Things To Do This Summer


Will you have time on your hands this summer? Depending on where you are in your graduate career, we’ve identified some goals you may want to tackle in the next few months to help keep you on track to graduate and prepare you for the next stage of your career.

First-Year Master and Doctoral Students

File your Memorandum of Courses or Program of Studies. The Memorandum of Courses for master’s degree students and the Program of Studies for doctoral students outline the courses you’ll take to complete your degree. Spend some time during your first summer deciding which courses you’ll take as a graduate student. If your adviser is available over the summer, you can complete this paperwork before your second year begins. See a full listing of courses for your program in the Graduate Bulletin.

Learn more about the paperwork required for degree completion at the degree requirements page on our website, or see this article from the February 2009 issue of Graduate Connections.

Review the UNL Mentoring Guidebook. Do you know what to expect from your faculty advisor? What about the expectations your adviser has for you? Learn more about getting the mentoring you need as a graduate student in our Mentoring Guidebook or this story from Graduate Connections in April 2008.

Develop an Individual Professional Development Plan. As you begin to think toward your future both in and after graduate school, it’s a good idea to develop an Individual Professional Development Plan. An IPDP will help you create goals for your professional development and chart your progress toward those goals. Revisit and revise this plan regularly as you move through your program.

Second-Year Doctoral Students

Prepare for qualifying exams. When it comes to qualifying exams, understanding the unknown is often the biggest hurdle. To learn more about the process, talk to your graduate advisor or visit with students who've already taken quals. Then spend some time getting a head start on studying for your exams.

Prepare your materials for fellowship applications. Fellowship applications aren’t due until February, but this is often a busy time and you may not be able to prepare materials if you wait until just before the deadline. The summer months are ideal for preparing or updating your CV and professional goals statement. Get advice about what makes a competitive fellowship application from the Graduate Connections archive.

Research Assistants

Develop your research statement. Your research statement is an opportunity to highlight and expand on your research experiences. This 1- or 2-page document can give prospective employers and funding committees a better picture of why your research is important and how it will advance your field.

Create a research poster. Attending conferences is a great way to meet other students and faculty in your field. Presenting a poster increases the number of connections you make. You may even meet someone interested in collaborating with you. The summer is a good time to review your research findings, look into how they can be presented at a research conference and create a research poster.

Write a research article. There are many rewards that come with publishing an article—the feeling of accomplishment and the opportunity to contribute to your field are just a few. Learn how to write a research article in just 12 weeks in this edition of Graduate Connections.

Teaching Assistants

Develop your teaching statement. A teaching statement is a description of the central ideas behind your teaching. Your teaching statement outlines your goals for student learning, methods you use to achieve these goals, how you assess student learning and plans for improving your teaching. Writing your teaching statement gives you a chance to think critically about your teaching and it can help you better understand why you teach the way you teach.

Create learner-centered objectives. Learnercentered teaching objectives play an important role in the classroom. They help students better understand what they can expect to learn throughout the semester. For instructors, learner-centered objectives help guide preparations for lectures and activities.

Attend the 2011 Campuswide Workshop for Graduate Teaching Assistants. This annual event is an opportunity for all graduate teaching assistants to learn something new about teaching undergraduate students. From helping novice teachers get started to giving veteran teachers new strategies and ideas for the classroom, the TA workshop has something for everyone.

Research resources for graduate teaching assistants on the Graduate Studies website. From our Graduate Teaching Assistant Handbook to our Teaching Documentation Program, we provide a variety of resources to help prepare graduate teaching assistants for the classroom. We recommend starting with the GTA Handbook.

Advanced Doctoral Students

Refine your teaching portfolio and application packet. As you prepare to enter the job market, make sure your teaching portfolio and application packet are up to date. Faculty and alumni from your program who have recently secured faculty positions are excellent resources if you need help preparing your materials. Learn more about preparing your teaching portfolio at our Teaching Resources webpage.

Apply for postdoctoral fellowships. Postdoctoral fellowships provide valuable experience conducting research between the time you receive your Ph.D. and begin a faculty, industry or government position. In addition to research opportunities, postdoctoral fellows can gain experience supervising student researchers and participate in the grant writing process. More information about postdoctoral fellowships is available the Office of Postdoctoral Studies. See also "On the Path...," from the April 2009 issue of Graduate Connections.