Agenda How to approach your MS/PhD graduate studies (All) How to give a presentation (Jason) What happens after your PhD (Tom) How to interview (Andy, Venkat, Maxine) How do you get tenure (Andy) How to write grants (Jason, Maxine) Lunch provided at 12:30
Tips on being an effective graduate student Version 2009
Crucial Skills Learning how to communicate Learning how to learn and discover on your own Learning how to get stuff done Learning how to work with others
Communication You have all experienced bad user-interfaces. Human to human communication via , writing, conversation is also a user-interface. So you need to treat the design of your human to human interface in the same manner otherwise the other person will get frustrated with you in the same manner that you get frustrated with computers.
Communication : When someone sends you try to send an acknowledgment in at most one day. When composing , don’t just dump your brain onto the page in a continuous stream of consciousness- Organize your thoughts. Provide context for the before just jumping into it- the reader may have a dozen different things to deal with and may not remember your particular issue. If the prior chain gets too long, consider summarizing it. Don’t ramble on and on. Keep it as short as possible. The longer your is, the longer it will take for someone to respond to you (especially for busy or high ranking people). Practice being polite in - something that might seam lighthearted to you may be taken the wrong way by someone else. Before you hit send, always ask yourself: Is there a chance the reader might interpret my the wrong way?
Communication: Writing Everyone, not just the native speakers, needs practice in this area. It’s not simply about concatenating facts on a piece of paper. A paper has to flow like a story. It has to be compelling like a good novel. Always ask yourself: “What is the payoff for the reader after they have read my paper? What have they learned? How has it benefited the reader?” Use a Mind Mapping tool like Freemind to help you build your story argument. Then you can easily move items in the mindmap around to form your final story. If English is not your native language, practice regularly reading a paper (not your own) or a book out loud- not just in your head. Practice wrapping your tongue around the sentences. It will help you speak more fluently and will help your writing too. Take a technical writing class. Go to the writing center for help with your own papers. Ask a colleague to be a proofreader for your paper and in return offer him/her co-authorship.
Communication: Verbal See slides on how to present your work – Conference papers – Demos Also: When a total stranger at a conference asks you “What are you working on?” Prepare and Practice an “elevator speech”. 30 second version, 1 minute, 2 minute version. In that short amount of time you need to make it sound interesting so the listener is interested in hearing more. Gauge your audience when delivering the speech: Versions for technical non-CS audience (for scientists from other disciplines), CS audience, non-technical audience (for politicians, etc)
Learning: Courses Grad school is your last real chance to take courses that you think might be interesting. Some recommended courses: Don’t overload on courses per semester, you need time to do lab-related research. Recommend 8 credits and fill up to a total of 12 with thesis credit.
Learning: Reading Papers Read as many papers as you can now when you have time. Papers give you ideas for possible thesis topics- look at “Future Work” section. Papers give you an idea of where the research community is heading- i.e. what’s hot and what’s not. Write an annotated bibliography for every paper you’ve read. This can later be used for your background research section of your thesis. When reading papers, don’t just underline - iconify. U U
Learning: Thinking about Research Questions to ask yourself: Why (from a CS standpoint) is this worth doing? Who else might have done something similar? (Google is your friend. Also ACM, IEEE digital library). How does this work help society? Pay attention to local, US and World news. How do you plan to demonstrate it? Make short-term goals that allow you to reach the long- term goal. Present these goals to your advisor, who can help you make them achievable given time constraints. How do you plan to evaluate / prove it? Keep a research notebook (either digital or paper-based).
Getting Stuff Done Explore as much as you can now. Don’t over-think a problem. You are not intellectually mature enough yet. Some times over-thinking leads to paralysis. You become too afraid to do something because you can’t pick a perfect solution. Just try it and fail and therefore LEARN. Eventually through enough failures you will get smarter and you will gradually be able to think before you do. Don’t expect to be spoon fed. We will guide you by course correcting- but we won’t give you step-by- step instructions. You need to be ready to tell us what you think the next step should be. If you can’t figure out what the next step should be, it’s ok to ask- but try to think about it before asking. The more quickly you are autonomous in driving your research the sooner you are ready to graduate. If you are stuck on a problem, don’t just keep beating your head against it. Bounce the the problem off someone.
Getting Stuff Done Inevitably at some point in your life you will be assigned something you are not entirely interested in. If it is a short task, get it done quickly so you can get rid of it. If it is a long task, try to make this task your own – by perhaps innovating on it. Try to let us know what research progress you have been making regularly - don’t wait for your advisor to ask for it. If you are new, update weekly. As you mature and you build trust with your advisor you can stretch it to bi-weekly- but no more. Otherwise we will think you haven’t been doing anything. Be on time with everything- deliverables, meetings etc. Backup your own work frequently. For a PhD student plan to write 1 paper per year. For an MS student plan to write 1 paper toward the end of your MS degree.
Work With Others Working with others is crucial to your success in the real world. The “lone wolf” does not get far. You need collaborators to get you references to job opportunities. You need collaborators to help you get funding for research. Working with others enables you to be a co-author on papers- increases the number of papers you’re credited. Important for when you graduate and for your future promotion. If you say you will do something, that’s the same as a promise. Make sure you DO IT. People will remember if you don’t. Also be on time with deliverables or pretty soon you will find people not wanting to work with you. People hate it when you cut it close to the deadline because it inconveniences the entire team. Progress is often only as fast as the slowest person. This will affect whether they want to work with you in the future. Practice voicing your opinion in meetings (however stupid you think they might be). Learn to use Skype, Polycom, iChat, WebEX etc.