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That means once the money is delivered, your professors must come through with the working demonstration. It is rare that they do this by themselves. Instead, they find some very capable, young, self-motivated people who are willing to work long hours for small amounts of pay. The RA job is crucial to the academic business. They may choose to not fund your professor in the future, which will bring his or her research program to a halt. And there are many professors and other researchers chasing too few research dollars these days; it is a competitive market.

Thus, each professor wants the best students available. These students are the most capable ones who can get the research done required to fulfill the funding contracts. That means you must treat an RA like a job. You must prove to your professors that you are capable of getting the work done, being a team player, communicating your results, and most of the other characteristics needed to do well in regular jobs.

What do you get out of this? At the start, you may have to do tasks specifically related to the funding contracts. But eventually your professor must be flexible enough to fund your own specific research program that leads to the completion of your dissertation. Your stipend and tuition waiver should be enough to live on frugally without going into debt. You will learn the state of the art in your chosen speciality and conduct cutting-edge research on a subject that you find interesting and enjoyable.

The bottom line: realize that academia is a peculiar kind of business and the role you play in this enterprise. Most of those exist only because your professors have been able to raise the money to provide those to you. In turn, you must fulfill your end of the deal by doing great research with those resources. They do not have to provide you with an RA job or let you use the computing equipment they acquired. And the student who has no funding, no tuition reimbursement and no access to required computing resources is the student who leaves the university that semester.

If you go through a Ph. If you just get an M. But for a Ph. The students who do well are the ones who learn this earlier rather than later and make the necessary adjustments. Jason Hong has an article on this theme called Ph. Graduate school is not primarily about taking courses. People judge a recently graduated Ph. And, without any offense to my professors, most of what you learn in a Ph. Success in graduate school does not come from completing a set number of course units but rather from successfully completing a research program.

Graduate school is more like an apprenticeship where each student has his or her own project, and the masters may or may not be particularly helpful. Excelling in a Ph. Undergraduate education tests you through class projects that do not last more than a semester , essays, midterms and finals. For the most part, you work alone. Your professor may not know your name. Every other student in your class takes the same tests or does similar projects. But in a Ph. For most of us, this means you have to learn how to do research and all that entails: working closely with your professors, staff and fellow students, communicating results, finding your way around obstacles, dealing with politics, etc.

Carl Vogel suggests the most important personality traits of successful graduate students are being inquisitive, disciplined, obsessive and delusional certain that their research programs will uncover something new and important. One of the two biggest hurdles in completing a Ph. The other is finding an acceptable dissertation topic. But because graduate school is not nearly as exam-based as undergraduate education and requires different skills, the GRE and undergraduate grades are not as good an indicator of who will excel and who will drop out as admission committees seem to think.

Those tests do not measure creativity, tenacity, interpersonal skills, oral presentation skills, and many other important traits. The dissertation represents a focused, personal research effort where you take the lead on your own, unique project. If you expect that your advisor is going to hold your hands and tell you what to do every step of the way, you are missing the point of the dissertation.

This does not mean that guidance from professors is unimportant, just that this guidance should be at a reasonably high level, not at a micromanaging level. If you never do any tasks except those that your professor specifically tells you to do, then you need to work on initiative. Many years ago, UNC got a pair of force-feedback mechanical arms to use with molecular visualization and docking experiments. The problem was how to move them to UNC.

Joe Capowski, on his own initiative and without telling anyone , flew out to Argonne, rented a truck, drove the mechanical arms all the way back to North Carolina, and then handed the computer science department the bill! Many years later, Joe Capowski ran for the Chapel Hill city council and won a seat. Fred Brooks gave him an endorsement. I still remember the words Dr. That knowledge will come with experience.

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Generally, the senior graduate students have the most freedom to take initiative on projects. This privilege has to be earned. The more that you have proven that you can work independently and initiate and complete appropriate tasks, the more your professors will leave you alone to do what you want to do.

