Most of you will enter our graduate program expecting to take classes, pass exams, and (ultimately) write a dissertation. But being a graduate student is about much more than that. As a graduate student, you will be a full member of the department, which means that you will be invited to take part in our intellectual and social life. We hope that you will not only attend department lectures (as well as lectures and seminars hosted by the Humanities Center), but also participate in the question and answer sessions and discussions afterward. When you become a member of one or several of our thriving graduate student colloquia, you will present some of your own work and engage invited speakers in debate. You will also be integrated into undergraduate life as a teacher, and it may be that, like many of our students, you will find employment as a non-resident or resident tutor. We will refrain from mentioning all the receptions, barbecues, and parties you can also anticipate, and instead simply urge you to take full advantage of the rich intellectual and social life of this institution. Let us assure you, too, that we’ll provide all kinds of assistance as you make your way from a recently-arrived first year to becoming a professional researcher and scholar.
Yes, graduate school is a professional school, and all the mysteries of the profession, from publication and conferences, to teaching, presentations, and job interviews will be revealed to you over the next few years. Speaking of job interviews: while many of our graduates pursue careers in academia, a good number seek other opportunities, which is something we not only encourage, but also actively promote. Recent graduates have become business consultants at McKinsey, pursued careers in library services, and taken teaching positions at private prep schools.
No matter what career you choose after graduate school, your time in the department will be marked by intellectual growth, and by the end of your time with us you will have made an original contribution to literary scholarship. I know that this is an exciting if perhaps also daunting prospect, but one that will be richly rewarding.