Skip to main content

Teaching Fellow Program Offers New Professional Development Opportunities

September 29, 2015

As more and more students consider careers outside the classroom, the Graduate School is creating new opportunities for them to gain professional experience while still at Yale, in the University’s museums, libraries, and research centers. Beginning this semester, qualified students in their teaching years can apply for one-semester or full-year positions in lieu of teaching. Each position requires a commitment of 15-20 hours per week. The initiative is run through the Teaching Fellow Program (TFP) and is part of the Graduate School’s rethinking of how teaching assignments are configured for the optimal professional development of graduate students. The reconfiguration of the TFP was spearheaded by Pamela Schirmeister, dean of Strategic Initiatives, with a TF Working Group composed of faculty members and  administrators.

We are very pleased to be able to expand the repertoire of pedagogical training offered through the Graduate School and expect that these opportunities will engage students in ways crucial to their career plans,” said Schirmeister. This semester, ten pre-professional fellowships are available for students in their teaching years who want to learn about and try curating exhibitions, conducting archival research, and providing research support to other students. An additional two fellowships are available at the Graduate Writing Center.  These positions are designed to benefit the student-fellows, while assisting the organizations that take them on.

I think that the Professional Development Opportunities project is a brilliant initiative which allows students to expand their traditional training and professional horizons,” says Elena Kallestinova, director of the Writing Program, a division of the Center for Teaching and Learning. 

Graduate Writing fellows plan, organize, and lead academic writing workshops; coordinate Peer-Review Groups, Dissertation Boot Camps, and Study Halls; provide individual writing consultations; and develop academic writing resources. They update the Graduate Writing Center website and presence on social networks, and develop writing tutorials. Fellows are expected to have excellent academic writing and oral communication skills; experience in writing/publishing academic work and submitting/receiving fellowships or grants; strong organizational skills; experience organizing events; the ability to create flyers, advertising blurbs, and other publicizing materials; and proficiency with Google Drive, Excel, and Power Point.

Whether PhD students want to have an academic or a non-academic career, these professional opportunities can improve their teaching skills, provide individualized feedback, and allow them to obtain experience in the area of their interest. If they choose to work in the Graduate Writing Center, they can also learn more about academic writing, advance their research and writing skills, practice teaching writing, and develop their abilities to respond to other students’ writing,” says Kallestinova.

Another unit that is hoping to work with graduate student fellows is the Department of Manuscripts and Archives at Sterling Memorial Library. “We are delighted to have a fellow to introduce to the practices of archivists and the tools that help us make our materials available to the research community,” says Christine Weideman, director of the department.

The fellow in Manuscripts and Archives must specialize in 20th-century American history, architecture and city planning, or Latin American history. The fellow will be responsible for preparing a previously unavailable manuscript collection for research. This project requires analyzing the material, recommending organizational schemes and levels of description, writing biographical notes for online finding aids, assisting other graduate students with their research, helping with class-based instruction for undergraduates, and highlighting the collection in social media. Training will be provided in ArchivesSpace, an open source archival collection management system, and in other aspects of professional archival practice.

David Gary, the Kaplanoff Librarian for American History, is in charge of the vast collections that include American history, American Studies, African American and Caribbean history at the library. “These fields generate an immense number of queries from both students and faculty at Yale,” he says. In addition to answering inquiries, “Librarians meet individually with senior essayists and conduct workshops for faculty members using both special collections and electronic resources specially tailored to the classes faculty teach.” As a fellow, Gary says, a graduate student will explore an alternate career track, gain in-depth understanding of how an academic library works, learn about the extraordinary resources of Yale’s collections, and enrich his/her teaching portfolio. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library has created  two opportunities for graduate student fellows through the TFP. Kevin Repp, the Beinecke’s liaison for the program, hopes these professional opportunities will “provide graduate students with valuable, hands-on experience working with Beinecke collection materials and navigating the complex internal administrative structures we have in place at the library to support projects that are crucial to our mission.” Graduate students have the kinds of skills needed to further that mission, he explains, and the work student fellows will perform at the Beinecke will provide useful experience, enhancing their strengths in research, writing, outreach, and teaching.

