Professional Development Proseminar: Career Choices (Winter 2022)

From CommunityData
Professional Development Seminar: Career Choices (COM 594 A)
Instructor: Benjamin Mako Hill / (or many other ways to contact me)
Office Hours: By appointment (I'm usually available via chat during "business hours.") You can view or book me on my calendar page. If you schedule a meeting, we'll meet in the Jitsi room (makooffice) and you'll get a link to it through the scheduling app.
Meeting Times: Monday 3:30-5:20pm
Important Links:

Course Overview[edit]

General description of series[edit]

COM 594 is a series of five professional seminars designed to help students develop a range of professional competencies. Communication Ph.D. students are required to take three of these courses as part of their programs of study, and M.A. students are welcome to enroll. In these proseminars, faculty and other guests share their experiences as teachers, researchers, and public intellectuals. As a faculty, we view this series as an important, thought-provoking, and fun part of your graduate education, and we are excited to incorporate these seminars into our program.

Specific course description[edit]

The career choices proseminar is designed to introduce students to a variety of career paths available to them with a research-based graduate degree in communication. The course speaks to careers in government, corporations, nonprofit organizations, community colleges, and universities. The proseminar seeks to develop graduate students’ professional skills in managing their job search after graduation so that they can achieve fulfilling careers after graduation.

Learning goals[edit]

I will consider this course a complete success if, at the end of the course, all students in the course can:

  • identify the range of professional possibilities available with a graduate degree in communication;
  • identify professional goals and understand the process necessary to meet these goals;
  • being the process of preparing materials targeted to position(s) of choice;

Course Design & Resources[edit]

I'm designing this class as a "workshop based class" built around the preparing for the job markets. that everybody will be developing as part of the course. There will be readings and weekly assignments but these are almost exclusively in the service of helping everyone carry out their own preparation. Each week we will spend a good chunk of the class checking in everyone's projects.

We will be reading material from the following books:

  • Vick, Julia Miller, Jennifer S. Furlong, and Rosanne Lurie. 2016. The Academic Job Search Handbook. Fifth edition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
  • Kelsky, Karen. 2015. The Professor Is in: The Essential Guide to Turning Your Ph.D. into a Job. New York, New York: Crown.
  • Basalla, Susan, and Maggie Debelius. 2014. “So What Are You Going to Do with That?”: Finding Careers Outside Academia. Third Edition. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.
  • Fruscione, Joseph, and Kelly J. Baker, eds. 2018. Succeeding Outside the Academy: Career Paths beyond the Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM. Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas.
  • Caterine, Christopher L. 2020. Leaving Academia: A Practical Guide. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

I'll be providing electronic copies of anything you're expected to read for the course but if you want to read the paper copies of anything, you should obviously go find copies of the books the book.

Other good resources are:

Note About This Syllabus[edit]

You should expect this syllabus to be a dynamic document. Although the core expectations for this class are fixed, the details of readings and assignments will shift based on how the class goes, guest speakers that I arrange, my own readings in this area, etc. As a result, there are three important things to keep in mind:

  • Although details on this syllabus will change, I will try to ensure that I never change readings more than six days before they are due. I will send an announcement no later than before each Wednesday evening that fixes the schedule for the next week. This means that if I don't fill in a reading marked "[To Be Decided]" six days before it's due, it is dropped. If we don't change something marked "[Tentative]" before the deadline, then it is assigned. This means that if you plan to read more than six days ahead, contact the teaching team first.
  • Because this syllabus a wiki, you will be able to track every change by clicking the history button on this page when I make changes. I will summarize these changes in the weekly an announcement on Canvas sent that will be emailed to everybody in the class. Closely monitor your email or the announcements section on the course website on Canvas to make sure you don't miss these!
  • I really value feedback — especially in the first few weeks. Please let me know what is working and what can be improved. In the past, I have made many adjustments to courses that I teach while the quarter progressed based on feedback.


This has basically two classes of assignments:

  1. Completion of a written draft of material tailored to the kind of job you are targetting. For example, this might include a CV and/or resumé, a cover letter, a teaching and/or research statements, a diversity statements, and so on. I suspect I'm going to negotiate the details of this with most of you one-on-one based on your career interests.
  2. Engagement with the course content via weekly responses and in-class seminar discussion.

The production of the written job market material will be broken down into a series of milestones. These involve an initial plan due on the second week of the quarter that explores at least two options, weekly updates that you will provide during class over the course of the quarter, some form of final presentation at the end of the quarter, and written material that you can incorporate into your final project.

