Advice From Alumni: Part 4

Over the last few weeks we’ve shared with you advice from various professionals and graduate students about entering the workforce or graduate school.  In the fourth part of this series, we asked those that have or are currently attending graduate school the following question:

Are there any resources you can recommend to students to help them achieve success in graduate school?

Here’s the advice we received…

Part 4:

I strongly advise undergraduate students to talk to family members, parents of their friends, their community and others to develop a support network.  Secondly, I will embolden students to obtain internships (whether paid or unpaid/local, international). Third, have personal and professional mentors/coaches. Lastly, to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis for themselves, so they will know what areas they need to develop, hone and be aware of.

— Sherry M. Hunter
Doctoral Candidate, DePaul University


My three pieces of advice are to know the APA 6th edition, make sure to always give yourself at least 30 to 60 extra minutes for each written assignment, and embrace peer review as a way to improve your writing and research.

–Mark Preston Mullins
Ashford University, MBA 2010


One of my favorite resources that I used as a supplement to accounting courses is:

–Debra Hall
Georgia Southern University, MBA 2010


I have found three resources to be very helpful as a graduate student.  Your academic advisor who can help answer various questions you have, your instructors, and any contacts you have in professional positions in the field you are studying.  I routinely contacted all three (many times they might get 2-3 emails a week from me) and I had all the resources I need, opened some new doors, never fell behind, and was very successful in my academic career.  I did not follow this advice when I was an undergrad, and it shows!

–George Long
American Military University 2011 and 2013


My advice in regards to resources for success in graduate school is to choose your major wisely!  Visit the college, look for statistics of employment with that major; study the professors and any financial aide you can and understand why you are going to grad school; do some soul searching before you commit your time.  Also: scholarships are your friend!  You need to maintain a high GPA so study study study.  Join associations and attend conferences during your first year and spend your second year hanging out in the career center.  You will most likely meet great people who will have first hand information on job openings; you will most likely attend job search functions sponsored by employers; and if you are lucky you will catch the eye of an employer and have a job once you graduate!   Great resources in my experience are my professors and their connections and the career center and their connections.  They are there to help you; with this economy you will need as much help as you can get.  I was also told something that rings true today, “if you are out and about in public dress as if you are casually meeting a potential employer and if you can make some sort of creative business card to hand them, you are really on top of your game!”  Last note, if you not burnt out on a thesis/comp exams…a PhD is a good option.  Good luck out there!

–Christina S. Tillman
Bowie State University, M.A. 2010


I found the article database Scifinder a very helpful resource while in graduate school.

–Laura Parke

University of Utah ’09


Resources in graduate school are not given to a student in full. Students need to seek out resources that are personalized to their situations. Discuss with professors their situations and how they can succeed in their field of studies. Most professors have been in several different positions prior to their appointments in an educational institution. The professors might be aware of other connections who exist in the field, and that could lead to a working relationship in the future.

Get involved! Even if the organization is not related to the students field of studies, this experience might have the potential to expand their horizons in terms of meeting others and growing their mental abilities in ways that might not have occurred if the student didn’t get involved. Student government, community relations, town volunteerism, sporting events, and other experiences could help the student grow in ways other than the studies might offer. A school career center is an option. Visit them and see what they have to offer. The Federal Government has a long list of websites that can help a person succeed in finding what is best for them. USA.GOV is a great resource for anyone who has questions about almost anything. To summarize, make yourself available in all different ways and meet as many people as possible, because one thing could lead to another!

–Andrew J. Vernon, M.Ed.
University of Maine 2010

Stay tuned to the blog for more advice.

One thought on “Advice From Alumni: Part 4

  1. The most important resource to achieve success, from my perspective, comes from an “ego” adjustment you may have to push yourself to make. It is to remain objective in your studies.

    Many students entering into graduate school have been working in their chosen field for a while and may be very good at what they do, almost to the point that they block out information that does not quite fit with what they are accustomed to. The key is to relax and let new or seemingly contradicatory information have a chance. Don’t discredit anything (research studies, Professor and student input, textbooks, etc.) because almost everything has a significant amount of useful information, even if it can be utilized to contrast against your own analysis. Objectivity is one of the key elements of higher thinking that most graduate schools want their students to have mastered when they complete their program. Just relax and give everything a chance and you will have less headaches and will probably learn much more! You don’t have to agree with it, but don’t ignore it. Best of luck!

    -Jason S. Akes
    American Military University, M.A. 2013

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