The Beinecke has appointed one doctoral student who will develop and write content for a web portal to the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters. The position involves working with the curator to develop content to facilitate access to the collection. The fellow will select which holdings to feature, identify themes and groupings; and may even create guides or plans for teaching and learning.

The Beinecke also hopes to appoint a fellow to assist the curator of the Yale Collection of Western Americana, George Miles, in the preparation of an exhibition on contemporary photography and the North American West. The fellow will collaborate with Miles to identify appropriate works, complete background research on photographers, assist in obtaining intellectual property rights and securing permissions for use and reproduction, collaborate with staff to design the exhibition layout along with an accompanying web-version and a book-length illustrated printed catalog. The student will also develop and plan public events in conjunction with the exhibition.

The International Collections and Research Support Department of the library has a position for a student with an excellent reading knowledge of Russian who is considering a career in an academic research library. The fellow will assist the Interim Librarian for Slavic and East European Studies with reference work, student research consultations, instruction, and collection development, while learning about collection development and management, including researching the availability of materials, tracking vendor approval plans, and helping conduct trials of electronic resources.

The Humanities Collections and Research Education Department of the library is planning to appoint a graduate student fellow who specializes in American history or American Studies, preferably with a focus on the twentieh century. The fellow will respond to e-mail reference questions, hold one-on-one meetings with undergraduates working on senior theses, and assist with instructional sessions.

The Cushing/Whitney Medical Historical Library has an opportunity for a graduate student fellow specializing in American history, American Studies, or the history of science and medicine to select materials for a Spring 2017 exhibit commemorating America’s entrance into World War I through the lens of medicine, disease, and health. The fellow will delve into the wartime diaries of Dr. Harvey Cushing (a pioneer in neurosurgery and founder of the Medical Historical Library) and will learn to use Omeka, an online exhibition platform, to create the digital component of the exhibit. Working under the supervision of Melissa Grafe, head of the Medical Historical Library, the fellow will assist with general archival work and other duties associated with the collection, such as creating a finding aid.

The Oral History of American Music (OHAM) collection at Yale’s Irving S. Gilmore Music Library created a position for a sixth-year graduate student who has in-depth knowledge of contemporary American music or cultural history to work on public and scholarly outreach and the creation of LibGuides. Under the direction of Libby Van Cleve, OHAM’s director, the fellow will present materials to classes at Yale, seminars at nearby universities, and local arts groups such as the New Haven Symphony. The fellow will be encouraged to prepare an article based on OHAM materials to submit to a scholarly journal and will create a subject guide for a particular area of the student’s interest or expertise. The fellow will receive training and assist in the arrangement and description of audiovisual archival materials, prepare audio, video, and verbal excerpts to be included on OHAM’s website, and learn oral history procedures and best practices, with the possibility of conducting interviews for the “Major Figures in American Music” collection.

The Gilmore Music Library wants to collaborate with a second graduate student fellow with expertise in American and/or choral music to assist with the processing of archival collections. The fellow may also assist with exhibits (particularly one celebrating the 100th birthday of Robert Shaw in spring 2016), help with research inquiries, and engage in outreach to other Yale graduate students.

The Peabody Museum of Natural History has set up two student fellow positions. One is for a doctoral student with experience in archival materials to help design and develop an exhibition celebrating the 150th anniversary of the museum in 2016. The fellow will document the history of the building, galleries, and staff over the decades.  The Peabody Museum’s Division of Anthropology plans to take on a student fellow to perform scholarly cataloging of objects, background research, digital photography, and data base assembly for one or more of the museum’s archaeological or ethnographic collections. Preference will go to a student with expertise in beads and beaded artifacts or prehistoric archaeological material from Costa Rica or the Near East.