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Other resources

Posted 8/18/2021

I’ve read many articles and books over the years, and the following were impactful enough that I kept them and recommended them to others. Some offer advice that differs from my own, and that’s good! For tricky situations without straightforward answers, seek multiple perspectives and find the advice that fits your values and priorities.

New or aspiring grad students

A Field Guide to Grad School: Uncovering the Hidden Curriculum

If I could recommend one book for graduate students, this would be it. I plan to give it to all my new advisees. It is a great entry-level book for new or aspiring graduate students, as it covers lots of getting-started type issues. It is also quite affordable.

The author’s personal stories and experiences make the advice very concrete and relatable. Those stories are supported by citations to scholarship that provides generality for the ideas. The book is heavily referenced (with 50 pages of references and notes) but easy to read. The author is a Sociology Professor, so a few sections are more tailored towards social sciences norms, but I found most content relevant and valuable as an engineer.

The book is clearly organized with 12 chapters covering topics such as choosing a graduate program, reviewing literature, and going to conferences. I particularly enjoyed the “Building your team” chapter about cultivating mentors. In all sections, the author addresses the extra challenges faced by students from marginalized groups, and her expertise on this topic is evident. 

Michael Ernst web page

This page has a wealth of great articles for scholars ranging from undergraduate students to faculty. A few pieces are specific to computer science scholarship, but the majority have excellent advice for anyone. 

Adam M.-A. Simpson web page

This page has a thorough guide on applying to grad school, including guidance on practical logistics and detailed example documents. The materials were written with minority students in mind. He also creates YouTube videos presenting academic advice and interviews with scholars from under-represented demographic groups. 

Job searches

Tomorrow’s professor: Preparing for academic careers in science and engineering

I relied on this book as a grad student in the early 2000’s—an era where advice resources were much more scarce. Although it was published in 1997, most of it is still accurate. It has valuable ideas about planning for both industry and academic careers, and calibrating expectations about the job search process. List price for this book is high, so look for a used copy. Stanford Libraries has a free electronic license to this book, so you might be able to find a free electronic copy from your library. 

The Professor Is In

This book focuses exclusively on navigating the academic job market. It came out since my time but seems to be the go-to book these days. An accompanying website has a blog, podcast, and other sources of information. 

The Academic Job Search Handbook book

I used this classic book during my academic job search, and it is still used at Stanford to coaches postdocs on the academic job search. Real-world examples and guidelines from successful applicants can help guide your development of application statements.

New and aspiring faculty

The Awesomest 7-Year Postdoc or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Tenure-Track Faculty Life

This article on finding balance in academic careers was revelatory when I first read it. I have since recommended it to anyone who voices fears about the lifestyle costs of an academic career.

David Evans web page

His how to live in paradise guide is a thought-provoking reminder that grad school and academic careers can be great, despite the problems and stresses. The page links to many other thought-provoking items, even if I don’t agree with all of them.


This accessible, humorous, and personal book describes life as a professor at a research university. It was originally a set of articles and blog posts, so it is easy to read a few pages at a time, though it also flows well end-to-end. The (anonymous) author provides frank comments about the extra pressures and challenges of being a female faculty member. While it is focused on professors, the author writes about characteristics of students that proceed to academic careers, and what they can do to be successful. One of my favorite sections discusses the process of writing papers—young faculty may get good ideas about how to manage this vital process, and students will profit from understanding an advisor’s perspective.


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