Professional Development Day, hosted annually by the Annenberg School for Communication, brings back alumni to share career advice with current graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. This year’s event, held on October 7, was organized by graduate students Megan Genovese, Stefanie Gratale, Elissa Kranzler, Hanna Morris, and John Vilanova, and Director of Graduate Student Professional Training Kim Woolf (Ph.D. ’09).
The presenters have found careers within academia, in research, and in nonprofits. Below are a few of the insights they shared, organized by panel.
Panel 1 – Go Fund Me: Grants and Fellowships
“I believe that internal grants are the best grants at the university you are at. They are less money but also less competitive because you are competing with a smaller pool. So if you have the chance, apply for these." – Aymar Jean Christian (Ph.D. ‘12), Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Northwestern University
“Make sure your grant proposal is extremely well written and that you make it clear why the research is important. It is also important to have a clear and well-formed research question and a clearly linked methodology.” – Erika Falk (Ph.D. ‘01), Program Director, Israel Institute
“In terms of getting grants, I want to stress how important collaboration is. Collaboration opens the door for grants that may not be possible to get otherwise.” – Lauren Feldman (Ph.D. ‘08), Associate Professor, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University
Panel 2 – These Hallowed Halls: Teaching in Different Universities
“I try to make sure that race, gender, and class aren’t tangential in any course. I integrate that into my class by making sure there are women scholars, scholars of color, women of color writing the texts I teach.” – Khadijah Costley White (Ph.D. ‘13), Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Media Studies, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University
“I can’t emphasize enough the importance of finding a good textbook. It’s good to get some free copies and see what works, and then I always supplement from there with other readings.” – Joel Penney (Ph.D. ‘11), Associate Professor, School of Communication and Media, Montclair State University
“Teaching in a business school is not really that different from teaching in a communication school. In communications, you already have many flavors… Communications in business schools has more emphasis on media economy and industry.” – John Carey (Ph.D. ‘76), Professor of Communication and Media Management, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University
Panel 3 – Beyond the Lecture Hall: Jobs Outside Academia
“You will come out of Annenberg being a better writer than anyone out there. You are better able to synthesize complex data and write really well – that’s what sets you apart. Your role as a skeptic, helping people see and question what they’re seeing.” – Alison Perelman (Ph.D. ‘13), Executive Director, Philadelphia 3.0
“Building a team from the ground up, an enduring family we’ve built, is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role in the private sector. The company did a culture survey, and it was heartwarming to see that my team's highest scores were for "team satisfaction" and "role." More than 90% of my team were very satisfied with their group, and saw their position aligned with their core skills and objectives. That’s a rewarding aspect of my role that I wouldn’t have in the academy." - Elizabeth “Roody” Roodhouse (Ph.D. ‘13), Director of Analytics, Blue Apron
“There is a lot of talk about data science, but the qualitative side of industry is also growing. When I started working at Facebook, there were very few Ph.D.s on the qualitative side. Today, they're numerous. Growth is happening across the research spectrum.” – Loi Sessions Goulet (Ph.D. ‘12), Associate Director of Research, TripAdvisor
“There’s instant gratification associated with my work. If we finish a survey for CBS News at midnight, we can wake up in the morning and see our work on TV.” – Eran Ben-Porath (Ph.D. ‘08), Vice President of Public Opinion Research, SSRS
Panel 4 – Publish and Prosper: Publishing Your Work
“I think you should publish often. You need to build a narrative, a story of who you are and what you research. But quality is more important than quantity. Don't just submit anything for publication. You want people to read things they will value." – Brenda Curtis (Ph.D. ‘10), Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry-Addictions, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
“Never underestimate the extent to which journals in other fields will entertain debates about communication. They may well welcome your expertise so you should think of one or two or three different fields you could publish in.” – Des Freedman (Annenberg Visiting Scholar Fall 2017), Professor of Media and Communications, Goldsmiths, University of London
"Always aim for the highest journal first. Because even if it gets rejected, it will get really great reviews that you can use to improve the article to submit again or to a different journal." - Jennifer Stromer-Galley (Ph.D. ‘02), Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University
This year's presenters pose for the traditional photo of Professional Development Day alumni with their dissertations.