The principles of good business can be useful in graduate school.
For many people, being in graduate school is like a full-time job. Networking can be critical to success. And when it comes down to it, you need to represent your client – yourself – as best you can.
As it turns out, having a business mindset in graduate school can help you succeed. Here are four business principles to practice as a graduate student:
1. Keep your communications professional
A major part of marketing yourself is professionalism, and this can be powerfully expressed through the way you communicate with faculty members, school administration and career contacts.
InsideHigherEd recently published an article about the importance of writing professional emails. The ubiquity of email makes it far too tempting to use casual language in correspondence to colleagues and people in your network. The site recommends being conscious of your tone in your messages and keeping things short and sweet while providing the necessary context the reader requires to understand your email. Address the reader formally until you’ve seen that it’s appropriate to adopt a more informal tone.
2. Be prompt and cordial
A big part of building professional relationships is conducting yourself in a manner that inspires confidence and respect. Always arrive on time to classes, meetings and events, and notify the host ahead of time if your plans change. Dress to impress, be well groomed and bring an organized portfolio of your work to job and academic interviews. Be sure to thank everyone who helps you out in some way, too – sending handwritten thank you notes makes a wonderful impression and is much appreciated in a digital age.
3. Seek out a mentor, and be a mentor to others
A mentor is incredibly valuable in business as well as academia. As Info Entrepreneurs notes, one effective way to progress is to see what successful people are doing and try out their techniques for yourself. In a grad school setting, this could be a way of doing research, of networking or of developing a productive routine. Don’t be afraid to ask to grab a coffee with people who you respect in your field and have important knowledge to share. By the same token, be sure to pay it forward – always be willing to share the know-how you’ve learned and be a mentor for someone else.
4. Always have an eye open for new opportunities
If you have a narrow research focus while in graduate school, it can be easy to develop tunnel vision. However, you should always be on the lookout for new and exciting opportunities that can help you learn and grow in some way. Adapt an entrepreneurial mindset to your studies and keep up with trends and innovations in your field. Sometimes great opportunities can be hiding right underneath your nose, and new directions can be incredibly fruitful.
These four principles of good business can be useful in your academic and professional career.