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How did I get here:
Lessons from the first in
my family to go to college
@wrightingapril
Outline
• … as a first generation college
student
• … as a STEM parent
Lessons from my time …
Outline
• … as a first generation college
student
• … as a STEM parent
Lessons from my time …
And how these facets of my id...
First Generation College
Students
• First: an acknowledgment.
First Generation College
Students
• First: an acknowledgment.
• My parents always wanted me to go to college.
First Generation College
Students
• First: an acknowledgment.
• My parents always wanted me to go to college.
• We know th...
First Generation College
Students
• I’m going to college
First Generation College
Students
• Now what?
First Generation College
Students
• They were
First Generation College
Students
• They were
• But I didn’t stop asking people what their parents
did
First Generation College
Students
• But I didn’t stop asking people what their parents
did
• I cobbled together a network ...
First Generation College
Students
• But I didn’t stop asking people what their parents
did
• I cobbled together a network ...
First Generation College
Students
• Research1 supports a structured social
environment developed early as key to retention...
First Generation College
Students
• Research1 supports a structured social
environment developed early as key to retention...
First Generation College
Students
• Research1 supports a structured social
environment developed early as key to retention...
First Generation College
Students
• Research1
supports a structured social environment
developed early as key to retention...
First Generation College
Students
• The Bad News: It’s still a little tough in grad school
First Generation College
Students
First Generation College
Students
• The Bad News: It’s still a little tough in grad school
• Be proactive about self-care
First Generation College
Students
• The Bad News: It’s still a little tough in grad school
• That makes good mentors more ...
First Generation College
Students
• That makes good mentors more important
First Generation College
Students
• That makes good mentors more important
• Has connections in the types of careers you’r...
First Generation College
Students
• That makes good mentors more important
• Communicates with you openly
• Can answer you...
First Generation College
Students
• Get involved with other students who have your
same circumstances
Summary: First Generation
College Students
• Get involved with other students who have your
same circumstances early
Summary: First Generation
College Students
• Get involved with other students who have your
same circumstances early
• Be ...
Summary: First Generation
College Students
• Get involved with other students who have your
same circumstances early
• Be ...
Dr. Mom
Dr. Mom
Stubborn.
Dr. Mom
Dr. Mom
• The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky
Dr. Mom
• The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky
• Academic careers entail some amount of moving
Dr. Mom
• The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky
• Academic careers entail some amount of moving
• Grad stud...
Dr. Mom
• The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky
• Academic careers entail some amount of moving
• Grad stud...
Dr. Mom
• Parental leave basically doesn’t exist
• Graduate students almost never have access to it
• If you take time off...
Dr. Mom
• Parental leave basically doesn’t exist
• Graduate students almost never have access to it
• If you take time off...
So you want to have a kid
• Presumably without derailing your whole education
So you want to have a kid
• Choose a mentor who is family-friendly
• Do other employees have children?
• Do they give you ...
So you want to have a kid
• Presumably without derailing your whole education
• I would strongly recommend planning a bit
...
So you want to have a kid
• Presumably without derailing your whole education
• I would strongly recommend planning a bit
...
So you want to have a kid
• Once you have a confirmed pregnancy
• Make a plan:
• What needs to happen to finish your dissert...
So you want to have a kid
• Once you have a confirmed pregnancy
• Make a plan:
• Outside of work:
• Find a practitioner
• G...
So you want to have a kid
• Once you have a plan
• Hold yourself to it.
• It doesn’t get better very often.
• Document whe...
So you want to have a kid
• Immediately after
• Take time off. Rest, heal, and bond
So you want to have a kid
• When you come back
• You will be tired and fried.
• Understand what flexibility you have
• Work...
So you want to have a kid
• When you come back
• You will be tired and fried.
• Understand what flexibility you have
• Work...
So you want to have a kid
• When you come back
• You will be tired and fried.
• Understand what flexibility you have
• Work...
So you want to have a kid
• Under the ACA, you have the right to a non-bathroom
space to pump breastmilk
• And no one has ...
