Book Review: Navigating Graduate School and Beyond
I just finished reading a great new book on career guidance for graduate students by Prof. Sundar Christopher: Navigating Graduate School and Beyond: A Career Guide for Graduate Students and a Must Read for Every Advisor. Written by the Chair of the Department of Atmospheric Science at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, this book carves out quite a big territory in only 150 pages and for a reasonable price ($20 AGU-member price).
I’ve never met the author, but the book is pretty much as I envision sitting down with him for a chat over a coffee or a beer. It is a showcase for the author’s sense of humor, whether it be self-deprecating or a real groaner. He covers the following topics: casting a vision for your career, how to select an advisor, developing your skillset, organizing your life and work, writing, proposal-writing, communicating, picking collaborators, and picking jobs.
One thing I like about the book is that the author is not afraid to challenge the status quo. He advises students to write their dissertations with papers in mind, so that the process of going from a 200-page monograph to published paper(s) is more efficient. He recommends writing a grant proposal as a graduate student so see how it is done and hone your skills. In fact, simply teaching the course upon which this book was based challenged the status quo in the author’s department. (I know of at least one other atmospheric science program that has a long history of teaching a professional development class…paging Prof. Fred Carr at the University of Oklahoma.)
Moreover, the author says things that simply make good sense, but few have written down before. I highly recommend this well-written and thought-provoking book for both students and their faculty advisors.
The book is comparable to Peter Feibelman’s A PhD Is Not Enough: A Guide To Survival In Science. This is another excellent book that is well worth the dirt-cheap prices I am seeing online.