Don’t be Remembered for the Wrong Reasons!
Who you know matters, and what they think of you matters: while you are a graduate student, it is critical that you build strong relationships within your professional network. This includes your advisor, committee members and faculty you work with at Duke, but it also includes your graduate student colleagues, staff members, alumni and others you might interact with in a professional capacity.
I have worked and taught at Duke since 2006, and in that time, I have had the great privilege of working with amazing and talented graduate students, including many engaged in the Certificate in College Teaching and the Preparing Future Faculty program. Over that time, I have interacted with (quite literally) thousands of Duke grad students, and my interactions have left me with a variety of impressions. Some respond promptly to emails, confirm their preparation for upcoming class meetings or program sessions, or let me know when a conflict or last-minute emergency arises. Others fail to do so, often leaving me and their colleagues in the lurch. I tend to remember the students at both ends of this continuum quite well.
To help you avoid being remembered (by me or others in your network) for the wrong reasons, I’d like to offer one of the simplest yet most effective ways to demonstrate professionalism and establish a solid foundation for strong professional relationships: send prompt replies to RSVPs, and follow through with commitments you make. This shows that you value the efforts of others in your network and respect their time, which creates a positive impression and develops stronger relationships with the people in your evolving network.
To be clear, graduate school is a very intentional space for you develop professional skills: you can recover from missteps and improve relationships along the way, and those of us in teaching, advisory and mentoring roles want to help you succeed. You can find us in The Graduate School, the Career Center and Duke Learning Innovation, for starters. Your responsibility in this arrangement is to actively engage, reply, and follow through: respect others’ time.
Now, your action item: go to your inbox and send the reply were putting off. Future you (who is on the job market and asking for letters of recommendation) will say thanks for cultivating your network!
Hugh Crumley, Ph.D.
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs
Dr. Hugh Crumley is Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate School. Since joining Duke in 2006, Hugh has been involved with multiple aspects of graduate education and currently provides leadership for all Graduate School teaching & teaching assistant (TA) programs, including directing and teaching in the Certificate in College Teaching, directing the Preparing Future Faculty program, and coordinating Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) training for all 3800+ graduate students at Duke.