GRADUCon 2020 - Frequently Asked Questions

Who is GRADUCon for? 

GRADUCon is the annual career conference for graduate students (master’s and doctoral), and postdocs at the University of Chicago. Recent alumni of graduate and postdoctoral programs may also attend. Please contact Briana Konnick (bkonnick@uchicago.edu) for more information and questions. 

Where does GRADUCon take place? 

GRADUCon 2020 will take place entirely online. There will be 17 individual sessions that each have their own Zoom link. All registrants will receive the links to these sessions by email. 

Will I be able to ask questions during the panels? 

Yes. Each panel will open with questions from the moderator and will take questions from the Zoom Q&A feature starting about halfway through the panel. You can also “up-vote” questions that have been entered by other participants. The session moderator will select questions from the Q&A to read to panelists. 

Will my video and audio be enabled? 

No, you will see the presenters on video, but your camera and microphone will not be activated for the meeting. You can use the Zoom Q&A feature to submit questions to the panel. 

What topics should I think about before GRADUCon? 

  • What kind of careers are you interested in? How have your career goals been changed, reaffirmed, shuffled while in your graduate or postdoctoral program? 
  • How do you articulate the importance of your field to yourself? What relationship does professional life have to academic life? 
  • What are your academic strengths? Where do you really feel at home in your work? 
  • What are you most intimidated about when it comes to a job search? 
  • What worries you least about finding a career trajectory? 
  • What are three of your goals for your academic life this year? How about for your career goals? 

What should I expect from the panels? 

Panel discussions at GRADUCon are meant to give you concrete takeaways. They will hopefully give you tangible advice about your academic and professional trajectory. They will also point you in the direction of events and resources that you can go to later in the year. 

At the same time, keep in mind that you’ll likely leave the conference with questions and a to-do list. That’s okay. We don’t intend this to be the only day of the year that you think about careers and their relationship to your work. Rather, we want you to leave with a clearer sense of the resources at your disposal at UChicagoGRAD and at the University of Chicago, as well as with more confidence about how to use them on a regular basis. 

How can I connect with the alumni speakers after the event? 

We encourage all graduate students, postdocs, and alumni to sign up for WisrUChicago’s Alumni Association makes it easy for graduate students and postdocs to reach out to UChicago alumni for career advice. Wisr helps you identify possible mentors and contact them via phone calls or text-based chats. GRADUCon speakers were specifically invited to join Wisr, and many already have done so.If a specific speaker you wish to contact has not yet signed up, please let us know and we can send them a friendly reminder to sign up, and potentially put you in touch with them directly.

UChicago has thousands of alumni across all divisions, industries, and locations who are interested in being a resource for you. On Wisr, alumni indicate how exactly they are willing to help (e.g. resume reviews, industry-specific advice), making it easy for you to find appropriate guidance.  

Wisr also hosts affinity-based “communities” where students, postdocs, or alumni who share a meaningful affinity (e.g. LGBTQ+) can start discussions, schedule events, share files, and connect. 

Do I really have to reach out individual alumni? I hate networking! 

  • Networking is something you already do in your everyday life with friends and family. That is, you share interests and curiosity with each other about a range of topics. 
  • Focus on discovering what’s important to others and how your skills and abilities can help them achieve it. 
  • Consider this the first step in establishing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. 
  • Make sure you feel and show genuine interest in others. 

Alumni and panelists participate in GRADUCon because they are excited to talk about your work and your aspirations. They’ve also been through a very similar experience. Many of our guests made it out of UChicago in one piece and have found careers in a variety of fields inside and outside the academy. Talk to them about it! 

What are some things that I can ask alumni? 

  • “Tell me about your graduate work at the University of Chicago.” 
  • “What were there skills/abilities you gained as a result of your graduate education that have proven useful in your career?” 
  • “Tell me about your current position.” 
  • “What do you enjoy most about what you do? What do you enjoy least?” 
  • “If you were to go back to your time at UChicago, what would you do differently that would better prepare you for the job market?” 

What should I wear? 

Audience members will not be on camera, so unlike when GRADUCon is a live event, this should not be a concern. Dress comfortably and prepare for a day of exploration and learning, all spent in front of your screen. 

Should I do anything about that long-dormant LinkedIn account? 

You should take a look at your social networks in general. What does your online presence say about your professional identity? Keep in mind that employers at universities, corporations, and non-profits will very likely look you up on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. before they interview you. Make sure that you’re putting a professional foot forward.