So you want to have a kid
• For every job interview, I was 100% honest about what I
needed.
• In 2016, I was nursing, and ...
So you want to have a kid
• For every job interview, I was 100% honest about what I
needed.
• In 2016, I was nursing, and ...
Summary: Babies in Science
• Challenging, but can be accomplished
Summary: Babies in Science
• Challenging, but can be accomplished
• Be proactive about choosing adviser, timing
Summary: Babies in Science
• Challenging, but can be accomplished
• Be proactive about choosing adviser, timing
• But be a...
Summary: Babies in Science
• Challenging, but can be accomplished
• Be proactive about choosing adviser, timing
• But be a...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
Why am I here?
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
• Balance of teaching and research tipped toward
teaching
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
• Balance of teaching and research tipped toward
teaching
• Large resources for resea...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
• Balance of teaching and research tipped toward
teaching
• Large resources for resea...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
• Balance of teaching and research tipped toward
teaching
• Large resources for resea...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
• Balance of teaching and research tipped toward
teaching
• Large resources for resea...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
• Balance of teaching and research tipped toward
teaching
• But you are still intervi...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
• Balance of teaching and research tipped toward
teaching
• But you are still intervi...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great research
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great research
• Publish papers
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great research
• Publish papers
• Apply for ...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great research
• Publish papers
• Apply for ...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great research
• Publish papers
• Apply for ...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great teaching
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great teaching
• I would strongly encourage ...
Primarily Undergraduate
Institutions
How do you balance these two needs?
• Do great teaching
• I would strongly encourage ...
‘Instructor of Record’
experience
• Some universities will allow graduate students to
be the instructor of record, some wi...
‘Instructor of Record’
experience
• Some universities will allow graduate students to
be the instructor of record, some wi...
‘Instructor of Record’
experience
• Some universities will allow graduate students
to be the instructor of record, some wi...
Choosing a PI
• At some point, you will have to have a conversation
with your PI about this
• If you know as you’re applyi...
Choosing a PI
• At some point, you will have to have a conversation
with your PI about this
• If you know as you’re applyi...
Choosing a PI
• At some point, you will have to have a conversation
with your PI about this
• If you know as you’re applyi...
“Too Good” for PUI
• “Oh, well, they didn’t get the PUI job because they had
too many grants and papers”
• Your applicatio...
“Too Good” for PUI
• “Oh, well, they didn’t get the PUI job because they had
too many grants and papers”
• Your applicatio...
Closing Thoughts
• Being a first-generation student has unique
challenges
Closing Thoughts
• Being a first-generation student has unique
challenges
• But following evidence-based retention strategi...
Closing Thoughts
• Academia poses some serious challenges for
parents
Closing Thoughts
• Academia poses some serious challenges for
parents
• But careful planning and good mentor choice
can se...
Closing Thoughts
• Primarily undergraduate institutions value a mix of
teaching and research
Closing Thoughts
• Primarily undergraduate institutions value a mix of
teaching and research
• Careful planning can set yo...
Closing Thoughts
You are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your
career
You get to decide what is important to you
You ...
Thank You
BEACON
All of you
The Heath Lab
Beacon ude wright
Beacon ude wright
Beacon ude wright
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Beacon ude wright

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Beacon ude wright

  1. 1. How did I get here: Lessons from the first in my family to go to college @wrightingapril
  2. 2. Outline • … as a first generation college student • … as a STEM parent Lessons from my time …
  3. 3. Outline • … as a first generation college student • … as a STEM parent Lessons from my time … And how these facets of my identity shaped my search for a primarily undergraduate institution job
  4. 4. First Generation College Students • First: an acknowledgment.
  5. 5. First Generation College Students • First: an acknowledgment. • My parents always wanted me to go to college.
  6. 6. First Generation College Students • First: an acknowledgment. • My parents always wanted me to go to college. • We know that students whose parents did not go to college apply less and aim for four-year degrees less.1 1https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/11/10/who-are-first-generation-students-and-how-do-they-fare
  7. 7. First Generation College Students • I’m going to college
  8. 8. First Generation College Students • Now what?