But nobody finishes a dissertation without being tenacious. A dissertation usually takes several years to complete. This can be a culture shock to former undergraduates who have never worked on a project that lasted longer than one quarter or semester at the end of which, whatever the state of the project, one declares victory and then goes home.

You will encounter unexpected problems and obstacles that can add months or years to the project. For example, I did not enjoy my first year of graduate school. Still, I stuck with it and when summer rolled around and I got a job in the Department, I became much more involved in research and enjoyed graduate school much more. Part of earning a Ph. One lesson I learned as a graduate student is the best way to finish the dissertation is to do something every day that gets you closer to being done. If all you have left is writing, then write part of the dissertation every day.

If you still have research to do, then do part of it every day. This level of discipline will keep you going through the good times and the bad and will ensure that you finish. Flexibility means taking advantage of opportunities and synergies, working around problems, and being willing to change plans as required. As a graduate student, you are on the bottom of the academic totem pole. Even undergraduates can rank higher, especially at private universities because they actually pay tuition! You cannot order anybody to do anything. In general, you will be in the position of reacting to big events rather than controlling them.

Therefore, you must be flexible in your approach and research program. For example, you may not have as much access to a piece of laboratory equipment as you would like, or maybe access is suddenly cut off due to events beyond your control. What do you do? Can you find a replacement? Or reduce the time needed on that equipment? Or come in at odd hours when no normal person uses that equipment?

Or redefine the direction of your project so that equipment is no longer required? Events can be good as well as bad. The difference between the highly effective graduate student and the average one is that the former recognizes those opportunities and takes advantage of them. But after he arrived, I realized my research would progress much faster if he became my advisor so I made the switch and that was a big help to my graduate student career.

Opportunities for synergy and serendipity do occur, but one has to be flexible enough to recognize them and take advantage of them. Computer Science majors are not, in general, known for their interpersonal skills. Some of us got into this field because it is easier to understand machines than people. As frustrating as computers can be, they at least behave in a logical manner, while human beings often do not. However, your success in graduate school and beyond depends a great deal upon your ability to build and maintain interpersonal relationships with your advisor, your committee, your research and support staff and your fellow students.

But I did make a serious effort to learn and practice interpersonal skills, and those were crucial to my graduate student career and my subsequent jobs in industrial research. Why should this matter, you may ask? The answer is no, because the situation is different from your undergraduate days. Patterson, published in the Fall issue of The Bent:. I first learned of the capricious, human side of organizations some 15 years ago while studying the careers of engineers and scientists. The research design required that I spend eight hours a day in one-on-one interviews. During these minutes, the subjects talked about the perils of the organizations.

Two hours was scarcely enough time to share their stories. All energetically discussed their personal careers. Some had figured out the system and learned to master it. Others had not.

As part of the research design, we asked to talk to low, medium, and high performers. This in itself was an interesting exercise. To determine performance rankings, we would place in front of a senior manager the names of the people within his or her organization. Each name would be typed neatly in the middle of a three-by-five card.

After asking the manager to rank the employees from top to bottom, the managers would then go through a card sort. Typically the executive would sort the names into three or four piles and then resort each pile again. Whatever the strategy, the exercise usually took only minutes. Just like that, the individual in charge of the professionals in question was able to rank, from top to bottom, as many as 50 people.

It rarely took more than three minutes and a couple of head scratches and grunts. Three minutes. Although politics may appear ambiguous to those on the receiving end, those at the top were able to judge performance with crystal clarity. This performance ranking conducted by individuals not involved in the interviews was then used as a dependent measure. Those of us conducting the interviews attempted to surface information independent measures that would predict the ranking.

What trashed a perfectly good career? Surely scientific prowess would have an impact. And it did. We discovered that we could tell what performance group the interviewees belonged to within a minute or two by their attitudes toward people and politics. Individuals who were ranked low by their managers spoke of organizational politics as if it were poison. They were exceptionally annoyed by the people side of the business. They frequently stated they would rather be left alone to conduct their research untrammeled by human emotions. Top performers, in contrast, found a way to work within the political system.

