Thursday, September 29, 2011

Professional Materials for M.A. Students

This is part one of our online content for current M.A. graduate students. Some of you may be applying to PhD programs, and some of you may plan on entering the job market soon - in either case it will be helpful to have these professional materials updated and available:

Teaching Statement
Writing Samples

One of the frequently asked questions you might have is, "do I need to do a CV as an M.A. student?" Our answer is that it largely depends on where you are applying to for a job. However, CVs are not just for PhD students looking in academia. You have the opportunity, with a CV, to showcase your unique accomplishments and expertise. In a CV you can outline the courses that you have taught, or the graduate classes which you have taken. You can emphsize any special training that you have received (hybrid teaching, distance learning, ESL or Developmental Reading, composition, pedagogy). You may have some cross over with your resume, but you can also include any related work positions (like editing, tutoring, teaching). If you have been accepted to any conferences, been published in any journals, or even if your publications are "under review", you may include these details. This is also where you can highlight your involvement with extra-cirricular activities like committee work (like EGSA and Prefix, for example) or professional event planning (like symposiums). And of course you will want to include any awards or honors, fellowships or commendations, as well as any professional organiziations of which you are a member (MLA for example). Your M.A. representative to EGSA has kindly offered her CV as an example - copies of this can be found in the box outside Rome 751. We also encourage you to consult with the M.A. Coordinator Dr. Kavita Daiya who would be happy to provide you with example resumes, CVs, and any additional advice.

Similarly, you may wonder if you need a teaching statement even if the jobs to which you are applying do not require one. Let us just say, we recommend that you write one anyway. If you are applying to any sort of teaching position, it is helpful to have your teaching philosophy squared away. Even if you never hand over the written document, experience tells us that you will be required to answer to your teaching views in an interview with your future boss.

Begin paving the way for recommendations right now. You may need them for PhD applications now or in the future, and of course for a variety of job positions. Approach those faculty as early as you can with your plans and recommendation needs. Provide them with all the necessary information (forms, contact info, stamped envelopes if necessary). Make sure that they want to provide you with a favorable recommendation - this is important since you should not assume that all faculty are prepared to write in your favor. Our final piece of advice is to send "friendly reminders" to your recommenders before the deadlines - believe us, they will appreciate it.

Finally we have a few tips regarding writing samples, and in fact, this first one applies to all of your professional materials: 1) Send it around - get as many people as you can to look over your materials for feedback, editing, etc. Have someone outside the field take a look or avail yourselves of our Writing Center's excellent tutoring. If you send your samples or materials to faculty, make sure to send them reminders to give you the feedback you  need when you need it. 2) Stay within the page limit! If your applicaiton calls for a writing sample of a certain number of pages, make it happen - the people reading these samples do not appreciate longer works no matter how brilliant it is. 3) Tailor your sample choices to the job/program to which you are applying.

Please stay tuned for additional posts on resources, time management tips, and advice from faculty for M.A. students. If you have questions or would like to offer additional suggestions for professional materials and advice, please contact us - we realize that some employers are looking for outside-the-box thinking on this, so we encourage your contributions. Also, please check out our handouts from yesterday's "Plan Your M.A." workshop located outside of Rome 751

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