graduate school

Meet Dan Olson-Bang, Associate Director, Graduate Student Services

Dan Olson-Bang
Meet Dan Olson-Bang!

Our new Associate Director just joined the office on Monday, November 3! We thought this would be a great time to introduce him to you, so we asked him to answer some questions about himself.

Slice of Advice: Tell us why you’re so excited to start working at Career Services/SU and/or why are you excited to be in Syracuse?
Dan Olson-Bang: One of the things that I look forward to in my role in Career Services is to meet with a wide variety of graduate students from across SU’s campus. I really like to hear about the kinds of projects that people are working on and to learn about different disciplines. My own interests run toward the eclectic (I really like to learn about the science of cooking and I enjoy biology, for instance), so I hope to learn some cool things from everyone! I also think I am going to learn quite a bit from everyone in the Career Services office, which is really exciting to me.

I also look forward to spending more time outdoors than I could where I used to live. Since I know about snowy Syracuse, I’m looking forward to learning how to ski. But I also like to camp and hike, which should be a bit easier than it was for me near New York City.

SOA: Tell us your favorite hobby.
DOB: Cycling. I love everything about bikes: I like to fix them, I like to have them, and I like to ride them. I particularly like old ones. I have a classic Italian racing bike from 1963 that I got at a garage sale that is my pride and joy (even if parts periodically fall off of it). I also follow professional racing like the Tour de France. My dream is to get a “snow bike” as they call them, which is a mountain bike with huge tires, to ride in Syracuse’s snowy winters!

SOA: Tell us an interesting fact or skill you have.
DOB: I was born in Germany. People always ask if I was an Army kid, since I came to America at 18 months, but my dad was an opera singer, singing in Germany and Austria. You could say that he is a recovering opera singer now. As for me, I play a few instruments myself (badly), and am a music lover like everyone else in my family.

SOA: I f you could have any superpower what would it be?
DOB: I can tell you what superpower I would like to have: speed! I love going fast on my bike, so it would always be great to go just a little faster. A more dubious superpower that I have been told that I have is an ability to spot grammatical errors at a hundred feet, a skill that I will hope to use with all those cover letters I’ll read in Career Services.

What You Need to Know Before Going to Grad School Overseas

By Adam Britten, Class of 2011

I’m a big fan of the app TimeHop. Using posts from your various social media accounts, it reminds you what you were doing exactly one year ago. For me, this means that for the past few months, I’ve been seeing my old Foursquare check-ins from the grocery store near my flat, Facebook statuses about term papers written from a computer lab near Buckingham Palace, and even Instagram photos of my favorite museum in Brussels.

After obtaining my Bachelor’s in Marketing Management from Whitman in 2011, I pursued a Master’s in Digital Marketing at Hult International Business School in London. Attending an international grad school was one of the best choices I made for my career and for my personal growth. If you’re considering attending a graduate program in another country, here are a few things I’d recommend.

Do Your Research.  When you were applying to college, you might have done a few campus visits before making your final decision. This can be much harder when you are considering international schools. Try to absorb as much online content about the school as you can. It also helps to look for local conferences and other events that the schools you are considering are attending so you can talk with representatives. Make sure you are making an informed decision so that if and when you do get on that airplane, you’re confident in your decision and ready for what’s ahead.

Plan Your Finances Carefully.  Bank accounts, rent, emergency funds, and health insurance can be a lot to deal with. This can be especially taxing if you are doing it under a different set of regulations, or in another language. Consider things like foreign transaction fees and currency conversion rates. Be prepared for things like needing to pay a really large deposit for your apartment or a trip to the doctor. Don’t forget to build in spending money to enjoy your surroundings! (My budget included enough money for occasional theater tickets. It was one of my favorite things about living in London!)

Adam Britten in Paris, of course!
Adam Britten in Paris, of course!

Explore Safely & Often.  One of the benefits of living in another country, especially a European country, is the opportunity to travel. During my breaks in between terms, I visited Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and even Disneyland Paris. Traveling across cultural and language barriers can be intimidating on your own, so it’s important to be prepared. Embrace it as an opportunity, but keep your wits about you. Your family will also frequently want to know that you are safe and well; a good way to do this is by writing a travel blog or tweeting about the places you visit. (This will also give your future self a lot of amazing TimeHop content!)