These were professional scientists who were often top ranked in their field. They looked and talked liked scientists. The difference between them and those ranked at the bottom of the totem pole was clear. They had found a way to make peace with organizations, people, and politics. They climbed to the top of their field by mastering both hard things and soft and gushy people. As we expanded our research to include professors, accountants, and other professionals, the findings were remarkably similar.

All found political machinations to be distasteful. Students usually look down on politics, but politics in its most basic, positive form is simply the art of getting things done. Politics is mostly about who is allowed to do what and who gets the resources money, people, equipment, etc. To succeed in your research, you will need resources, both capital and personnel. Interpersonal skills are mandatory for acquiring those resources.

If you are incapable of working with certain people or make them mad at you, you will not get those resources and will not complete your research. Furthermore, people who complete a Ph. Leadership requires good interpersonal skills to convince and motivate others to think a certain way or to take certain actions. Your potential will be limited. Here is an example of how relationships are important: As a graduate student, which group of people did I try my best to avoid offending? Was it my committee? No, because healthy disagreements and negotiations with your advisor and committee are crucial to graduating within a reasonable amount of time.

Nor was it my fellow students, because I did not need help from most of them, and most of them did not need me. The critical group was the research and support staff. These include the research faculty and all the various support positions the system administrators, network administrators, audio-visual experts, electronic services, optical and mechanical engineers, and above all, the administrative assistants. I needed their help to get my research done, but they did not directly need me.

Consequently, I made it a priority to establish and maintain good working relationships with them. Cultivating interpersonal relationships is mostly about treating people with respect and determining their different working styles. Give credit where credit is due. Acknowledge and thank them for their help.

Return favors. Respect their expertise, advice and time. Apologize if you are at fault. Realize that different people work in different ways and are motivated by different things -- the more you understand this diversity, the better you will be able to interact and motivate them to help you. For certain people, offering to buy them dinner or giving them free basketball tickets can work wonders.

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The wrong way is to go up to Marc, explain the problem, and get him to make the changes. Therefore, I should do most of the work. Expecting him to do the work shows disrespect of his time. What I actually did was to explain the problem to Marc and he sketched out a possible solution. Then I ran off and worked on my own for a few days, trying to implement the solution.

I got part of it working, but ended up getting stuck on another part. Only at that point did I go back to Marc and ask him for help. By doing this, I showed that I respected his time and wanted to minimize his burden, thus making him more willing to help me. Months later, when he and Jon Cohen needed my help in setting up a system to demonstrate some of their software, I was more than happy to return the favor. Interpersonal interaction is a huge subject and goes far beyond my description here. All I can really do in this section is hopefully convince you that these skills are vital to your graduate student career and encourage you to learn more if you need to improve these skills.

I still have a lot to learn myself. Those include psychology and understanding people. Since academia is a type of business, you will have responsibilities that you must uphold. You will be asked to greet and talk with visitors, give demos, show up to meetings, get projects done on time, etc. If you are not well organized, you will have a difficult time meeting those obligations. There are many different time management and organization skills, and you can find many books on those at your local bookstore.

This guide is not going to describe them. Find one that works for you and use it. But whatever system you pick, just make sure it works for you. I have never found anyone else who uses my filing scheme, but it is effective for me by minimizing the combined time of putting away and locating a piece of information. All that really matters is whether or not it works. One metaphor I found useful is the following: Organize your tasks as if you were juggling them. Juggling several balls requires planning and skill.

You must grab and toss each ball before it hits the ground. You can only toss one ball at a time, just as you can only work on one task at a time. The order in which you toss the balls is crucial, much as the order of working on tasks often determines whether or not you meet all your deadlines.

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Otherwise you waste too much time in context switches between tasks. Do you see jugglers try to keep each ball at the same height above the ground, frantically touching every ball every second? Three words in his guide summarize the most vital step: Kill your television. He asks you to keep your priorities straight. What is the most important thing to a Ph. It should be finishing the dissertation, not watching every episode of your favorite TV series.

