Academics, Productivity, Professional Development

GradHacker Pitches

I am submitting two pitches to GradHacker, a collaborative blog by graduate students from Inside Higher Ed, as a graduate student author. These two pitches, The Necessity of a Dedicated Backup System and The Master Plan will likely also be future posts featured on thesis threads.

The Necessity of a Dedicated Backup System
No one likes to talk about it, probably because it will be admitting that you do not do it as part of your workflow, but as graduate students we all must have a dedicated backup system. As our time in graduate school progresses, the amount of articles, research papers, and manuscripts will only accumulate and in this fast paced world, nothing is ever guaranteed. You may scoff, but I have amassed a large PDF library I would be devastated if it were lost. In fact, just this summer and conveniently while I was on a deadline, I accidentally poured a cup of iced tea all over my laptop keyboard. I immediately turned it off, set the keyboard upside down over a towel, and let it dry for 96 hours. Thankfully, there was no water damage, but considering my deadline was looming, I should have been panicking about lost material, but I was not. Because I developed a sophisticated backup system, I was able to simply check out a laptop from my department and I continued to work diligently, having access to all necessary files. I was calm, cool, and in control. This backup system consists of a three approach layering of simple ways to backup and the best part is: it runs seamlessly in the background without your notice. Not every one will work for you, but I will gladly list alternatives with the purpose of you developing your own dedicated backup system to protect your hard work.

The Master Plan
My spirit animal is Leslie Knope. Though her fictional character’s show, Parks and Recreation, ended a couple years ago, Leslie is still relevant today. I was recently moved by her spirited letter to America regarding the results of this year’s presidential elections. In her honor, I created this gif for the purpose of this second pitch.



“The Master Plan. Ah, isn’t that so awesome you can’t stand it?”


Leslie’s “master plan” is the park department budget proposal, but I also use “master plan” to describe my five year plan: The Roadmap from PhD Program to Degree Completion to Tenure Track Position at a R1 Institution.


This plan also includes my version of an individual development plan or areas I want to develop with strategies for reaching goals. This is a ten point plan that includes:

  • Candidacy
  • Dissertation
  • Professional Development
  • Publication & Presentation
  • Teaching
  • Grants/Fellowships
  • Job Search
  • Networking
  • Informational Interviews
  • Self Care/Family Planning


Some things I keep in mind as I continually update my master plan are:

  • Specific writing projects with deadlines for completion, submission, and revision (ex. publications in peer reviewed journals)
  • Graduate program deadlines for exams, proposals, and defense
  • Major conferences with deadlines for submission of abstracts and proposals (to present)
  • Job market deadlines
  • Major funding deadlines including small grants to support short research trips and large grants to fund dissertation fieldwork
  • Networking goals, including reminders to get in touch with individuals/join groups
  • Teaching dates (apply/request)
  • Submission dates for awards/honors

The master plan would entail a series of posts strategically published at appropriate times in the academic year to maximize content and relevance to other graduate students.

Wish me luck as I submit these pitches to GradHacker and let me know in the comments if these are posts you would be interested in reading!

[Photo is courtesy of Macworld and used under the CreativeCommons.]

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