Overall, the decision to attend graduate school in another country is one that I would highly recommend. It helped me develop skills that I use to my advantage at work, as well as gave me several amazing experiences that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

(Further reading: Will Going to Grad School Immediately After College Set Your Career Back?)

Adam Britten has a Bachelor’s in Marketing Management from the Whitman School of Management (2011) and a Master’s in Digital Marketing from Hult International Business School (2012.) He is the Social Media Manager at 16 Handles frozen yogurt. He can be found on Twitter @AdamBritten or at his blog

"Should I Go To Grad School?"

By Alaina Spadaro, G’14
Graduate Assistant, Career Services

Graduate Assistant
Alaina is the graduate assistant in Career Services. In this post, she shares some thoughts and resources about pursuing a graduate degree program.

To Go or Not to Go?
Wondering about graduate school? Well, “Should I go to graduate school?” is a common question we hear in Career Services and one that I am familiar with personally. When I was in my senior year of undergrad, I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to pursue a degree past my B.A. and if so, what program of study I should choose.  I knew how much effort it would take to apply and had to decide quickly. Time limitations, financial concerns, and family pressures combined to make my graduate school decision complex. The choice to go or not to go is unique for every individual and situation.

I would not recommend graduate school to someone who is unclear about his or her career path. There’s a lot of emphasis in today’s economy on continuing your education. However, without a specific career goal in mind or without being ready, the pressure of graduate studies could become too much. Personally, I needed to be certain that I really wanted the job opportunities that would be available when I finish my graduate degree. Otherwise, I don’t know if I would have the motivation and willpower to complete the demanding program.

Identify Your Career Path
In my opinion, the most important aspect of deciding whether you should go to graduate school is to identify your career path. There are many different fields and industries to consider and you want to make the best decision for you and what you want out of life. It might sound cheesy, but knowing your “work self” is pivotal to finding a rewarding employment opportunity down the road. Your work self is a term we use to help students define their unique capabilities, interests, and values impacting their career decisions. Many undergraduates don’t get the opportunity to think about what they value in a career, whether it’s work-life balance, organizational structure, or workplace culture. If you don’t know your work self very well, I’d say that work experience trumps education.

NOTE: You don’t have to go graduate school right after undergraduate studies. Many have successfully completed graduate degrees both during and after obtaining some work experience.  Often, work experience shows you what it’s really like in your field of interest and what kind of education is required to advance. 

The Application Process
Once you identify your career path and realize an advanced degree is the appropriate next step, prepare to apply (and that can be daunting).  I have to be honest…the application process takes much more time than you anticipate. If you’re considering graduate school the fall of your senior year, then you better hustle to get your applications together for the following fall. Often, application deadlines are in January and February.  Not to mention, many graduate schools and programs require a standardized test (GRE, GMAT, MCAT, and LSAT). Below are some resources that I’ve compiled to help you along the way.

Some useful links when considering graduate programs:

Below are links to the main pages for graduate school exams:

You’re Not in This Alone
There’s no way that I could address all the concerns and questions you, as an individual, have about the application process or grad school. I hope, however, that you realize that you don’t have to navigate the question: “Should I go to grad school?” on your own.

For more advice on the many aspects of the graduate school application process, please come to Career Services to speak with a counselor. We would be happy to discuss your decision with you or answer any question you might have along the way.  Just call 443-3616 to set up an appointment or stop by the office at 235 Schine Student Center during Drop-ins.

Our counselors can help you:

  • Clarify whether you should pursue a master’s degree or a PhD
  • Research graduate schools and programs
  • Develop a strategy for the application process
  • Fine-tune your personal statement
  • Revise your resume for graduate school
  • Practice for your graduate school interview
  • Understand what a GA/TA/RA is and how to apply

Best of luck with your decision! And please let us know if we can help.

VLOG: Social Media and the Job Search with Alyssa Henry

By Tracy Tillapaugh

Syracuse University iSchool graduate student Alyssa Henry has been using Twitter for several years. She has had some great successes using Twitter and offers her tips to current students on what to tweet and how it can help with their career goals. Watch her discuss her Twitter strategies with Career Consultant Tracy Tillapaugh. Connect with @AlyssaHenry.


How has social media helped in your career development?