  9. 9. First Generation College Students • They were
  10. 10. First Generation College Students • They were • But I didn’t stop asking people what their parents did
  11. 11. First Generation College Students • But I didn’t stop asking people what their parents did • I cobbled together a network of other first- generation students
  12. 12. First Generation College Students • But I didn’t stop asking people what their parents did • I cobbled together a network of other first- generation students • It’s a relief to turn to someone and ask “Did you know about this?” and knowing they’ll say “No”
  13. 13. First Generation College Students • Research1 supports a structured social environment developed early as key to retention 1https://www.tgslc.org/pdf/first_generation.pdf
  14. 14. First Generation College Students • Research1 supports a structured social environment developed early as key to retention • Iowa State University has adopted these programs as ‘learning communities’ 1https://www.tgslc.org/pdf/first_generation.pdf
  15. 15. First Generation College Students • Research1 supports a structured social environment developed early as key to retention • Iowa State University has adopted these programs as ‘learning communities’ • Harvard has a first-generation union 1https://www.tgslc.org/pdf/first_generation.pdf
  16. 16. First Generation College Students • Research1 supports a structured social environment developed early as key to retention • SACNAS has many first-gen students involved • University of Wisconsin-Madison has a first-gen programs, with online resources for students and families: http://www.firstinthefamily.org • I’m First (online support network): http://www.imfirst.org/ 1 https://www.tgslc.org/pdf/first_generation.pdf
  17. 17. First Generation College Students • The Bad News: It’s still a little tough in grad school
  18. 18. First Generation College Students
  19. 19. First Generation College Students • The Bad News: It’s still a little tough in grad school • Be proactive about self-care
  20. 20. First Generation College Students • The Bad News: It’s still a little tough in grad school • That makes good mentors more important
  21. 21. First Generation College Students • That makes good mentors more important
  22. 22. First Generation College Students • That makes good mentors more important • Has connections in the types of careers you’re interested in? • Has funding to do research in which you are interested? • Takes an interest in your other goals: outreach, mentoring
  23. 23. First Generation College Students • That makes good mentors more important • Communicates with you openly • Can answer your questions about professional development • Can articulate expectations about life in their lab • Other mentees confirm the above Participation in diversity organizations
  24. 24. First Generation College Students • Get involved with other students who have your same circumstances
  25. 25. Summary: First Generation College Students • Get involved with other students who have your same circumstances early
  26. 26. Summary: First Generation College Students • Get involved with other students who have your same circumstances early • Be proactive about taking care of yourself
  27. 27. Summary: First Generation College Students • Get involved with other students who have your same circumstances early • Be proactive about taking care of yourself • Be proactive about taking care of the people who make all the hard work worth it
  28. 28. Dr. Mom
  29. 29. Dr. Mom Stubborn.
  30. 30. Dr. Mom
  31. 31. Dr. Mom • The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky
  32. 32. Dr. Mom • The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky • Academic careers entail some amount of moving
  33. 33. Dr. Mom • The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky • Academic careers entail some amount of moving • Grad student and postdoc salaries aren’t great
  34. 34. Dr. Mom • The choice to have kids in academia is really tricky • Academic careers entail some amount of moving • Grad student and postdoc salaries aren’t great • Parental leave basically doesn’t exist
  35. 35. Dr. Mom • Parental leave basically doesn’t exist • Graduate students almost never have access to it • If you take time off, that will likely affect your insurance coverage • Postdocs are sometimes treated better, depending on how they are classified
  36. 36. Dr. Mom • Parental leave basically doesn’t exist • Graduate students almost never have access to it • If you take time off, that will likely affect your insurance coverage • Postdocs are sometimes treated better, depending on how they are classified You cannot rely on HR to know what is up You cannot rely on campus women’s centers to know what is up
  37. 37. So you want to have a kid • Presumably without derailing your whole education
  38. 38. So you want to have a kid • Choose a mentor who is family-friendly • Do other employees have children? • Do they give you info on family insurance, local schools, etc? • Look at the graduate school webpage - do they have information for grad students with kids?
