Diversity Statements

September 19, 2016

In an academic job search, it is not uncommon to get questions related to diversity during your interview. You may be asked: “How do you bring diversity into the classroom?” and “How do you bring diversity to your research?” Recently though, diversity statements have become more and more standard. So along with your CV, cover letter, research statement and teaching statement, you might also be asked to provide a diversity statement.

What is this document and what should you include? It really should be a personal reflection of your feelings and your approach to being a leader and a teacher. However, teaching is meant in the broadest sense possible as you will address diversity and diverse learning/teaching methods within your teaching statement. While keeping your diversity statement on one page, here are some questions to ponder that will hopefully help you get started.

How do I bring diversity?

Reflect for a moment on your past and your identity. Maybe you immigrated to this country? Maybe you were the first generation in your family to attend college? Maybe you were an adult learner in a setting of mostly “traditional” students?  Perhaps you want to share some identifier, including:  racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, etc.  It is not enough though to simply say that you will bring diversity because, “I am black,” or “I am gay.”  Effective diversity statements tend to avoid keeping it all about you and your identity. Be cognizant of addressing other groups as well and your status of being an ally for others.

On top of reflecting about yourself, you will also want to reflect on the school to which you are applying.  Think about the students at that school. Perhaps most students are first-generation or commuter students? Maybe the school has a large number of international students?  You will want to highlight that you have done research about the school’s population and address this in your statement.

What have I done to grow in diversity?

If you are having a hard time answering this question, it might mean you haven’t done enough…yet.  Here are some questions to help you reflect: Have you actively worked to engage with new groups of people through volunteer work? Have you participated in any trainings, workshops or classes, like OITE’s Workplace Dynamics, Diversity Workshop, or the NIH Academy? Have you read any books on diversity? The OITE Library has some that might be of interest, including: Clash! How to Thrive in a Multicultural World  and/or Far From the Tree.

Throughout your document or in a separate section, you will need to detail your experiential knowledge of diversity by highlighting your own personal experiences. At this point, you might be thinking “My experiences aren’t good enough to write about.” That is a common concern and you just have to work with what you have; after all, you can’t fabricate experiences. This however might also mean that you will need to prepare more and engage in making diversity a priority.

There are lots of online resources to help you write your diversity statement. A particular few to pay attention to include:

Remember that if you are at the NIH, the OITE has a variety of programs and services to help you along the way of your academic job search.


What Anchors Your Career? A Look at Work Motivations and Values

September 12, 2016

Image of a boat dropping anchor

In the world of career development, we often discuss the importance of assessing your skills, values, and interests. Today, we are going to focus primarily on career values because while it is such a priority, it is also an oft overlooked piece of the puzzle.

What are Career Values?
You can see general categorizations of career values at O*NET. Another site which compiled a list of career values is Monster.com, which you can access here.  They broke it down into intrinsic and extrinsic values. Here is a snapshot of some of the options:

Intrinsic Values
– Working for a cause I deem worthy
– Experiencing adventure/excitement
– Having an opportunity to be creative
– Engaging in very detailed work

Extrinsic Values

– Making a certain amount of money
– Being in a position of authority/power
– Working in an aesthetically pleasing environment
– Being recognized monetarily or otherwise for contributions


How Can You Identify Your Career Values and Motivations?
There are many ways to begin identifying your career values. It can often be helpful to discuss this with a career counselor or mentor who can work with you to prioritize your values. However, some people benefit from structured exercises/activities to help them create their list of career values. It is important to recognize that you will probably create a long list of things you “Always Value” in a career; however, in order to be realistic, you will need to truly assess what your top values include. Try not to choose more than 3-4 values as your top priorities.

One other way of thinking about career values comes from Edgar Shein who created an assessment about Motivation and Career Anchors. He described career anchors as the unique combination of perceived career competence, motives, and values.  He put forth eight core career anchors. See which one you would choose as your primary and then secondary career anchor.

