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Staying in the Lines: The Tension between Creativity and Convention


The transition from academic study to the workplace—even one in academia—can be a bumpy one. Natalie Lundsteen writes about how many of the traits that make a successful doctoral student are at odds with the traits needed to land a job after securing your degree. She observes, “as a doctoral researcher...the entire process of undertaking a Ph.D. encouraged independent thinking and creation of original ideas. In seminars, graduate students and scholars argue ideas, dissect theories, and rethink concepts. Pushing back is the norm, and an innovative mind-set is encouraged. Yet, for job-seeking Ph.D.s, skipping directions, ignoring instructions, or coming up with a new way to do things can be more than just embarrassing or awkward. It can literally cost you a job. So put your Ph.D. self back into childhood color-inside-the-lines thinking, because most of the time with job applications, when you don’t follow directions, you don’t get a do-over.”

She counsels on the importance of thoroughly reading and carefully following application instructions to be sure your application is considered. Read her entire article here.