  39. 39. So you want to have a kid • Presumably without derailing your whole education • I would strongly recommend planning a bit • Things to think about: • Needing to collect in remote or dangerous field locations; Needing to work with hazardous chemicals
  40. 40. So you want to have a kid • Presumably without derailing your whole education • I would strongly recommend planning a bit • Things to think about: • Needing to collect in remote or dangerous field locations; Needing to work with hazardous chemicals There is also no perfect time, and you get to prioritize your life and your family
  41. 41. So you want to have a kid • Once you have a confirmed pregnancy • Make a plan: • What needs to happen to finish your dissertation? • What are the impediments? • Make time-specific goals • Meet with your PI - what do they see as your challenges?
  42. 42. So you want to have a kid • Once you have a confirmed pregnancy • Make a plan: • Outside of work: • Find a practitioner • Get on daycare lists • Read the grad student handbook
  43. 43. So you want to have a kid • Once you have a plan • Hold yourself to it. • It doesn’t get better very often. • Document where you are in your work often, particularly if your work is collaborative, and particularly towards the end.
  44. 44. So you want to have a kid • Immediately after • Take time off. Rest, heal, and bond
  45. 45. So you want to have a kid • When you come back • You will be tired and fried. • Understand what flexibility you have • Working from home is hard
  46. 46. So you want to have a kid • When you come back • You will be tired and fried. • Understand what flexibility you have • Working from home is hard
  47. 47. So you want to have a kid • When you come back • You will be tired and fried. • Understand what flexibility you have • Working from home is hard • Expect that you will have to experiment with your schedule, where you work and what hours are good for what activities
  48. 48. So you want to have a kid • Under the ACA, you have the right to a non-bathroom space to pump breastmilk • And no one has the right to make you feel bad for doing that • If where to pump isn’t clear, ask someone
  49. 49. So you want to have a kid • For every job interview, I was 100% honest about what I needed. • In 2016, I was nursing, and I kicked back multiple schedules that didn’t have enough pumping breaks • This year, I asked about daycare at every school
  50. 50. So you want to have a kid • For every job interview, I was 100% honest about what I needed. • In 2016, I was nursing, and I kicked back multiple schedules that didn’t have enough pumping breaks • This year, I asked about daycare at every school Wrote about my search here: https://paleantology.com/ 2017/06/06/getting-settled/
  51. 51. Summary: Babies in Science • Challenging, but can be accomplished
  52. 52. Summary: Babies in Science • Challenging, but can be accomplished • Be proactive about choosing adviser, timing
  53. 53. Summary: Babies in Science • Challenging, but can be accomplished • Be proactive about choosing adviser, timing • But be aware that there’s never a “great” time (except in hindsight) and you’re surrendering a lot of control
  54. 54. Summary: Babies in Science • Challenging, but can be accomplished • Be proactive about choosing adviser, timing • But be aware that there’s never a “great” time (except in hindsight) and you’re surrendering a lot of control • Know your rights, responsibilities and challenges, and plan around them
  55. 55. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions
  56. 56. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions Why am I here?
  57. 57. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions • Balance of teaching and research tipped toward teaching
  58. 58. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions • Balance of teaching and research tipped toward teaching • Large resources for research might not be available
  59. 59. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions • Balance of teaching and research tipped toward teaching • Large resources for research might not be available • Graduate students may not be available
  60. 60. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions • Balance of teaching and research tipped toward teaching • Large resources for research might not be available • Graduate students may not be available • Mentorship of undergraduates is key
  61. 61. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions • Balance of teaching and research tipped toward teaching • Large resources for research might not be available • Graduate students may not be available • Mentorship of undergraduates is key
  62. 62. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions • Balance of teaching and research tipped toward teaching • But you are still interviewed and hired based on your research • Graduate students may not be available • Mentorship of undergraduates is key
  63. 63. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions • Balance of teaching and research tipped toward teaching • But you are still interviewed and hired based on your research • Graduate students may not be available • The school must feel that your research is feasible with the school’s level of resources and that you will contribute strongly to undergrad ed
  64. 64. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs?