In terms of engagement, the course relies heavily on discussion and in-person participation. It is important to realize that we will not summarize reading in class and I will not cover it in lecture. I expect you all to have read it and we will jump in and start discussing it. The "Participation Rubric" section of my detailed page on assessment gives the rubric I will use in evaluating engagement.


I have put together a very detailed page that describes the way I approach assessment and grading—both in general and in this course. Please read it carefully I will assign grades for each of following items on the UW 4.0 grade scale according to the weights below:

  • An initial written plan for your job market material: 10%
  • Weekly updates on job market material: 10%
  • Final presentation related to job market material: 10%
  • Final written job market material proposal: 40%
  • Weekly participation demonstrating mastery of reading and engagement with guests: 30%


This is a one-credit course which typically maps to about 10 hours of classroom time. Because we are booked into a two-hour slot, we have some flexibility in terms of how we organize things this quarter. Unfortunately, we're missing enough Mondays this quarter that we will likely need to meet every Monday that's not a holiday athough we will likely end a week or two early. We can discuss the schedule during our first meeting.

January 3: Session 1: Introduction to the Class[edit]

This session will be meeting online. I've the Zoom room we'll be using should be linked from Canvas.

Topic: Course overview and setting expectations

Assignment: (finish before class)

  • Look over the syllabus and identify anything you think is unclear and/or any questions you have about the course.
  • Do at least and interests and values assessments over on Imagine PhD which is a career planning tools for the humanities and social sciences. If you have time, do the skills one too. I'm not what I think about the output of the process but I do think the opportunity for self reflections on these questions is useful.
  • Come ready to speak for 5-10 minutes about your post-PhD career goals.

Class Plan:

  • Introductions to each other
  • Brief lecture introducing to the course + Q&A about syllabus and expectations
  • Walk through and discussion for next week's assignments

There are a few things I'd love to leave the session with:

  • A collective decision about synchronous communication options (we used Slack last quarter so that's the default)
  • A collective decision about how meeting in person next week
  • A collective decision about how we're going to decide about meeting in person
  • Clarity among the group about the schedule and deliverables
  • Some sense of the kinds of jobs you are interested in

January 10: Session 2: Exploring Options[edit]

Topic: Exploring Options

Readings: (finish before class)

Assignment: (finish before class)

  • Nail down a set of goals/deliverables for the quarter

Class Plan:

  • Share-outs & feedback about your projects
  • Walk through and discussion for next week's assignments

January 17: No Meeting (MLK Jr. Day)[edit]

January 24: Session 3: Navigating the academic job market[edit]

Readings: (finish before class)

Curricula vitæ for academic jobs:

  • Chapter 8: CVs from: Vick, Julia Miller, Jennifer S. Furlong, and Rosanne Lurie. 2016. The Academic Job Search Handbook. Fifth edition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Teaching and research Statements for academic jobs:

Diversity statements for non-academic jobs:

I've also put my own job market material online from the 2012-2013 year:

Optional readings and other resources for the academic job search:

Assignment: (finish before class)

  • Bring in copies of your CV as well as the CV of someone who has recently job you’d like to have. What did you learn by looking at this CV?

Class Plan:

  • Share-outs & feedback from assignments
  • Walk through and discussion for next week's assignments

January 31: Session 4: Navigating the non-academic/internship job market[edit]

Topic: We'll hear from people with experience with industry internships. We'll have two visitors:

  • Andrés Monroy-Hernandez who has hired interns at SNAP and Microsoft for more than a decade
  • Regina Cheng, an HCDE student (and one of my advisee) who has done a series of internships at Facebook, Microsoft, and Dataminr (and interviewed for many more)

Readings: (finish before class)

Resumés for non-academic jobs and internships:


  • Chapter 11: Online Presence from: Vick, Julia Miller, Jennifer S. Furlong, and Rosanne Lurie. 2016. The Academic Job Search Handbook. Fifth edition. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Class Plan:

  • Panel discussion
  • Talk about resumés and check in on assignments

February 7: Session 5: Panel on teaching-intensive colleges and universities[edit]

Topic: We'll hear from three people in different kinds of teaching-focused positions. We'll have three visitors:

Readings: (finish before class)

Assignment: (finish before class)

  • Take a look at the speakers websites and bring questions for them!

Class Plan:

  • Panel discussion
  • Talk through the readings and your questions
  • Sync up about final projects

February 14: Session 6: Panel on corporate and industry research[edit]

Topic: Panel on industry research include three recent graduates of our PhD program:

  • Tanya Oishi, currently working as a UX researcher with expertise in communication, difference, and technology at Meta
  • Matthew Adeiza, currenly working as a design researcher working on Azure at Microsoft
  • Élodie Fichet, currently working as a Sr. Accessibility Program Manager at Amazon

Readings: (finish before class)

No need readings this week since we covered most of the key points during the session on internships in industry.

