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Erin Davenport is a second year student in Sociology. She recently defended her Master’s degree and is moving on to study for the PhD in the same program. 

1. Tell us a little more about what you’re studying at the moment and/or what your research focuses on.

For my Master’s thesis I used fieldnotes, photography, and most importantly interview data to show how gentrifiers describe gentrification as both a racialized and a race-neutral process, evoke a sense of placelessness to deny displacement has occurred, and avoid considering individual responsibility for neighborhood changes. I am broadly interested in how spaces and places develop cultures of inequality.

2. What are your general career interests or professional goals after graduate school?

My goal is to be a faculty member at a U.S. college or university.

3. How has participating in the Graduate School’s professional development programs and offerings benefited your professional development? Is there a particular program or resource that has helped you the most or that you found to be especially valuable?  

I have found CIRTL programming to be very aligned with my goals and interests. I appreciate that it lets me learn about teaching from an objective, evidence-based perspective. Teaching is an art, but it can also be a science, and learning about the science of learning from experts helps me better understand what students need. I particularly enjoyed offerings on course design and mentoring. Diversity and inclusion programming, including Green Zone and Mental Health First AID trainings have also helped me feel more prepared to respond to students’ needs.

4. Are there other steps you are taking now as a graduate student to prepare yourself for the job market/your industry?

Other ways I’ve tried to prepare myself for the job market is by building a professional website, attending conferences, and staying up to date on news surrounding higher education.

5. What is something you wish you had known about professional development in your first year of graduate school? 

I wish I knew how many resources there were at UNC. As I go along, I continue to encounter new ones all the time, and it’s great to tap into them as early as possible.

6. Do you have any professional development or career planning advice to offer your fellow graduate students?

I would recommend starting with understanding your strengths, and then finding a way to get some external certification or validation of those: in other words, find a way to prove it. This will not only make your resume stronger, but it will connect you to other people who have similar priorities. And if you have extra time, try to work on your weaknesses as well and branch out of your comfort zone.

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