Career Anchors

  1. Managerial
    This type’s primary concern is to integrate the efforts of others and to tie together different functions in an organization. They welcome the opportunity to make decisions, direct, influence, and coordinate the work of others.
  2. Technical Expertise
    This type prefers to specialize in their skill and they enjoy being challenged to exercise their talents and skills in their particular technical or functional area. They feel most successful when they are recognized as an expert.  They tend to dislike being moved into managerial positions.
  3. Autonomy/Independence
    This type dislikes being bound by rules, hours, dress codes, etc. They enjoy setting their own pace, schedule, lifestyle and work habits. They often dislike the organization and structure of a workplace and often end up working for themselves.
  4. Security/Stability
    This type seeks security and stability in their jobs. They look for long-term careers, geographic stability, and good job benefits. They dislike personal risk and often personally identify with their work organization which makes them reliable employees.
  5. Entrepreneurial/Creativity
    This type thrives on creating something new and/or different, whether a product or a service. They are willing to take risks without knowing the outcome. They enjoy work where success is closely linked to their own efforts as the creator.
  6. Service/Dedication to a Cause
    This type wants to undertake work which embodies values that are central to them (e.g. make the world a better place to live; help a cause; etc). They tend to be more oriented to the value of the work than to the actual talents or areas of competence involved.
  7. Pure Challenge
    This type likes solving, conquering, overcoming, winning. The process of winning is most central to them rather than a particular field or skill area.
  8. Life Style Integration
    This type’s primary concern is to make all major sectors of their life work together in an integrated whole. They don’t want to have to choose between family, career or self-development. They seek flexibility and strive for a well-balanced lifestyle.

In whatever way you choose to think about it – career values, career motivations, career anchors – these are ultimately the key factors that drive you when making your career decisions.  Remember too, that these can change depending on where you are in your life-span life-space, so you might need to reassess over time.


The Four Tendencies: Upholders, Obligers, Questioners, and Rebels

September 5, 2016

Image of Four Circles representing Four Tendencies: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, and RebelGretchen Rubin is the author of Better Than Before, a book about creating and maintaining habits.  While writing this book, she created four categories of personality as a framework to help explain how individuals respond to both external and internal rules.

The Four Tendencies describe how people respond to expectations, including outer expectations (i.e. a deadline, a request from a friend) as well as inner expectations (i.e. starting that new diet, or keeping a New Year’s resolution). Your response to these expectations is what defines your type.

According to a blog post by Rubin on Psychology Today, she defined the Four Tendencies accordingly:

UPHOLDERS wake up and think, “What’s on the schedule and the to-do list for today?” They’re very motivated by execution, getting things accomplished. They really don’t like making mistakes, getting blamed, or failing to follow through (including doing so to themselves). They response readily to outer and inner expectations.

QUESTIONERS wake up and think, “What needs to get done today?” They’re very motivated by seeing good reasons for a particular course of action. They really don’t like spending time and effort on activities they don’t agree with. They will meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (often after asking a lot of questions about it) so they make everything an inner expectation.

REBELS wake up and think, “What do I want to do today?” They’re very motivated by a sense of freedom, of self-determination. (I used to think that Rebels were energizing by flouting rules, but I now I suspect that that’s a by-product of their desire to determine their own course of action. Though they do seem to enjoy flouting rules.) They really don’t like being told what to do. They resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

OBLIGERS wake up and think, “What must I do today?” They’re very motivated by accountability. They really don’t like being reprimanded or letting others down. They readily meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations they impose on themselves.

Curious to know what your type is? Well, you can take the quiz to find out at Rubin’s website here. Understanding your tendency can be important if you are trying to change a habit or find a new means of motivation that will be more productive for you. For example, an Obliger who is finding a hard time exercising on their own might need to set up a mechanism for external accountability, since they will respond better to that. It might be in that Obliger’s best interest to join a workout class or a running club.

This can also be an interesting framework to examine if you want to know how another person will consider and act upon a request or order from you. It can also help explain the behavior of others.  Perhaps you find yourself exasperated when a co-worker questions every action or decision. Perhaps they are a Questioner and that is their modus operandi.