I have been asked several times on how to get a good mentor or how to get professors or others in positions of power to give them opportunities that can further their careers. The best way is to get yourself noticed in a positive way, so that professors or others in positions to hand out opportunities will decide it is worth spending time mentoring you or to offer you such opportunities.

And then you must do the work necessary to exploit those opportunities. Let me share a personal story about this. Not surprisingly, Randy asked some of us to give talks. I was one of those students. After my presentation, Randy commented that he never knew that I was such a dynamic speaker. Randy was one of those speakers. They were teaching a class on Virtual Reality and wanted me to be the last speaker and talk about Augmented Reality. I accepted. This meant creating a set of notes to include with the course.

I decided I would try to define, characterize and summarize the field of Augmented Reality this was back in when the field was small enough that this was a reasonable goal for such a document! After we taught the course, Steven Feiner, who was another professor in that course, suggested that I update my notes and submit them to a new MIT Press journal called Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments. So I did the work to change my notes into a journal paper and it was accepted and published. That paper ended up becoming the single most cited reference in the field of Augmented Reality.

It opened other opportunities for me, such as serving on the Steering Committee of the premier research conference in the field, and was probably one reason I was honored as an IEEE Fellow. I did not plan any of this. Luck definitely was a factor. But the key points are: I did something that got myself noticed in a positive way by top professors in my field. Because I showed potential, they decided to take a chance on me by providing opportunities.

And most importantly, I did the work to exploit these opportunities. Now that I am a senior researcher, I see things from the perspective of those professors. If someone does something that shows potential or catches my attention, I am much more willing to invest time in such a person or to steer opportunities his or her way. Show that you are worth it, make sure that people in positions to grant things are aware of your potential, and when you get opportunities, put in the necessary effort. Now, as someone who has worked in industry for a long time and also hired people, I can confirm this is true.

Communication skills, both written and oral, are vital for making a good impression as a Ph. At a minimum, you have to defend your dissertation with an oral presentation. But you should also expect to write technical papers and reports, give presentations at conferences, and give demonstrations to groups of visitors. If you can write and speak well, you will earn recognition and distinguish yourself from other graduate students.

This is especially true when giving presentations in front of important visitors or at major conferences. Conversely, if you cannot communicate well, then your career opportunities after graduation will be limited. Professors spend most of their time communicating: teaching, fundraising, guiding graduate students, and documenting their results through papers, videos, slidesets, etc. In industry, we need people who can communicate well so they can work in teams, learn what businesses and customers need, present their results, raise funds, and transition to leadership roles in project and personnel management.

If you are technically brilliant but are incapable of communicating or working with other people, then your results will be limited to what you can accomplish alone and your career growth will have a low ceiling, both in industry and academia. Unfortunately, not all graduate students receive training in giving presentations or writing technical documents which are different from English essays.

These are skills that can be learned! I was not very comfortable giving oral presentations when I started graduate school, so I made a concerted effort to learn how to do so, by taking classes, reading about the subject, and practicing. If you need practice, try giving informal talks at research luncheons, joining Toastmasters , and studying good speakers to see what they do.

Covering everything about this subject would fill a guide by itself, and would probably be better explained in a video rather than a written document. But here are a few basic points:. Confidence is the key to giving a good presentation. And the way to gain confidence is to give good presentations. However, once you become good enough, this turns into a positive feedback cycle that can make giving talks a pleasure.

I knew Randy personally, and I had the difficult task of having to speak directly after him, not once but twice. Randy gave the talk of his life in The Last Lecture but I will tell you that was not an aberration. He was a superb speaker, and someone we can all learn a lot from. For me, I had to work hard at it. But I am proof that with hard work, one can develop good presentation skills and get noticed by someone like Randy. They give concrete approaches for crafting a message in a way that people will remember.

