Example of Best Practice 1C

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Provided by Professor Laurie McNeil (
mcneil@physics.unc.edu), 12/05

At the University of North Carolina, Dr. McNeil and some of her colleagues help their graduate students find employment through networking. First, these faculty members email all former students, professional contacts, graduate school classmates, etc. working in the target area—mostly industrial R&D labs and government labs—to ask if they would be willing to be contacted by a student. If the contact agrees, the student is given her/his name and address, together with a brief summary of who the person is and how this person knows the faculty member. It is emphasized to the contact that, rather than ask for a job, the student will inquire about the kinds of opportunities typically available at their institution for a new physics PhD with the student's background, and about the good and bad aspects of working in that area. The student is instructed to inquire about the kinds of skills that are needed for the work done in the contact's field, and to ask for names of additional contacts. This gives the student the first few nodes in a network of contacts. This method was learned through talking to physicists in private industry who had been through "how to find a job after you have been downsized" workshops and training programs.