Steps You Can Take

Learn to Network Effectively

Networking is important for job searches in a variety of careers. It is also an important skill to build for a long-term career in academia. For instance, the tenure review process is partly based on external review letters, which require building new relationships with senior scholars in your field. While many people associate the word “networking” with artificial or superficial interactions, experts actually recommend thinking about networking in terms of building authentic, long-term relationships. Consider attending networking workshops at the Berkeley Career Center; networking workshops and opportunities are also periodically offered by organizations like Beyond Academia and Humanists@Work, among others. For more on how to network effectively, see Spinning Your #Postac Web: Networking 101,” The Professor Is In (2014), “Elevator Speeches Made Easy,” American Psychological Association, “How Do I Create a Professional Network?” Chronicle of Higher Education (2011), and “How to Network Effectively,” Science (2015).

Organize Classroom Visits to Community Sites

In the course of teaching a class at Berkeley, your syllabus might include a visit to a community site, such as an archive, museum, business, nonprofit, or performing art center. Such excursions could be free (e.g., a visit to BAM/PFA), funded by the department, or supported by a Course Improvement Grant. These kinds of visits can be valuable opportunities to make connections with professionals in other fields, as well as a rich form of outreach and community engagement.

Connect with Alumni from Your Department

Alumni from your program or department are some of your greatest networking assets. Studying alumni’s career trajectories and making contact with them can help you advance your professional goals. One way to access these alumni is to ask your department to invite them back to speak, perhaps by developing a career panel or alumni lecture series. Another way is to search for departmental alumni using LinkedIn. You might consider creating a departmental LinkedIn or Facebook group while you are still a student (if one doesn’t already exist), to help you stay in touch with your colleagues after graduation.

Schedule Informational Interviews

If you are curious about a particular career path, or hoping to expand your network in a particular field, informational interviews should be one of the first steps in your research. It is important to approach these interviews the right way: the purpose of such meetings is not to ask for a job, but rather to seek out more information about how to prepare for a particular career, ask questions about what a job is like on a daily basis, or ask for assistance with building a relevant network. For more information, take advantage of resources and workshops from the Berkeley Career Center, and see “Actually Useful Questions to Ask in Informational Interviews,” (2015), and “What’s the Deal with Informational Interviews?” (2011) from Ask A Manager.

Pursue Part-Time Jobs, Internships, and Volunteering Opportunities

Part-time jobs, internships, and volunteering are all great ways to develop new skills, or explore a new field or position. Devoting a summer, or a few hours each week, to a job, internship, or volunteer opportunity that diversifies your work experience and skillset can be a great investment in your professional development. The Berkeley Career Center holds multiple Internship and Summer Job Fairs each year, and provides resources and advice on getting an internship as a graduate student. A number of units on campus offer graduate student positions that function as internships, including Graduate Professional Development, the GSI Teaching & Resource Center, the Townsend Center, and the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, among others.

For volunteer opportunities, posts a wide range of volunteer positions at organizations around the Bay Area, including local libraries, science and art museums, dance nonprofits, and senior centers. Positions might entail organizing an outreach campaign, collecting and analyzing data, planning events, or leading tours, among many other things. In addition, there are many part-time staff positions on campus for which graduate students may be eligible, as well as jobs specifically available to graduate students with work-study eligibility.

Curate Your Online Presence

Throughout your graduate school career, but especially when looking for jobs, it is important to have a professional online presence. Some departments allow students to create or curate the information on their departmental web page, by including information such as a photo, bio, and CV. It can also be useful to develop your own professional web page (using a tool like WordPress, Wix, or Weebly, for instance) where you can maintain an online portfolio or highlight your non-academic work experience. Consider creating profiles on Google Scholar,, LinkedIn, Twitter, or other networking sites.

It is important to consider the audience for each site, and what kind of information you want to highlight about yourself for that audience. If you don’t have a professional photo of yourself, consider getting one taken, either by a friend or at an event such as Beyond Academia’s annual Professional Profile Clinic.You may want to use an ORCID identifier to distinguish yourself from other researchers; you can contact Berkeley’s Scholarly Communication Services office for more information about this.

For more, see “Narrating Your Professional Life: Writing the Academic Bio,” GradHacker (2011), “Creating your Web Presence: A Primer for Academics,” ProfHacker (2011), “Personal Academic Webpages: An Update on How-To’s and Tips for 2015,” Townsend Center (2015), “How to Maintain Your Digital Identity As An Academic,” Chronicle Vitae (2015).