Hoffman Report: Two More Resources and a Request

Posted in Advocacy, APA

Since our latest posts on APA’s Independent Review (better known as the Hoffman Report), here is where we’ve been focusing our energies:

1. APAGS created a dedicated page (gradpsychblog.org/ir) where we’ve attempted to compile requests from students who came forward with specific concerns and questions. The list will be frequently updated, and we hope you find it useful.

2. APAGS members have assembled a student-focused town hall at APA’s Convention this coming week in Toronto. On Friday 8/7 from 2 to 2:50pm, come to room 707 in the Convention Centre to share your concerns, discuss potential solutions, and hear from your peers. The dialogue will intentionally be structured in a safe and constructive way.

Download the PDF file .

3. Finally, we are asking all students to fill out a feedback survey from APAGS Chair Emily Voelkel. The survey will be open for a week following Convention. YOUR feedback will help guide the ways that APAGS leaders advocate to APA’s Board of Directors and membership council, and it will inform how APAGS sets its own course as a committee and constituency. A summary of results will be posted on this blog. The following word cloud shows common reactions to the findings of the Hoffman Report, as reported by the first three hundred responders.

wordle 3

Thank you for being a part of APAGS during this difficult time. Please keep bringing your opinions to the forefront.

Navigating Convention for Introverts

Posted in Advice, APA, Graduate School

Networking2One of the best reasons to go to APA Convention is to meet new people and share ideas. Whether it is speaking to a psychology role model, sharing your own research, or starting a new collaboration, sometimes APA Convention can seem daunting, especially to those who consider themselves introverted. Convention seems to be geared towards the social, outgoing extrovert, but introverts have a lot to offer too. We have gathered advice from other fellow introverts to help your through Convention without feeling too overwhelmed.

  • Set small goals- Goals may include talking with three different people, approaching your research idol, or staying at a social event for 30 minutes. Whatever the task, set a goal and stick with it. Afterwards you can feel free to excuse yourself from that setting and feel accomplished in your task (of course, if you are enjoying yourself, you can stay too).
  •  Attend events with a friend or identify a “safe” person - With networking, it is nice to have a familiar face to make you feel more comfortable. If you go with an extroverted friend, they can introduce you or start conversations. If you go with an introverted friend, you can enter into a conversation together with others so it is not as intimidating. And if you go solo, you can identify someone you have already interacted with as a “safe” person to go chat with if you feel uneasy.
  • Avoid being a tag along- Related to the previous point; if you socialize/network with a friend or safe person, make sure that you are engaging and not just blending into the crowd. By setting a goal to talk to a certain number of people, this shouldn’t be a problem. Another way to avoid being a tag along is to observe the crowd and find others who are shy or not engaged; they may be introverted as well and may be looking for someone to talk with. Helping out a fellow introvert can make you feel more confident and comfortable (plus the shared experiences of being an introvert can be a great conversation starter).
  • Take advantage of organized sessions- APA convention has several speed-mentoring sessions that are more structured networking activities as compared to socials. By engaging in these activities, the purpose is clearer and networking may be easier for introverts. Also, these speed-mentoring activities are usually time limited, giving you a realistic goal for socializing.
  • Get creative with networking- There are a ton of different socials to attend during the APA convention, but if that’s not your style, find what is right for you. Knowing your own introversion-style is important in making decisions on how best to proceed. Poster sessions are a good place to talk to others one-on-one about research, but it can be overwhelming with the amount of people and information. If you are good at introductions you can introduce yourself after someone’s presentation and strike up a conversation. Conversely, if you are not as forward, consider pre-coordinating a meeting at convention through email.
  • Plan ahead- By preparing a bit before attending convention, you can make those social opportunities less anxiety-provoking. First, have your elevator pitch ready (including your research interests, clinical interests, and long-term goals). You can also think of two or three questions/topics to start conversations at posters or after presentations.  If there is someone you are really interested in meeting or talking to at convention, send him or her an email expressing your excitement (another great conversation starter when you see him or her at a social).
  • Have an exit strategy- Some introverts may feel over-stimulated during convention. If this is a possibility, you can safeguard yourself by strategically placing yourself near doors and restrooms. If you start to feel over-stimulated, just excuse yourself to the restroom or out in the hall. You can also mention in your conversations that you have a previous engagement and that you need to leave in a few minutes. This way, the person you are talking to already knows that you will be excusing yourself (even if you don’t really have a previous engagement).
  • Pace yourself, know your limits, and self-care- Make sure to secure your alone time and reboot. It can be tempting to load your schedule full of presentations and socials; however, this can be really draining, especially if you feel you are “on” all day. The time off needed is individual to each person, so know your limits. Also make sure to follow healthy habits – getting enough sleep and hydrating are important for everyone when at convention.
  • Don’t feel guilty about being an introvert- Embrace your introversion and strength to talk to people individually and be reflective in your thoughts. By knowing and accounting for challenges, you can really shine and stand out as an introvert!

