Graduate students at UNC Charlotte are learning how to boil down extensive and complex research or scholarship into a brief, compelling presentation that anyone can understand – especially the boss. In November each year, students take what they’ve learned to the stage in the Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.
The professional development courses – and the competition – come from the Graduate School’s Center for Graduate Life (CGL) in Cone University Center, Room 268. The CGL exists to provide a comfortable place, a sense of community and the developmental support to help graduate students navigate their time here and find success when they graduate.
The CGL programming fits what appears to be a growing need. According to an article in Fast Company, American employers say nearly half of graduates arrive on the job lacking the interpersonal skills to succeed.
“Polishing communication and other soft skills like critical thinking and decision making has long been a focus for our Center for Graduate Life,” said Tom Reynolds, associate provost and dean of the Graduate School. “We assess what employers are looking for, beyond the educational discipline, and develop the supplemental programming to meet those needs.”
Students hone their skills in CGL courses and workshops such as Workplace Communications, Elements of Business Writing and Strategies for Communicating Your Research. Then, they can put those skills to the test through the 3MT competition.
Through 3MT, a program that originated at the University of Queensland, Australia, participants compete based on how clear and engaging they can be with their research presentation. The presentations are limited to three minutes and the contestants may use only one static slide.
Finalists in this year’s UNC Charlotte competition will deliver presentations at 3 p.m., Friday, Nov. 9, in the Atkins Library Halton Reading Room. Winners will earn cash prizes and a chance to travel to this year’s Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual meeting in Knoxville.
A reception and celebration of the winners will follow the competition.
The first 3MT competition was held in 2008 with 160 University of Queensland research students competing. Since then, the competition has spread to 350 universities across 18 countries.
Visit the Center for Graduate Life for more information on the Graduate School’s professional development opportunities.