Decision Space Worksheet

August 29, 2016

Last week, we talked about how you could use the CASVE Cycle to help you make a career decision. For visually inclined and/or visual learners, you might find this Decision Space Worksheet to be more helpful as it is a cognitive mapping exercise.  It prompts you to map out, visualize, and hopefully get clarity on your decision at hand.

Here’s how it works.  On the first sheet, you should list all of the thoughts, feelings, circumstances, people, and/or events that are having an impact on the decision you need to make.

Then, within the larger circle on the second sheet (depicted below), you should draw smaller circles that represent each listed item on your Decision Space Worksheet. Each circle should represent the magnitude or relative importance of the item.

Florida State University has made their Decision Space Worksheet free for all to use. You can access it from their website. Here is a link to the worksheet.  For your reference, an example is depicted below focusing on career values:

Decision Space


Making a Career Decision? Use the CASVE Cycle

August 22, 2016

Florida State University has a world-renowned career center which pioneered the Cognitive Information Processing theory.  According to Wikipedia, this “theory asserts that the major components involved in determining career decision-making and problem-solving effectiveness are the content and the process of career decisions. The importance of the content and process in career decision making can be described by using a metaphor of a recipe. To make a good dish (decision) one must have all necessary ingredients (content), and know how to follow cooking instructions (process).”

Today, we are going to focus on the instructions or the process.  This process is something that everyone will continually navigate through their own career development. CIP theory has put forth a CASVE decision-making cycle to help understand this process. The CASVE Cycle is a good career decision-making model which focuses on action-oriented steps detailing what you need to do. In this cycle, the process is broken down into five stages.

Communication – Analysis – Synthesis – Valuing – Execution (CASVE)

Image of the CASVE Cycle

COMMUNICATION
“Identifying the problem or the gap”

This could be anything from “I need to find a new job” or “I have to choose a major”. It is important to be as specific as possible when identifying the presenting issue. According to the model, communication often boils down to external cues (events, significant others) and internal cues (emotions, physiological responses, and avoidance behavior).

ANALYSIS
“Understanding myself and my options”

This section focuses on self-knowledge like utilizing reflection, structured exercises, or even assessment instruments to gain more insights into your skills, values, and interests in order to gain more self-awareness. Knowledge about options can be gained by looking into more specifics about the options you have at hand. It might also be necessary to explore occupations, programs of study, and employers based on your skills, values, and interests which will help you understand the wide array of options available to you through your own personal filters/preferences.

SYNTHESIS
“Expanding and then narrowing my list of options”

In this stage, you are trying to elaborate on your options in order to then crystallize them into a manageable set of options.  You are essentially checking for alternatives to see if there are other areas to explore.  You can generate occupational, educational, and employment options by doing interest inventories like the Strong Interest Inventory, or other informal assessments online, as well as by doing informational interviews.

In the narrowing phase of this stage, you are tasked with identifying no more than three alternatives, occupational or otherwise.

VALUING
“Prioritizing alternatives”

Your prioritization of your educational, occupational, and employment alternatives conclude with an identification of your tentative primary and secondary choices.

This is accomplished by valuing the costs and benefits to: yourself, your significant others, your cultural group, your community and/or society at large.

EXECUTION
“Implementing my choice”

This stage is about making a plan for implementing your tentative primary choice. Three key factors in beginning the execution of your choice include: 1. Reality testing 2. Preparation program and 3. Employment/Education Seeking.


RESOURCES

Florida State University has put many of its resources and handouts about the CASVE cycle online and they are free for the public to utilize. Take advantage of this handout which allows you to describe your own career problem solving and decision-making process using the CASVE Cycle.

Another helpful resource is this exercise entitled “Guide to Good Decision-Making“.  It goes into more depth about each stage and even gives examples so you have a sense of how to complete this on your own.

Remember, that every decision will have its pros and cons. Very rarely is there a perfect decision to me made; however, hopefully this model will make you feel like you have taken the time to make a fully informed and well-contemplated career decision.


Public Speaking for Introverts

August 15, 2016

According to Chapman University’s Survey of American Fears, public speaking is the number one fear. For Americans, it beat out heights, bugs, snakes, flying, clowns, and even drowning!  So, given the anxiety surrounding public speaking, if you are reading this in North America, then there is a good chance that public speaking makes you a tiny bit nervous.

