Professional Skills and Development

BoAposters2013 013_103MEDStudents earning M.S. and PhD degrees in the School of Science and Engineering pursue careers in both academia and the private sector. This page (under construction) points to resources that may help develop professional skills.

Communicating Within and Across Fields

  • The "Elevator Talk" is a brief description of one's interests, skills, and accomplishments. Addressed toward people outside one's immediate field, the elevator talk typically avoids jargon and acronyms. It communicates the importance of the work, it's place in the larger scheme of things, enthusiasm, and ability to speak across fields. Although the delivery may sound off-the-cuff, it is constructed in advance and practiced.

  • The Research Statement can be construed as the longer (and printed) version of your elevator talk. Included with your application for academic positions, awards, and tenure, the research statement targets audiences both within and outside one's own field. For excellent advice on how NOT to make the statement a tour of your cv (i.e., to tell the story of why your work is important), see this piece by Gernsbacher and Devine.

  • Poster Presentations are visual displays of one's work. Because the presenter typically is available to expand upon the presentation, the physical poster usually avoids minute detail. Graphical formats typically are preferred to text; the work should be readable from 2' to 4' away. Templates and Guidelines


Self-Presentation and Networking

  • Resumes and Curriculum Vitae should be tailored to the position and conform to the norms of the individual's own field. For the sake of brevity and clarity, be prepared to OMIT older information that is superceded by newer accomplishments (e.g., your undergraduate gpa probably is of little interest now), redundancies (e.g., a conference paper that also appears as a published abstract might be listed only once), and skills assumed of degree holders (e.g., proficiency in--or ability to learn--MSOffice is assumed).

  • Tulane Email For Life. Why? 1.) Initial information to potential employers, admissions officers, and alumni is your Tulane degree, 2.) Some corporate firewalls (and individual filters) read free-domain addresses as spam: your email might never reach the intended party. 3.) Once you have a first job, you might want an alternate address when looking for a subsequent job. and 4.) It is free, and can forward to your primary address. [See also: Tips on your choice of email names]


  • Grants

  • Publications

    • Authorship Credit. Generally speaking, authorship is appropriate when individuals make a direct substantive contribution to the work (e.g, design, analysis, writing) rather than performing scripted substitutable tasks (e.g., recording data). Disciplines vary in their standard practices regarding authorship credit; developing scholars should become well acquainted with these norms (e.g., alphabetical listing? PI last?). An excellent discussion of the issues of authorship credit and responsibility is provided by the National Academies Press On Being a Scientist

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