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Invest in Your Future, Summer Edition: A Graduate Success Symposium, May 29

April 25, 2019

May 29, 2019
8:30 am-4 pm, Edward St. John Teaching and Learning Center

Have some big plans for how to make the summer productive? Need a jump start to be sure you're ready for fall? Join the Graduate School for a day of learning to set you up for a summer of success. Spend the day with your fellow students taking a deep dive in one of four tracks:

  • Career and Professional Development for late-stage doctoral students
  • Writing Your Way Through Summer and
  • Summer Self-Care: Finding Balance
  • Grant Writing Session with Faculty and Peer Review (Reserved for postdoctoral scholars currently writing a grant application.)

Event is open to all doctoral and MFA students, and all postdocs. Some pre-work will be required for all tracks.

We ask that you please plan on spending the entire day at the event. The complete schedule, track and session descriptions are below. To get the most out of the event, we ask that attendees complete pre-work for each of the tracks. About one week before the event, we will email you to let you know what work needs to be completed ahead of the event.  By doing this pre-work, you will be able to dive right into each of the sessions in your track!

This event is free, but space is limited so a $20 refundable deposit is required to fully register for the event. Register now!

Registration link:

To pay deposit:

Registration closes on May 23rd or when the event reaches capacity. Please fill out the registration form and pay your deposit in order to fully register for the event. Once we receive both of these, we will email you to confirm your spot at the symposium.

Deposit: $20: This event is free, but a deposit is required to register. The Graduate School will initiate the process for returning deposits to all attendees within 5-7 business days after the event.

Last day to cancel for a full refund: May 23, 2019 at 5pm EDT. Please email the event organizer at at anytime to cancel your registration. If you do not attend, and do not cancel your registration by emailing by May 23, 2019 at 5pm EDT your deposit will not be refunded.


8:30-9:00: Check in, light breakfast

9:00-9:45: Welcome/opening session 

9:55-11:10: Session 1

11:10-11:20: BREAK

11:20-12:35:  Session 2 

12:35-1:30 LUNCH

1:30-2:45: Session 3

2:45-4:00: Social hour


Track 1: Summer Self-Care: Finding Balance

Summer is a great time to reflect on priorities and to reset and find balance after a long academic year.  In this track, we will address several challenging topics and provide tools to help you negotiate them.

Session 1:  (75 minutes) Difficult Conversations with John Robinette from Center for Leadership & Organizational Change (CLOC)

In our personal and professional lives, we typically accomplish tasks in collaboration with other people. We coordinate these various tasks through conversations. When we experience a breakdown in the conversations, we sometimes require a difficult conversation to get back on track. In this session we will understand the barriers to having successful, yet difficult, conversations, and learn and practice a model for difficult conversations.

Prework for this session

Watch this TEDx video of Susan Scott, Author of the books Fierce Conversations and Fierce Leadership

Session 2: (75 minutes) Financial Wellness Now and Beyond with Dorothy Nuckols, Financial Wellness Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences University of Maryland Extension

Beyond the "B" word:  financial independence is about much more than making budgets. It is an essential component of achieving life priorities. In this workshop we will provide the guidance necessary for graduate students to control your financial future by strategizing achievable spending plans, making credit work for you and not against you, demystifying the basics of health insurance, and effectively managing your finances. This workshop will focus on providing the framework and knowledge that is necessary to make responsible decisions for a financially successful future.

Prework for this session includes: 

Watch these videos:

And, please provide any questions you would like to have answered at the session.  Questions should be in the general areas of saving and budgeting, credit, insurance, and banking and sent prior to Friday, May 24th.

Session 3: (75 minutes):  Recognizing Stress in Others and Yourself with Kevin McGann, Staff Counselor, UMD Counseling Center

In the past year, there has been increased attention to what is being referred to as a mental health crisis among graduate students.  One way to address this crisis is to recognize the signs of stress, in both yourself and others. This session, conducted by Kevin McGann, Ph.D., counselor in the UMD Counseling Center, will be a follow-up discussion to the Kognito videos.  

Pre-work for this session includes:

“Recognizing stress in others and yourself,” registrants are asked to watch the online Kognito videos available at the Counseling Center’s website. Please watch the videos that are available for students; there are three and watching will take up to an hour.