Writing papers and getting them published is vital for Ph. Your ability to write well significantly improves the chances that your paper will be accepted. The authors did not do a good job explaining and presenting their work. Where do you submit your papers? Your professors will help you with this choice, but in general I would suggest shooting for the best conferences or journals where you think it has a reasonable chance of being accepted. Be aware that journals can take years to publish submitted papers; the turn-around time is much faster in a conference.

Keep your committee appraised of your progress. One thing I do which few others do is write short 1 screenfull status reports, which I religiously e-mailed to my professors and team members on a weekly basis. They are also a good way for me to record my progress. If I need to remember what I got done during a six month period, I have plenty of old status reports that I can read.

When you are working in the lab and you reach a milestone or achieve a result, let people know about it! Bring in your professors and fellow students and show it off! It lets others know that you are making progress and achieving results, and you get valuable feedback and advice. The choice of an appropriate advisor is crucial to successfully completing the Ph.

Your advisor must be someone who can cover your area of specialization and someone you can get along with. When I started graduate school, I thought the advisor - student relationship was supposed to be very close, both professionally and socially. In reality, the relationship is whatever the professor and the student choose to make of it. One basic question in choosing an advisor is whether to pick a junior non-tenured or a senior tenured professor. Non-tenured professors tend to travel less and are generally more available.

It is difficult to get help from an advisor who is never in town. Non-tenured faculty have fewer advisees that you have to compete with to get time with the professor. They are more likely to be personally involved with your research -- writing code, spending time in the lab at midnight, etc.

Non-tenured faculty must be energetic and hard working if they want to be awarded tenure, and this work habit can rub off on their students. However, tenured faculty have several advantages as well. They are usually the ones with most of the money and resources to support you.

They do not have to compete with their students for publications and recognition. The advisee does not run the risk of having his or her advisor not getting tenure and leaving the university. I ended up with a non-tenured professor actually, he was not even on the tenure track at the time as my advisor, but also put several tenured professors on my committee, including some of the most senior ones in my specialty.

In that way, I got the best of both worlds: the day-to-day attention from the primary advisor, combined with the resources and experience of the committee. Professors develop reputations amongst graduate students. Some are known to graduate their Ph. Others are impossible to get hold of, so their students take forever to finish or leave without graduating. Some dictate what their advisees have to do, while others are accommodating of student interests.

Ask around. What you learn may be revealing. When picking a committee, you want to make sure they can cover all areas of your thesis. You also want to make sure that it is likely that all the committee members will be available for meetings! Including too many professors who travel often will make it difficult to get all five or six together in one room for a three hour oral exam or proposal meeting. When scheduling such meetings, start by finding times when the difficult-to-reach professors are in town, and then add in the other committee members.

When I was in graduate school, my top priority was crystal clear to me: getting out with a Ph. In retrospect, I may have been too focused. There is more to life than graduate work. Keeping your health and your sanity intact are both vital to achieving the primary goal of getting out. If you do not know how to set up your workspace for good ergonomics, learn now!

The Pascarelli reference at the end of this guide is a good book on this subject. Over a dozen of my friends and coworkers have been inflicted with this problem. In severe cases, RSI can be a career-ending injury. Prevention is the way to go. When lifting weights, I exercise to strengthen my shoulders and wrists as an additional preventative step.

Earning a Ph. You have to learn to pace yourself and take care of your body if you want to reach the finish line. Unfortunately, students often act like sprinters trying to run a marathon. You maximize your long-term productivity by not ignoring those other aspects. That was an important part of keeping my stress down and recharging my batteries. I also did some running and circuit training for exercise. For shorter breaks, I shot nerf basketballs at a tiny hoop mounted in the graphics lab and kept a guitar in my office.

Figure out what works for you. You are surrounded by so many other smart, hard working people that it is easy to feel inferior and lose self esteem and confidence. You got into graduate school because you have already shown to your professors that you have potential and skills that are not typical among most college students, let alone most people -- don't forget that.