  65. 65. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great research
  66. 66. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great research • Publish papers
  67. 67. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great research • Publish papers • Apply for funding
  68. 68. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great research • Publish papers • Apply for funding • Pursue opportunities to give talks, network and get involved
  69. 69. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great research • Publish papers • Apply for funding • Pursue opportunities to give talks, network and get involved • Mentor students in research
  70. 70. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great teaching
  71. 71. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great teaching • I would strongly encourage you not to lean too heavily on TA experience as evidence of education success
  72. 72. Primarily Undergraduate Institutions How do you balance these two needs? • Do great teaching • I would strongly encourage you not to lean too heavily on TA experience as evidence of education success • If you are able to get ‘Instructor of Record’ experience, do that instead
  73. 73. ‘Instructor of Record’ experience • Some universities will allow graduate students to be the instructor of record, some will not • Some universities and PIs allow students to do a semester of teaching at a community college, or local junior college
  74. 74. ‘Instructor of Record’ experience • Some universities will allow graduate students to be the instructor of record, some will not • Some universities and PIs allow students to do a semester of teaching at a community college, or local junior college • Domain-specific workshops often allow PhD students to lead sessions and develop curricula • Software and Data Carpentry
  75. 75. ‘Instructor of Record’ experience • Some universities will allow graduate students to be the instructor of record, some will not • Some universities and PIs allow students to do a semester of teaching at a community college, or local junior college • Domain-specific workshops often allow PhD students to lead sessions and develop curricula • Software and Data Carpentry
  76. 76. Choosing a PI • At some point, you will have to have a conversation with your PI about this • If you know as you’re applying to graduate school, have a conversation about it with them
  77. 77. Choosing a PI • At some point, you will have to have a conversation with your PI about this • If you know as you’re applying to graduate school, have a conversation about it with them • Ask about where lab alums are placed
  78. 78. Choosing a PI • At some point, you will have to have a conversation with your PI about this • If you know as you’re applying to graduate school, have a conversation about it with them • Ask about where lab alums are placed • Ask about programs to help you get really good IoR experience Many of the facets that make you competitive at R1 make you competitive at PUI, and vice versa
  79. 79. “Too Good” for PUI • “Oh, well, they didn’t get the PUI job because they had too many grants and papers” • Your application packet should communicate your sincerity: • Why you want this job. • Why you want to work at this type of institution. • Why you will successfully serve the teaching and research mission of this type of school.
  80. 80. “Too Good” for PUI • “Oh, well, they didn’t get the PUI job because they had too many grants and papers” • Your application packet should communicate your sincerity: • Why you want this job. • Why you want to work at this type of institution. • Why you will successfully serve the teaching and research mission of this type of school. Your success will not dictate that you must do R1
  81. 81. Closing Thoughts • Being a first-generation student has unique challenges
  82. 82. Closing Thoughts • Being a first-generation student has unique challenges • But following evidence-based retention strategies can be helpful
  83. 83. Closing Thoughts • Academia poses some serious challenges for parents
  84. 84. Closing Thoughts • Academia poses some serious challenges for parents • But careful planning and good mentor choice can set you up to have the life you want while getting a PhD
  85. 85. Closing Thoughts • Primarily undergraduate institutions value a mix of teaching and research
  86. 86. Closing Thoughts • Primarily undergraduate institutions value a mix of teaching and research • Careful planning can set you up for maximum career flexibility
  87. 87. Closing Thoughts You are in the driver’s seat when it comes to your career You get to decide what is important to you You get to decide how to pursue your goals
  88. 88. Thank You BEACON All of you The Heath Lab

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