How to be a Successful Graduate Student

TA Ashley Byczkowksi (first row right) and her Fall 2017 French 213 class.

Teaching Assistant Ashley Byczkowksi (first row right) and her Fall 2017 French 213 class

  • Know the Policies and Procedures of the UB Graduate School. This manual provides important information for graduate students in all disciplines at UB.
  • Join the Graduate Student Association (GSA). The GSA is an active organization, involved with scheduling events on campus each semester, as well as other aspects of graduate student life. The GSA Office is located in Student Union Room 310. RLL graduate students elect their own GSA representative.
  • Take a leadership role. Graduate students are welcome to join and take leadership roles in any of the three Honor Societies housed in the department:

        1. Sigma Delta Pi for Spanish (Chapter Adviser, Prof. Scarlett,
        2. Gamma Kappa Alpha for Italian (Chapter Adviser, Prof. Chiesa,
        3. Pi Delta Phi for French (Chapter Adviser, Prof. Negrete,

  • Become involved in professional organizations. The Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) is a scholarly organization for professionals in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and other modern languages. NeMLA’s annual convention affords the opportunity for UB graduate students to share their research and meet with other scholars without having to travel far from Buffalo.

    The NeMLA Graduate Fellows Program provides graduate students unique opportunities to obtain practical experience in the working of a large academic convention and non-profit organization, to establish professional connections with scholars across the Northeast, and to gain insight into one of the most important forms of knowledge production and dissemination in the humanities. Additional interdisciplinary mentorship opportunities are available through the Women’s and Gender Studies Mentorship Program, pairing senior faculty mentors with doctoral students.

    The NeMLA Graduate Student Caucus provides resources to NeMLA graduate student members to help navigate graduate school towards successful completion of the degree and to prepare for future careers. At the annual convention, the Caucus organizes multiple sessions for social engagement and professional development, such as the Meet and Greet and the CV Clinic. Graduate students are encouraged to run for open elected positions in the Caucus, including as Representative to the NeMLA Board, for additional mentorship and professionalization opportunities.

    NeMLA also sponsors several membership awards and fellowships to promote new scholars in modern languages. The Graduate Student Caucus sponsors an Essay Award to recognize quality research presented at the annual convention by graduate students, as well as Travel Awards to decrease costs to attend the convention. The NeMLA Summer Fellowship Program supports the research of NeMLA members, especially graduate students, with up to $1,500 to defray the cost of research travel.

  • Find a job. Begin the search for full-time academic employment with a visit to the Modern Language Association Job Information List. This list carries the most announcements in the months of September and October. All you need is your UB email address to gain access. Another source of academic positions is the listing in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Access is free when signed in to a campus computer; you may also consult paper copies in the 910 mailroom of the Main Office. 

    In recent years, most PhD candidates who are on the academic job market have signed up for Interfolio to assemble their dossier of letters of recommendation, transcripts and CV. This requires a paid subscription. Please allow your professors at least one month to write your letter of recommendation.