I freely admit that this section reflects my personal bias that balance in life is important. For some people, focusing on work to the exclusion of almost everything else is how they achieve excellence. However, I chose a different set of priorities and have not regretted that choice. Decide for yourself what is most important in your life. Ideally, the job hunt begins years before you graduate. Networking is very important: while you are in the middle to late phases of your graduate studies, try to get yourself noticed by professors and industry people at other sites. One way to do this is to offer to give a talk about your work at another site.

This is not that difficult to do, since most research places love to host seminars and bring in fresh ideas. Attending conferences and working elsewhere during the summer are other ways to get exposure. Make friends with graduate students and personnel at other schools. Make and carry your own business cards. Schmooze with important visitors during major site visits. That means I was the point of contact for many speakers who visited UNC and that helped me make contacts.

Networking is important because many jobs are found and filled that way. I got my position at HRL partially because I visited there, at my own expense, two years before I even started my job hunt. In most companies, the hiring authority resides with the manager who owns the job position, not with the Human Resources department.

HR can reject a candidate, but they cannot hire a candidate. As a hiring manager, my job is to only talk directly to candidates who are best qualified for the position. As a candidate, your job is to find the individual with the ability to hire and deal with that person directly, rather than solely with the HR department. When do you start asking for interviews?


You can start when you are able to give a talk about your dissertation work. The job hunt and interviewing process can take months; factor that into your time allocation. The job supply and demand situation can vary dramatically in a few years, and anything I say here about the job market today will likely be out of date by the time you read this.

For example, during the time I was initially job hunting end of to early , good positions were not easy to find. However, around the graphics job market became very strong, with many individuals getting multiple offers with high salaries. I know many friends who found good tenure-track positions that year.

So when I revised this guide in , I said the job market was strong with high demand. Of course, the tech industry went downhill at that point. So I no longer say anything about how strong or weak the job market appears to be. Instead, I will describe two consistent but unfortunate trends I have observed since graduating:. For example, my strength was in systems, so I chose to emphasize that in my cover letters. Customize your approach to each site, if time permits.

Try to get at least one reference from outside your university. This guide is not going to cover the basics of interviewing; you can get that from many books e. However, I will mention some tips. Be prepared for hard or illegal questions, by finding polite ways of addressing the underlying concern. Do your homework on each site before interviewing! It continually amazes me that people show up for interviews without knowing anything about the institution they want to join.

If the target is a research lab for a major company, you can easily look up Wall St. Journal articles, annual reports and stockbroker reports. If you interview at a university, get their course catalog and use their numbering scheme to describe the courses you can teach. Interview to find out more about them, not just to sell yourself. Your minute research presentation is crucial; make sure you practice it thoroughly. Interviews create interviews. Broadcast this fact by keeping your interview schedule on your web page. There is an anecdote about one student who received offers to interview at many different places, but only after Stanford interviewed him!

Keep logs on who you talk to, what you talked about, and when. Short intro: what happened in the 2 nd half of ? After a ten-year period of growth and record results year-on-year, the adidas Group had to issue a profit warning at the end of July They will not change the negative media sentiment. Then you can start rolling it up that hill again. Our communication principles here at Corporate Communication include having an open dialogue with media and being approachable.

We held true to these principles even in tough times. It helped and it was appreciated by the media. Here are some statements from reporters:. It helps to hold true to your communication principles if you work with a CEO who has an understanding about how the media works.

It does not help if you have a CEO who rushes into your office every single day complaining about just another negative media report. I am fortunate to have CEO version one. It also helps if you take responsibility for negative articles that are published about your company or brand. But he would never miss to come into our office to celebrate the adidas Tracksuit Day. Learning 3: Take it slow with pitching new stories to the media Once the rock has hit the bottom, you can start rolling it up that hill by slowly pitching new stories to the media.

You should have at least two quarters of solid results under your belt before doing so. Regaining reputation is a marathon, not a sprint. In closing I wish you that your company will always perform brilliantly so that you will never have to return to this blog post again. Please wish adidas and myself the same. You will receive an email to approve your comment. It will only appear after your confirmation. You are almost done. We sent you a confirmation email. Please click the activation link within the email to complete your subscription.

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