Crafting a strong professional identity is an important part of the experience of being a graduate student. In our Department, graduate students have many opportunities for professional growth in all areas of English Studies. These opportunities include an honors society, graduate student organizations, department-supported conferences, funding for professional travel, and mentoring in preparation for the job search.
The Association of Literary Scholars is a student organization that supports graduate students specializing in literature. ALS members are organized into small groups that have similar research interests who meet at least once a month to share their research questions, discuss ideas, recommend further reading, and offer feedback.
The Rhetoric Society of America at Illinois State University, or RSISU, was founded in Fall 2010. It is affiliated with the national Rhetoric Society of America organization.
RSISU encourages the collaborative learning of scholars and teachers of rhetoric through various activities including reading and writing groups and an annual conference.
The ISU chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honor society, offers academically excellent students professional, service, and social opportunities. The chapter has both a graduate and undergraduate president and publishes a graduate student volume of its journal Polyglossia each spring.
The New Directions in English Studies Conference has been sponsored by the English Department since 1992. Each spring, graduate students organize the conference and present many of the papers.
Held each spring in the Bone Student Center, the Illinois State Graduate Research Symposium offers opportunities for graduate students to present what they have learned through their research, scholarship, and creative endeavors. The symposium also offers small research grants to help graduate students complete their research.
Professional travel is an important aspect of the graduate student experience at Illinois State. Graduate students who plan to present a paper at an international, national or regional conference; who are invited to make presentations of original, creative work; who plan to attend a conference for a job interview; or who plan to travel to conduct archival or field research as part of their program of study may apply—once every academic year—for financial support from the Department of English.
The Department regularly hosts mentoring sessions for Master's and Ph.D. students who are preparing to go on the job market. The mentoring includes suggestions on preparing materials for the job search, mock interviews, and advice when negotiating a job offer. Much of this advice is summarized in our Get a Job! Blog.
The graduate forum consists of monthly meetings, organized by graduate students, focusing on program policies, university policies, and professional development opportunities. The meetings are open to all graduate students.