Graph showing what Americans are afraid of - Public Speaking #1

In the world of work though, especially in science, you have to present all the time.  How then can you get over a public speaking phobia, especially if you are a self-described shy introvert?

Here, we have compiled a list of relevant links which will hopefully give you some tips and even inspiration to tackle your next presentation with confidence:

  1. Susan Cain, the author of the book Quiet – The Power of Introverts wrote a great article  for Psychology Today on “10 Public Speaking Tips for Introverts.”
  2. What Grey’s Anatomy Creator, Shonda Rhimes, Can Teach Us Introverts about Public Speaking is a catchy title and a great article from Career Coach, Lindsey Plewa-Schottland on how she overcame her fear of public speaking. Hint: preparation was key!
  3. Watch this TED talk on Secrets to Great Public Speaking to help you tailor your next presentation to make it go from good to great.

When trying to improve any skill, public speaking included, preparation and practice are two essential components.  If you are at the NIH, it might help you to get involved with the NIH Toastmasters Club, with open meetings every Friday at noon.  Toastmasters is an international organization with clubs and meetings all across the world aimed at helping you become a confident speaker and a strong leader.

What has helped you get over public speaking anxiety? Let us know with a comment below.


Career Options Series: Science Education & Outreach

August 8, 2016

OITE’s Career Options Series will give you a snapshot overview of different career paths. The goal of this series is to help you explore a variety of different options by connecting you to new resources.  A large part of making a good career decision is done by gathering information about that field.  We encourage you to follow up this online research by conducting informational interviews with individuals in each field. Search the NIH Alumni Database to find alums doing similar work.


What is Science Education & Public Outreach? Picture of an ipad with arrow shooting out with eduational graphics

The field of Science Education and Public Outreach (E/PO) is an umbrella term that refers to the education and generation of public awareness of science and its relevant topics and methods. According to NASA, this encompasses increasing the general public’s understanding of engineering, technologies, and education, and engagement in improving the quality of scientific pursuits in these areas. Positions in E/PO arise in a wide variety of settings, including public and private primary and secondary education, zoos, museums, and both non-profit and for-profit companies and organizations. Hiring institutions typically hire candidates with bachelors, masters, or doctoral degrees, and a variety of skill sets are typically used, including science curriculum development, program management, teaching, research, and administrative work such as assembling educational material.

Sample Job Titles
Program Director/Manager OR Analyst/Coordinator/Specialist; Outreach Coordinator; Science Writer/Educator; Online Communications Specialist; Career Development and Outreach; Science Exhibit Developer; Teacher; Learning Coordinator; etc.

Sample Employers
Many universities and schools do science education and outreach, so those are great places to start. However, also remember to look at many professional associations as they often have a department dedicated to education and outreach. Additionally, consulting firms could be a place to make a contribution to this field. Just make sure the organization works with schools or agencies of interest to you.

 

University of Massachusetts Medical School
University of Maryland
SARE Research
Macfadden
George Mason University
Society for Science & the Public
Chemical Educational Foundation
Galapagos Conservancy
Mercy: The Mississippi Health Advocacy Program
Campaign For Tobacco-Free Kids
U.S. Department of Education
The Schott Foundation for Public Education
Burness
BCS, Inc
Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection
Cognitive Professional Services Inc.
Savan Group

Many, many more! COMMENT below with organization suggestions.

Key Skills
– Communication skills, including: presenting as well as writing
– Teaching/Education
– Scientific/Media Writing
– Program Development
– Website Development
– Writing/editing
– Multimedia outreach/communication
– Publishing
– Web design
– Data analytics
– Program management
– Research methods and data analysis
– Interpersonal communication skills

Professional Organizations/ Resources
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Presidential Management Fellowship
IRACDA Fellowship/Grant
National Association for Science Teachers

How to Find Jobs
Higher Ed Jobs
Chronicle of Higher Education

OITE Resources
How to Series on Career Education and Outreach
Careers in Science Education and Outreach Handout