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Expanding Your Professional Network


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Expanding Your Professional Network

It might seem that when you have finally graduated and also get a job, there will then be much time for yourself and maybe your family. But let's face it: professional growth beyond graduation will continue to demand a great deal from you. One of those demands is for you to expand your professional network. For one thing, you may have a job that may not be your long term platform. Even if you have what you consider to be a more permanent position, you need to think about promotion. Therein comes the need to keep connecting with and learning from the experts in your field, the need to present and publish your research in the best venues.
Relevant workshops (see Calendar for current workshops)

  • UofL Graduate Fair   
  • Search "networking," "technology" or "moving on" on the PLAN Resources page for links to workshop materials and other resources.

Student Experience

 Based on her personal experience, Amber Carrier highlights the connection between professional networking and professional development for graduate students:
Amber Carrier

      I have never been one to pass up a good opportunity.  In fact, I tend to jump toward everything that seems like it would be a great idea for me at some point down the road.  This has led to my reputation of being the woman who literally does EVERYTHING, and is part of every group, but this has served me well.  As I learned a few years ago, those opportunities one jumps on can pay off in a big way down the road.

      When I first started graduate school, I got involved with the Graduate Student Council, eventually serving as Treasurer and two consecutive terms as President.  During my term as Treasurer, Bill Pierce, then-Interim Dean of SIGS, suggested me as a potential ex-officio member of the Commission on the Status of Women (COSW), since I was the only woman in an executive role on the council.  COSW was happy to have a strong student leader as part of their group, and the women's health researcher and ardent feminist in me could not resist, so I agreed to serve.

      As it just so happens, I have a tendency to go for and apply for each and every funding opportunity that I can find.  FastWeb delivers to my email box any opportunities that it has identified for me, and it identified a prestigious fellowship at the National Academies (The group name for the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine).  Because it seemed interesting, and a great opportunity, I applied, and selected a number of boards focused on getting women involved in the sciences or promoting biological research or women's health as boards I'd prefer to be part of.  And wouldn't you know -- I was selected!  They were particularly interested in me because of the work I had done with COSW in pushing for more broad sexual harassment training among the student population.

      Though it caused at least a semester's delay in my anticipated graduation, the highly selective Christine Mirzayan Fellowship was an opportunity that I could not resist.  I spent the Fall 2008 semester in Washington, DC, working with four different groups, attending numerous conferences, learning more about how science affects policy and how policy affects science, and getting to know people in the field.  Not only do I have dozens of contacts in DC and around the nation now, but I also gained a small amount of publicity around the University of Louisville -- enough to get me put onto a few boards, particularly the Provost's Budget Advisory Committee.  And through my service with this committee, I've learned more about the inner workings of a university and its budgeting process, made a number of within-university contacts that have aided me and colleagues of mine  this year, and managed to secure an excellent letter of recommendation from the Provost herself.

    I've always been one of the busiest people I know, but sometimes a good opportunity is worth adding just a little more onto your plate.

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