MODULE 3 – Communicating your Skills and Experience


To practice articulating your research, skills and experiences to diverse audiences.

Individual Activities

In any job, whether in academia or beyond, the ability to communicate to broad and diverse audiences is a critical skill and shapes the way others perceive your skills and experience.  Informational interviewing, where you may encounter questions such as “Tell me about yourself?” will provide useful opportunities to practice your narrative and work on explaining complex material in clear and accessible ways. This week, work on brief responses to the following questions:

“Tell me about your research” 

  1. Start by filling in the sentence “My dissertation is about…(50 words or less)” and come up with a surprising or unusual fact about your research.
  2. Don’t use jargon or academic language – gear it to the layperson. Would your family or friends outside of your field understand?
  3. To maximize interest, think about the big picture – how is your research contributing to our understanding of the world around us, or to the current body of work on this topic? What is your innovation? (new sources, new approach etc)
  4. Consider the desired outcome.
  5. Convey your excitement and enthusiasm for your subject.

“Tell me about your interest in career X” (see optional worksheet)

  1. What experiences sparked this interest? Consider your academic work, any jobs or internships, and extracurricular activities.  For example, perhaps a leadership role with a student organization made you realize that you really enjoy project management and working in collaborative teams.
  2. What is your motivation for making this transition out of academia?
  3. What skills have you developed or are developing to support Career X?
  4. What else might make you a good fit for this position?

Optional Resources

  1. Communicating Research to a General Audience, from Inside HigherEd
  2. Animated video on Telling Your Story(only 3 minutes)
  3. How to tell a great story about your transition out of academia(Jobs on Toast)
  4. Preparing for the Non-Academic Interview(Inside Higher Ed)
  5. What’s your Story?(Harvard Business Review)
  6. Yale 3-Minute Thesis video
  7. Develop your Personal Marketing Plan (OCS website)

Group Activities

For the first half of the session, take turns explaining your research and career interest stories to the group. Don’t worry if it’s not polished! Use this session to practice your story telling.  Invite feedback from your group, such as:

  1. Is terminology clear?
  2. Is there any part of your story that is confusing?