Running grad student seminars

by Michael Ernst (
written May, 1998 (and likely quite out of date by now)

The grad student seminar web page is; the local filename is /cse/www/orgs/student-affairs/gsc/seminar/index.html.

It's quite reasonable to reuse the previous year's list of topics and approximate schedule; this reduces your organizational effort considerably. At the beginning of the year, archive the previous year's WWW pages, such as putting them in a subdirectory like 9798/.



Room reservations:


Getting speakers:

Preparing speakers:

Running the seminar:

After the seminar:

Suggestions for things to change or add

At the beginning of the autumn term, ask everyone in the department to write a paragraph about each internship they've had, to give people an idea of what different companies are like; then put this on a WWW page.

There was a suggestion that a few faculty that have spent time at research labs and academia have lunch with interested grad students who are making career decisions.

Gripe sessions should happen more often, say 2-3 times per year instead of once. And possibly two first year gripe sessions rather than just one. Gripe sessions should occur in the middle of a term: at the beginning no one remembers the pain of past problems, and at the end everyone is so grouchy that it's not really fair. It might be a good idea to have a gripes@cs email address that people can mail [anonymously?] to... anonymity is a powerful enabler, especially when it comes to gripes! The system administration staff should be asked to set this up.

You may want to work with job-seekers of this year to help arranging the “What's Been Happening While You Were Doing Your Thesis” seminar. Job-seekers have traditionally arranged it themselves and it is mainly for them, but others can also benefit.

Hold the “Jobs” seminar late. Those most interested in the seminar aren't taking classes any more, so the last week of the semester is fine, and fewer people are still interviewing or mulling over their job offers.

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Michael Ernst