Year-by-Year Self-Care for Graduate Students: Part 1 of 4

Posted in Advice, APA, Graduate School, Self Care


Year-by-Year Self-Care Tips for Graduate School, Part 1 of 4

For First-Year Students, Make time: Your first year of grad school can be be a big adjustment but being prepared and keeping some self-care strategies in mind will help you transition smoothly. In your first year, make time to

Disconnect electronically.

It may appear counter-intuitive, but planning time where you do not work is as important as planning time for when you do work. Making time for yourself can be facilitated by signing off of all chats and other mobile devices at set times each day so that you are not inundated by messages you feel obligated to respond to at odd hours of the day or night. Although it is true you will have ongoing work while in school, it is also true your productivity benefits from unplugging. During your first year make friends with the idea of having professional boundaries, and put them to work!

Read your program’s handbook.

Most programs or departments will have a handbook, manual, or guide that details anticipated goals broken down for your program of study. The handbook’s aim is to acquaint you with the expectations of your program for each year or term you are enrolled as a student.  Despite the aim of the handbook being welcome students to their graduate program, these guides are often long and can feel overwhelming at first –this results in students holding off on reading through important information. One way to evade the temptation to avoid when reading your handbook is to think of it as an indexed syllabus that you will never need all of at once. Trying breaking it down month-to-month, read what you need, and bookmark the rest. Don’t be afraid to find out what’s expected of you by doing your own research, and taking it one term at a time.

An added benefit of knowing the handbook well is that it can also help you to break ground with your advisor. By confirming with your advisor what is expected of you in accordance with the handbook, you are showing her/him your investment in the program, A discussion with your adivsor over the handbook can also help you begin to carve out a plan for managing time in your advisor’s research lab with other program requirements.

Get to know your cohort.

The reality of graduate school is that members of your cohort will not remain completely in sync or on the same schedule for every moment of your doctoral program. It is equally unlikely, however, that anyone else in your life will quite understand what that first week, month, or mid-term exam was like for you. Cohorts are like families in that everyone is an individual, but shared experiences can bring and keep you together. You will always have your first year to look back on, so do not be afraid to connect with your fellow students during your first year.

Take time during this first year on at least three different occasions to meet for a happy hour, a game night, or some other non-academic activity. It is true that much of what doctoral programs include involve long hours of work, but it is also true that students are not people without senses of humor, enjoyable quirks, and necessary inside jokes. Develop these traits and experiences in your new surroundings, find out more about yourself with your cohort by your side.

Keep in contact with close friends and family.

The people who likely saw you through your application process will likely be some of the same people who see you through graduate school. It’s a good thing to immerse yourself in what is happening with your program but remember you were interesting and important before beginning this graduate school experience.

Whether those bonds involve platonic, familial, or romantic partnerships, continue to be mindful of how friends and family show up in your life as you embark in your doctoral program. Go to these relationships for support, and remember to show up for your supporters when and how you can. They are likely an important part of who you are, and who you will become.


9 Mentorship GIFs I Wish Someone Had Shown Me in Grad School

Posted in Advice, Graduate School, Humor

Finding a quality mentor is one of the most — maybe the most — important thing you can do in graduate school.  A good mentor can make your career fly like an eagle, or plummet like a rock.  But, despite the importance of mentorship in career building, we receive no training on what to look for when selecting a mentor.

Here are nine things that I wish someone had told me about mentoring during grad school, to help you find the mentorship you need.

1. Your ideal career should guide your mentorship choices.  What do you want to do? Find someone that already has your ideal job and ask them to mentor you.

star wars animated GIF

source: insanely-good-brownie.tumblr.com

2. Just one isn’t enough. No one can do it all, so build a team of mentors. Each mentor will have strengths and weaknesses; learn from their strengths, and supplement their weaknesses.

source: rooneymara.tumblr.com

3. It should be reciprocal. Mentorship is a two way street. If it isn’t reciprocal, it isn’t mentorship. Be mindful of keeping both sides of the relationship balanced, and beware if your mentor is the one unbalancing it.

scratching animated GIF

source: littleanimalgifs.tumblr.com

4. Don’t deify. Mentors are just people. They don’t know everything.  They will make mistakes and need feedback on their performance too… unless your mentor is Morgan Freeman… that dude is amazing.

god animated GIF

source: www.gifbay.com

5. Don’t fall for brands. Famous people/popular mentors are often busy already. Find someone who can spend time working with YOU.

