February 2, 2022

Leveraging Coursework in Professional Spaces

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It can be challenging to navigate ways to professionalize yourself as a graduate student. Many graduate scholars are unsure how to seek opportunities to publish or present their research at conferences. There is more than enough to focus on between coursework and other obligations, such as your career or family. Submitting to journals and developing conference proposals may seem like an overwhelming, complicated task. However, many graduate students may already have work from courses that can be leveraged into content for professional journals and conferences.

In Fall of 2021, the Office of Student Engagement hosted a webinar facilitated by two graduate students, one from the School of Educational Studies (SES) and one for the School of Social Science, Policy and Evaluation (SSSPE). They shared how they took their course assignments and successfully leveraged them into a publication and conference proposals.

The presenters were both second-year students (one a master’s and the other a doctoral student) and highlighted that through the support of mentors, they worked together to navigate the process. The methods they shared were invaluable for graduate students at all stages, so keep reading for some helpful tips!

Where do I begin?

Searching for and joining professional associations in your field is an excellent place to start. A simple Google search for “Professional Associations” and your industry should do the trick. Many associations have discounted rates for students, so be sure to search before you purchase your membership. From here, find conferences within your field and pick one to attend. Many conferences are still being held virtually, so this is a great way to attend without having to incur the cost of travel or lodging. You can also search for major and minor publications within the field, and you should subscribe to the publications that interest you in order to get a feel for the content they publish. By subscribing you can also be alerted when proposals and abstracts are being accepted. Lastly, reach out to your peers and classmates who may be interested in collaborating with you! Regardless of the modalities of your courses, there are sure to be other students who want to evolve professionally.

Whether it be on LinkedIn or at a conference, networking with professionals is an important part of your professional development. As a CGU student, you can make a one-on-one appointment with a career consultant through Handshake with our Career Development Office (CDO).

Demystifying Proposals and Publications

Take the time to break down the submission process before you begin stressing on what to submit or where to submit it.

First, identify an assignment, paper, project, or presentation from class that you feel best highlights your academic scholarship. Conference proposals and publications do not all need to be original research, so don’t disqualify yourself from the start! Once you have identified a few pieces, use the advice in the section above to submit a proposal to a conference or publication within your research area. We encourage you to start with regional conferences or smaller publications as you work to develop your academic portfolio.

Once you have identified where to submit, now you want to really dive into the conferences or submission websites to find what they are requesting in the proposal. Many conferences will have themes they follow for that particular year, so you can determine if that theme aligns with your own interests or previous work.

If you are lost on the type of content a particular conference usually features, you can look through archives of prior years to see the presentations that were accepted to guide you in the right direction. Many conference organizations may even have recordings on their websites as a reference.

To strengthen the quality of your proposal, we suggest creating a template based on the final proposal submission guidelines to ensure you are including proper formatting, word count, and other guidelines. When writing the actual content of your proposal, starting from scratch can be a disservice to yourself. Use research to strengthen your proposals and use papers, presentations, and assignments from a course as a starting point. Leveraging your coursework in this capacity is an impactful way to utilize the scholarship you’ve begun inside the classroom to contribute to your field.

Rejection is Redirection

It won’t come as a surprise to you that rejection is a prominent aspect of submitting proposals. Hearing “no” is part of the process, but it is important to not let any rejection get the best of you. Oftentimes, a rejection leads to redirection! If you receive a not-so-favorable response to your proposal with little reasoning behind it, return to the website to see if there was anything you missed. It is common to hear rejection for not following proposal guidelines closely, or maybe you did not tweak or align your work with the proposal’s requests. Most of the time, your rejection will come with feedback on why it was not selected. Take this feedback as meaningful, constructive criticism, and if the changes are within reach, resubmit it! If you receive a “no” from one publication or conference, it does not mean the content is bad or not worthy of publication, it may not be right for that journal or conference. Keep exploring different outlets to submit to, and you may find the right fit!

We encourage you to view the entirety of the presentation hosted by David Estudiante and Shawn Matiossian and learn how they took a course assignment to the next level, click here.

I’m excited to share my research! But I’m not quite ready to share it on such a large level.

It is understandable to want to start out small when presenting your scholarship. Perhaps the perfect place to start is CGU’s Realizing Equity Research Symposium. Through a collaboration between the THRIVE program, Transdisciplinary Studies, and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, we invite scholars from across disciplines to join us for the Realizing Equity: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Justice & Transformative Research Symposium on Friday, April 8, 2022.

This symposium showcases research for positive social transformation from students committed to scholarship in equity and justice. Proposals from all academic disciplines to advance research that centers equity and justice are encouraged for submission. The deadline to submit has been extended to Tuesday, February 15, 2022.

To learn more about this opportunity to present your scholarship including themes for consideration, session format, criteria, and materials, visit our symposium website.

Engage with CGU staff and have your questions answered by joining the Office of Student Engagement’s Symposium Ask Me Pop-up on Friday, February 4, 2022 from 12:00 – 1:00 pm. For any support before you submit your proposal, visit The Center for Writing & Rhetoric for one-on-one consultation to learn more about the formats for submission.

Applications Due: Tuesday, February 15, 2022, 5:00pm (PT)

Have you used work from a course to submit to a journal or conference? Were these tips helpful? Are you planning on submitting a proposal to CGU’s Realizing Equity Research Symposium? Let us know by adding comments on this Jamboard page. If you have any questions or suggestions for upcoming blog posts, send us an email at student.engagement@cgu.edu.