Skills Development

 Pichler Initiative on Professional Development 

Created in 2007 with a generous gift from Joseph (MBA ’63 and PhD ’66) and Susan Pichler, the Pichler Initiative on Professional Development prepares PhD students for the job market and professional life after the PhD Program. Harry Davis, the Roger L. and Rachel M. Goetz Distinguished Service Professor of Creative Management at Chicago Booth, serves as Faculty Director of the Initiative. 

The Pichler Initiative supports numerous ongoing activities that are integral to graduate student research and teaching including:  English-language skills programming for international students, TA training, and writing skills development. This programming is complemented by additional professional development workshops on a wide range of topics designed to prepare students for the academic job market. The Pichler Initiative also provides funding for individual coaching on presentation and communication skills. 

Tips for Success in Graduate School

Writing Resources

John Cochrane’s Writing Tips for PhD Students: A useful overview of how to write for a scholarly audience, from course papers to job market papers

The Little Red Schoolhouse: Writing courses offered at the University

UChicagoGrad Advising and Writing Support: Advising and special programming to support graduate students

The PhD Program provides funding for professional editing for a single paper during each student's graduate career. See the PhD Program Office for details.

Communication and Presentation Skills

Special workshops on writing and presentation skills are offered through the Booth PhD Program and open to all Joint Program students. The Presentation Skills Workshop is offered annually and targeted to students in the third year in preparation for the academic job market. These events are publicized through the Booth PhD student listserv.

UChicagoGrad offers 60-minute appointments with advisors who specialize in oral communication. This is an unlimited service available to all graduate students and may be used in preparation for any kind of presentation (in- class, workshop/conference, teaching, job market, etc.)

Funding for a limited number of hours of individual coaching with Voce Veritas is available through the PhD Program Office. Students may continue this individual coaching beyond this limit at their own expense. 

Teaching Resources

The Booth PhD Program offers a day-long TA Training workshop each Autumn and is required for all students in the second year

The Chicago Center for Teaching offers University-wide TA and Instructor Training each Autumn and teaching workshops throughout the year. 

Online Resources from the Chicago Center for Teaching:

  • Key Topics on Teaching: This is a basic reference tool for those starting out in teaching. Look here for concise information on topics like Course Design, Grading, Diversity & Inclusion, and Professional Development. Additional resources for each topic are listed at the end of each section.

  • The role of the CA/TA: An overview of best practices that is particularly helpful for those TA-ing for the first time.

  • Grading: Strategic grading procedures save valuable time. This article will help you consider fairness in grading practices, how to use rubrics, and how to align grading with course objectives.

  • Your First Day: Establishing good habits from the beginning will save you time and set the right tone for the group. This guide is written with course instructors in mind but is helpful for TAs as well.

  • Asking Effective Questions: Includes a “Sample Question Tool Kit Based on Bloom’s Taxonomy” which distinguishes establishes categories for questions like, knowledge, comprehension, application, and analysis, among others. Highlight: “Students may feel discouraged from responding to ‘Are there any questions’ for a host of reasons...To overcome such resistance, consider rephrasing: ‘Now, I’m sure you have some questions’, or ‘That was complicated. What did I leave out?’”

  • Designing Problem Sets: This guide will help you rethink the homework or problem sets you assign by using Bloom’s classification of cognitive skills to design problem sets that are more varied and allow for deeper connections with course content.

  • Accommodating Students with Disabilities: This guide gives an overview of common accommodations for students with disabilities.

  • Developing a Philosophy of Teaching Statement: This short essay by Nancy Chism covers the basic elements of the teaching statement, a document that may be required for academic job applications and tenure files at some institutions.

An expanded list of other online teaching resources is available here.

Peer Teaching Evaluation Form: A peer teaching evaluation is an efficient, low-stakes way to have your teaching evaluated. Ask a fellow student to evaluate one of your sessions and find out what you can do to sharpen your teaching and presentation skills.

Job Market Preparation

The Booth PhD Program offers job market programming on an on-going basis. Watch for email announcements for workshops on preparing for the academic job market, editing your CV, and the annual Job Market Dinner. Mock interviews and practice job talks may also be arranged by dissertation area.

UChicagoGRAD offers programming, advising, CV/resume review, and interview preparation. All UChicagoGrad programming is listed in the GRAD Guide Weekly, an email newsletter distributed to all University graduate students. Schedule an advising appointment with Mike Tessel (BSD and Booth PhD advisor) or Selina Chatman Nelson (Social Sciences advisor).

Useful Presentations Archived on UChicagoGrad: 

Useful Handouts from UChicagoGrad:

Booth-specific Resources for Navigating the Job Market

Tips for Success in Graduate School