hbo animated GIF

source: veephbo.tumblr.com

6. Don’t fear the peer. Other students will have great insights and will probably be open to sharing their knowledge with you. Ask for their advice, and help them out too.

wall animated GIF

source: tumblr.forgifs.com

7. Letting them push you is a good thing. A good mentor sets a high bar for you. But they should also do whatever it takes to make sure you reach it.

yoda animated GIF

source: mcbrayers.tumblr.com

8. They should be an inspiration. Find someone who makes you excited, even when the work is hard. They should motivate you to become a better professional, and hopefully also make you a better person.

excited animated GIF

source: http://piinkwinemakesmeslutty.tumblr.com/post/38713052048/how-i-feel-when-im-in-new-york-city

9. Don’t be shy. The worst thing someone can say when you ask them to be your mentor is “no.”

the office animated GIF

source: www.reddit.com

Want to learn more about how to find and keep a good mentor? Come to the program on mentorship at APA Convention in Toronto, Thursday August, 6th from 2-3:50 in Convention Centre Room 716A.

What do you think? Do you have other advice you would like to share? Comment below!

Editor’s Note: Daniel Reimer, MA, is Chair of the APAGS Convention Committee and a doctoral student at the University of Nevada – Reno. 

How to Get NIH Funding

Posted in Graduate School

By Earlise C. Ward, PhD, LP (Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Nursing)

Obtaining NIH grants has become even more competitive but there’s good news for early career researchers. In her Rock Talk blog, Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH’s Deputy Director for Extramural Research, wrote:

 NIH has made a concerted effort to make sure that faculty members in their early careers have a fair chance when they compete against more established investigators.

NIH recently adopted the Early Stage Investigator policy. That policy specifies that New Investigators within ten years of completing their terminal research degree or within ten years of completing their medical residency will be designated Early Stage Investigators (ESIs).

Traditional NIH research grant (R01s) applications from ESIs are identified and the career stage of the applicant will be considered at the time of review and award.

Here are some tips to help you win funding from NIH.

 Tips for Success: 

  1. Become familiar with relevant NIH Institutes based on your research interest. For example, if you are doing mental health research, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) might be of interest to you. If you are doing aging research, National Institute of Aging (NIA) might be of interest to you. If you are doing health disparities research, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) might be of interest to you.
  2. Sign up for the NIH Guide ListServe. The Guide is emailed once a week, and contains Table of Contents with links to PAs, Notices, and RFAs.
  3. Review recently funded grants (RePORTER).
  4. Once you have identified an institute of interest, contact the program officer. It is helpful to get to know your program officer. You can also write a concept paper with your specific aims and ask your program officer to review and provide feedback as to whether your research falls within a priority area of the institute.
  5. When you decide to submit an NIH application, have a senior colleague review your research proposal. Also set up a mock review. If you have funding it is worth paying a consultant to review your grant.
  6. If you meet the criteria for an Early Stage Investigator (ESI), indicate your ESI status on your NIH grant application.

Given the competitiveness of securing NIH grant funding and the limited federal funding available, it is important to explore other options for funding. In other words, diversify your funding portfolio. I encourage you to explore funding from private organizations including Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and other organizations relevant to your areas of research interest.

Winning grants for your research takes a lot of time. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough time to write the proposal, have it reviewed by colleagues, revise it and submit it on time. Once your grant is successfully submitted, be sure to take some time to celebrate your submission, as submission is a milestone. When you receive funding, celebrate again!

I look forward to hearing about other researchers’ tips for success.

Going to the APA Convention in Toronto (August 6-9, 2015)? Don’t miss the following opportunity!

Roundtable Discussion: An Insider’s Guide to NIH Research and Training Opportunities — Talk with NIH Staff

Date:                    Saturday, August 8, 10:00 a.m. -10:50 a.m.

Location:             Fairmont Royal York Hotel, Ontario Room

Sponsors:            APA Women’s Programs Office (WPO), APA Committee on Women in Psychology

Each year during the APA Convention, the WPO hosts an open meeting, An Insider’s Guide to NIH Research and Training Opportunities: Talk with NIH Staff, where individuals can talk to NIH program staff one-on-one. In an informal setting, staff from several NIH agencies will provide advice about funding and training opportunities.

Individuals can get tips on topics such as finding the right grant match for your needs, identifying research priorities, using the NIH Reporter grants information database, and asking the right questions of NIH staff, as well as learning more about the diversity supplement program, fellowship programs, research career development programs, the Extramural Associates Program for faculty at minority, women and small colleges, meeting grants and summer research programs, along with a range of other grant opportunities.