Back To School
The long hot days of summer are turning to the brief and—here in Oregon—soggy days of fall. For grad students and faculty alike it’s a return to the hectic rush of the academic year. We have compiled a list of COMPASS blog posts that can help those of us headed back to school… Best Foot Forward The beginning of the school year means a slew of introductory conversations with new colleagues and students. What better opportunity to practice giving a brief and compelling picture of your work? Our fundamental tool for finding the relevance of your science is the Message Box. If you’ve never used this tool, “Getting to the “So What?” of Your Science” by Heather Galindo has some useful advice and an example from her doctoral research. Meeting new folks is also an opportunity to be more intentional about how you establish personal and professional boundaries. This post considers various approaches to social media, student/teacher relationships, and professional networking events. For more formal opportunities to share you work, from conferences to lab meetings, compelling and focused presentations are key. “How to Make Yourself Presentable”, on designing presentations for both scientific and nonscientific audiences, can help you refine your core messages and hone your visuals. Time and Energy Management It’s not just your own presentations that can make conferences a daunting experience, especially for new grad students unfamiliar with the territory. Liz Neeley’s post on using Twitter to plan, participate in, and dive deeper into conference sessions, and Heather Galindo’s post, the delightfully titled “Confessions of a Conference Zombie”, can help you avoid the catatonia of information overload. Conferences aren’t the only opportunities we have to wrestle with an overabundance of knowledge. “Staying Afloat in a Sea of Information” and our post on quickly assessing the landscape of a new scientific discipline, are great guides to staying current on the context that makes your science relevant. But even the most savvy of task managers eventually feels the weight of an overfull plate, particularly if we don’t take time to recharge. Karen McLeod’s post on bringing attention to personal energy management is a great opportunity to take stock of what drains and renews your enthusiasm. Planning for Engagement For faculty who are interested in outreach and engagement, but wary of the time commitment, Erica Goldman’s post on balancing these activities with the expectations of your academic career includes strategies for integrating policy engagement in your teaching. If you are a grad student who’s caught the communication bug, take a look at Sarah Sunu’s tips for building your communication skills while in grad school and our advice for both grad students and faculty about how to fund your outreach efforts. You may also want to check out the latest updates on COMPASS’ #GradSciComm project, an effort to make communication training an integral part of STEM graduate education. And for grad students whose interest in communication has become a career aspiration, Liz Neeley’s post on building toward a science communication career and Erica Goldman’s post on seeking a career outside of academia can help you plan your exit from the ivory tower. Whatever your career path or your level of engagement outside of academia, the start of the new school year is about clean slates, establishing useful habits, and discovering new insights and new opportunities to practice good communication. We love to hear advice and reflections from our readers, so let us know how your term or semester is shaping up, and how you plan to tackle the coming year. Class dismissed. Leslie Rutberg worked at COMPASS from 2014-2015. This post was transferred from its original location at www.compassonline.org to www.COMPASSscicomm.org in 2017.