Class Plan:

  • Sync up about final projects
  • Panel discussion

February 21: No Meeting (Presidents Day)[edit]

February 14: Session 28: Panel on Non-Profits[edit]

Topic: Panel on work with non-profit organizations:

Class Plan:

  • Panel discussion
  • Sync up about final projects

March 7: Final Presentations/Pitches & Discussion about Negotiation & Postdocs[edit]



  • Identify a prototypical person who might control access to a job you would like (e.g., a faculty member at a department you would like to be in; the head of an industry research lab you might like to join; the director of research at a non-profit).
  • Be ready to deliver a "pitch" (i.e., a 2-4 minutes sort of self-introduction that covers your career interests and skills) that might give to this person if you met at a conference or a networking event.

Class plan:

  • The first part of the class will be devoted to trying out pitches in a sort of "speed dating" where everyone will get an opportunity to try out your pitch, respond to some questions, and get some feedback. We'll do three 10-minute rounds:
    • Round 1: H→M, J→K
    • Round 2: K→M, H→J
    • Round 3: J→M, K→H
  • The second part of class will be for discussion and reflections on some final readings.

Final Project Due: March 18[edit]

Final project will be due in Canvas.

Administrative Notes[edit]

Teaching and learning with COVID-19[edit]

The COVID-19 pandemic will impact this course in various ways, some of them obvious and tangible and others harder to pin down. On the obvious and tangible front, we all be wearing masks. UW has made it very clear to all of us that if anyone of us feels sick, they cannot come to campus or class. This might translate into some hybrid course sessions at some point over the quarter. Since the room we'll be meeting in is not set up for hybrid learning, there's a possibility that we might end up having to move whole sessions online. All of this will reshape our collective "classroom" experience in major ways.

On the "harder to pin down" side, many of us may experience elevated levels of exhaustion, stress, uncertainty and distraction. We may need to provide unexpected support to family, friends, or others in our communities. I have personally experienced all of these things at various times over the pandemic and I expect that some of you have too. It is a difficult time.

I believe it is important to acknowledge these realities of the situation and create the space to discuss and process them in the context of our class throughout the quarter. As your instructor and colleague, I commit to do my best to approach the course in an adaptive, generous, and empathetic way. I will try to be transparent and direct with you throughout—both with respect to the course material as well as the pandemic and the university's evolving response to it. I ask that you try to extend a similar attitude towards everyone in the course. When you have questions, feedback, or concerns, please try to share them in an appropriate way. If you require accommodations of any kind at any time (directly related to the pandemic or not), please contact the teaching team.

This text is borrowed and adapted from Aaron Shaw's statistics course.

Your Presence in Class[edit]

As detailed in my detailed page on assessment, your participation in discussion is an important way that I will assess learning. Obviously, you must be in class in order to participate. In the event of an absence, you are responsible for obtaining notes, handouts, assignments, etc. If you can't come to campus due to COVID-19 related issues please be in contact as soon as you can and we'll figure this out. Don't risk the health of yourself or your classmates.

Religious Accommodations[edit]

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Student Conduct[edit]

The University of Washington Student Conduct Code (WAC 478-121) defines prohibited academic and behavioral conduct and describes how the University holds students accountable as they pursue their academic goals. Allegations of misconduct by students may be referred to the appropriate campus office for investigation and resolution. More information can be found online at Safety

Call SafeCampus at 206-685-7233 anytime–no matter where you work or study–to anonymously discuss safety and well-being concerns for yourself or others. SafeCampus’s team of caring professionals will provide individualized support, while discussing short- and long-term solutions and connecting you with additional resources when requested.

Academic Dishonesty[edit]

This includes: cheating on assignments, plagiarizing (misrepresenting work by another author as your own, paraphrasing or quoting sources without acknowledging the original author, or using information from the internet without proper citation), and submitting the same or similar paper to meet the requirements of more than one course without instructor approval. Academic dishonesty in any part of this course is grounds for failure and further disciplinary action. The first incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero on the plagiarized assignment. The second incident of plagiarism will result in the student’s receiving a zero in the class.

Disability Resources[edit]

If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to uw at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Other Student Support[edit]

Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live, and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the graduate program advisor for support. Furthermore, please notify the professors if you are comfortable in doing so. This will enable us to provide any resources that we may possess (adapted from Sara Goldrick-Rab). Please also note the student food pantry, Any Hungry Husky at the ECC.