Been there, done that.

After six years of grad school, there are a few things I've picked up from personal experience and a whole lot of time talking with other female grad students (AKA procrastinating). I've always wished there had been some kind of handbook about how to handle the whole world of graduate school, so I figured I'd start a friendly place to discuss what it's like to be female in grad school, and maybe pass on some wisdom too!

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Getting into grad school, applying for grants, and then applying for jobs--let alone dealing with advisers, students, and other grad students--requires being able to promote yourself. You are going to need to be able to point out your strengths and accomplishments to those who need to hear them, because, really, no one's going to do this for you. The sooner you learn how to self-promote, and do it well, the better. So, I thought it would be a good topic to tackle today (and many thanks to the readers who suggested it [I almost just put your names down, then thought you may not like that...]).

I think this is a particularly important topic for females. Generally, our society looks down on women who flaunt their accomplishments, considering them to be arrogant (or worse). Men don't face this to the same degree, as they are often expected to be "selling" themselves more. It becomes a fine line to walk between being able to promote what you've done, and be able to maintain the respect of those you are promoting to. Where exactly this line is varies from person to person, too, making it even more difficult.

I've spent a good deal of time thinking about this during the past couple of weeks, mainly because I really don't have an answer for the query of how to go about being better at promoting oneself. I'm certainly not very good at it. I hated writing those essays about myself to get into grad school, and the ones NSF requires for their grants were ten times worse. Now I'm writing letters applying for jobs and every time I read what I'm writing I cringe inside, wondering if I come across as a know-it-all, arrogant, annoying, or even worse, just not good enough!

My best understanding is that it all comes down to self-confidence. Having a positive, and realistic view of oneself allows for better interactions with others, and can get you over the hurdle of getting started in the first place. It can be taken too far, of course, and everyone knows at least one person who has managed to be seriously annoying with how "great" they are :) But, in general, women have to work hard to gain, and maintain a view of themselves that is positive and optimistic.

So, how to build self-confidence? Um, that's a really good question. There are a lot of books out there about it! (Google spit out some very amusing images to me, too.) I honestly don't know. Wish I did, because it's something I'd find useful! So I'm going to open this up and solicit some comments (please!): how do you build self-confidence? How do you promote yourself artfully? (Because, dude, it is an art!)

(She just looks self-confident, doesn't she? And can I go wherever it is she's at? Because it looks really nice and relaxing!)

No comments:

Post a Comment