Track 2: Pilot of Job Search Boot Camp for PhDs

Are you leaving Maryland for in the next 12  months for a “real job”? This track is SPECIFICALLY  for soon-to-graduate PhDs (December 2019 and May 2020) and postdocs nearing the end of their contracts at Maryland. Pre-work is required and will take approximately 2 hours total and can be completed in small chunks.

Review the Pre-work Checklist for the Job Search Boot Camp

This track will provide 225 minutes of  uninterrupted, high-quality time in which you will  work in a small interdisciplinary group of PhDs and postdocs to:

  • implement  the most effective job search techniques

  • polish your resume/cv, and cover letter

  • practice responses to typical interview questions

After the session, you will have the necessary tools and knowledge to launch or continue an effective search for your next position during the summer.

Session 1- (75 minutes) EFFECTIVE Job Search Processes

This session builds on the basics of job searching that you learned in the PhD Career Navigator Modules 6 & 7.Time will be spent setting up at least three informational interviews and crafting a list of employers of interest.

Session 2-  (75 minutes) PERFECTING Your Job Search Documents

You must bring drafts of your current CV, resume and cover letter to this session AND a job posting that looks interesting to you. Don’t panic--a first draft of your documents is fine! During the session, you will get feedback on your documents and have time to make some revisions based on what you hear.

Session 3-  (75 minutes) PRACTICING POWERFUL Interview Techniques

This session will focus on how you will respond to a few of the most common and important interview questions. Mastering a strong response to, “Tell me about yourself” and using the STARR method are proven ways to make yourself standout from other candidates.

Track 3:  Write Your Way Through Summer

You want to have a productive summer of writing.  Weeks of time loom ahead, holding promise and potential -- if you use your time and talent wisely. Come spend the day with us at the beginning of summer to take a deep dive into understanding how to get the most out of your writing time.  We’ll talk about planning and time management, developing flexibility in your prose style, and learning to be your best editor. You’ll meet and work with other doctoral students with similar big summer writing plans and have the opportunity to create summer working groups.


To prepare for this session, registrants will be asked to do two things.

  1. Using a handout that will be provided after registration, you’ll complete a brief diagnostic about how you plan and use your writing time.

  2. Please select a piece of writing that you are in the process of developing to bring to the symposium; you’ll use this document across the three sessions.

Session 1- (75 minutes) Managing your writing

It sounds simple:  sit down and write.  But getting started, managing your time, setting realistic goals can all be very challenging.  In this session, we will focus on managing your writing time. We’ll explore ways to manage your large writing project through goal setting, project management, and time management.  

Session 2 -(75 minutes) Other Ways of Saying: Developing Flexibility in Your Writing Style

Maybe you don’t think of yourself as a “stylish” writer, or maybe you often feel like you get stuck trying to find the right way to write something.  In this session, we’ll concentrate on developing flexibility in your writing.  We’ll practice various exercises in writing aimed at helping you get more limber as you head into a summer of effective writing.

Session 3 (75 minutes) Edit and Be Edited

Writing a dissertation involves drafts and feedback.  In this session, we’ll discuss what to do with a draft once you have one, how to ask for feedback from your adviser or colleagues, what to do with the advice you receive, and how, in turn, to give good advice.

Track 4: Grant writing Session with Faculty and Peer Review

This session is limited to postdoctoral scholars currently writing a grant application.  Interested doctoral students who would like to participate may contact Dr. Blessing Enekwe ( for more information. Doctoral students writing a grant application and would like to participate, please contact Blessing Enekwe ( BEFORE selecting this track.

Prework: Have a grant drafted to be reviewed, submission by May 22nd is required.

Session 1:

The morning session will provide information on the elements of a successful grant submission.

Session 2:

The afternoon session will provide grant proposal critiques by faculty and postdoctoral researchers who have had success in grant submissions and awards. The afternoon session will also be used to form peer-to-peer grant writing support and review groups. Only early career researchers and postdoctoral researchers who have drafted a proposal or working on a resubmission will be invited to participate in the afternoon session.


Contact Information

The Graduate School, University of Maryland

2123 Lee Building
7809 Regents Drive
College Park, MD 20742