students and the fact that we were creating data through experiments in behavioral labs or fields, which is like a gold standard in determining causality.
How did you navigate the PhD application process?
I have to admit that I did not navigate the PhD application process in the best way. My main focus was on getting all the materials for the application. But there are two things that I did that I think helped me. First, I audited some (two) PhD classes - it was more to evaluate whether I was ready to take that plunge from the corporate world into academics. I did put all my effort into those classes and also ended up getting a letter of recommendation. That boosted my package immensely as my other two recommendation letters were from economics. Second, in the two schools close to where I stayed, I met the graduate director, apprised them of my slightly unusual background, and asked them for their guidance. Both the graduate directors were very supportive in guiding me through the process. So, getting in touch with graduate directors is worthwhile.
Some of the things that I did not do but are useful are as follows:
This is the rather obvious but perhaps the most important one! Have a research theme clearly mentioned in your statement of purpose (SOP) and some of the people you could work with within that school in that area. I did not have any clearly defined research area. I am one of those who discovered it in my first two years. But that is not something I would recommend. Though, I had the advantage that my academic interests were aligned with my corporate experience. In hindsight, depending on one's research interests, it might also make sense to write to two-three professors whose work you like and write to them. Even if they do not reply, your name might strike a chord when they look at the applications.
Why that specific school? Even if there were logistical reasons, it is always good to mention them. I wanted to be close to Connecticut, and I said that in my SOP and conversations with the graduate directors.
Prior lab experience: I have seen that it always helps. For instance, I know one PhD student who first got herself a year of lab experience and then re-applied to PhD programs and was successful.
Any coding skills such as R and STATA should be helpful. I would not suggest it for the purpose of the application. But when there is an opportunity to learn them, it is useful.
Lastly, it goes without saying that letters of recommendation matter a lot!!! Letters play an instrumental role as they are probably a powerful signal to the committee. A letter from a professor in your field of study that can elaborate on how you are as a student and how likely you will succeed in the course work is necessary. However, what is equally and probably more important is information on how you will be as a researcher. Of course, not all professors observe you in both capacities but find the one who has observed you both as a student and researcher (through lab or research assistant work). Alternatively, get a mix of letters that can signal your academic ability and your ability to succeed as a researcher.
What is one bit of advice you'd like to give new (first-year) PhD students?
At the risk of being verbose, I will give two suggestions.
Take some statistics and basics of machine learning courses. I did not take any machine learning courses. But I do see the new cohort of students doing that, which is excellent! It might not seem that useful initially, but over time it will.
Having a group of peers to share academic wins and losses (and even non-academic ones) is beneficial. I could not do it as I lived in Boston for a few days and then went to Connecticut where my family lived, and then COVID hit. But I joined a writing group and it helped me immensely. Knowing your peers' struggles are similar to yours (rejections and so on) and seeing them moving on gives one grit and focus. I would recommend finding such a group of peers in your PhD institute or joining a virtual group (like #100DaysOfWriting!!)
Is there anything else about you or your journey that you’d like to share?
Before joining academics, I had worked in the corporate sector. I have interacted with different global teams (US, Asia, Europe, Latin America), led teams, and run campaigns with actual P&L (profit-loss) implications. So, I was assuming that a PhD would be a lot easier! And how mistaken I was! It is hugely challenging in many ways. We have the usual suspects:
Studies not working as planned
Main effects vanishing after four studies
Besides that, I was a mom to a 1-year-old when I joined the program, had a breast cancer scare in my 2nd year, and in the second half of my third year, COVID hit. But, I realized that belief in oneself despite the initial setbacks and patience is the key to completion.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly to talk more! You can reach me at email@example.com.
Many thanks to Dr. Mishra for sharing more about her academic journey!
EXTRACURRICULAR #2: DR. TISSYANA CAMACHO
Many scholars display amazing talents outside the classroom, lab, studio, etc. In “Extracurricular,” I would like to share these talents to highlight the importance of pursuing passions outside one’s typical work (whatever typical means for you). These “outside” talents often inform our research approaches and, importantly, help us think about things in new ways. If you have something you’d like featured, please let me know! I would love to see your creations of any kind. I welcome contributions from folks at all career stages.
For this second installment, let’s admire Dr. Tissyana Camacho’s beautiful pottery! You can see more of Dr. Camacho’s pottery on Instagram @ceramica.camacho.
Pottery has been a meditative practice for me. It allows me to focus on one thing, undistracted, for long periods of time. It has allowed me to tap into my creative energy, which is a nice escape from the constant analytic work of research. I’ve also been able to meet a new community of people! - Dr. Camacho
In this section, I highlight resources you may find helpful as you navigate the PhD application process as well as the PhD itself. This week, I’m highlighting two Twitter threads listing helpful research apps/websites and accounts to follow on #AcademicTwitter.
Twitter Threads: Twitter can be a great place to connect with other folks folks in academia via #AcademicTwitter. I’ve had wonderful experiences meeting up with Twitter connections at conferences and have even formed some new friendships! It can also be a difficult place (think back to my post about social comparison). So, jump in when you’re ready, but never hesitate to take a break or even mute certain words and phrases!
7 academic accounts to follow from @LNivisonSmith
Favorite academic apps and websites from @ZoriAmber
How to reach me: You are always welcome to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find me on Twitter @tweetsbymidge.
Want to support my #hiddencurriculum efforts? Consider “buying me a coffee” via Ko-fi. All funds will be put back into my Let’s Talk Grad School initiatives (i.e., weekend groups, buying/mailing books, etc.). Learn more about my efforts here.
Let’s give away some books: Readers located in the United States and Canada are eligible to enter the book giveaway to receive a copy of A Field Guide to Grad School by Dr. Jessica Calarco. To do so, complete this survey and note that you only have to complete it once to be entered in all subsequent giveaways! I do hope to expand the reach of the giveaway; however, at the moment, the shipping costs are too great to scale. If you’d like to talk about ways your institution could secure an electronic (or hard) copy, please let me know.
Until next time!