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Being Able to Explain Yourself Academically: An Interview with LeBow's Chris Laincz

By Erica Levi Zelinger

March 16, 2015

Chris Lainz

Nevena Bosnic was one of those exceptional, top-achieving students when she came to work as a research assistant with Dr. Chris Laincz of the Department of Economics. She was an aggressive go-getter and on top of everything. So it was no surprise that it was Bosnic (Economics, BS, ’12) who introduced Laincz to the Drexel Fellowships Office while she was parlaying her interests in economics, politics and policy into an application for the Carnegie Junior Fellows Program.

“I didn’t even know they existed but found Rona, the director of the Fellowships Office, to be really helpful and really on top of what she is doing,” Laincz says. 

When Laincz became the head of the LeBow PhD Program two years ago, he set out to find resources that could benefit his students.

“The Fellowships Office was one of the first offices we went to,” Laincz says. 

Recently, the Fellowships Office sat down with Lainz to find out why.

Drexel Fellowships Office (DFO): What would you say to encourage LeBow students to apply for fellowships?
CL: I tell them that it’s an important practice for their job prospects. There’s a lot of money out there that you are ignoring that you could have. And the practice and experience of going through it will serve you well. You have to expect that it is going to be part of your career.

DFO: Why do you think it’s important for your students to apply for fellowships?
CL: Ideally our students are going on to academic positions and it is a really cutthroat competitive market and they really need to be able to explain themselves. So a lot of the practice of a fellowship application is writing about your research. It is one thing to explain your research in your academic area, but you have to be able to explain this to deans or administration. It is so important to get your own language down as a researcher and academic.

Going through this can also help you with a job interview. A fellowship application can force you to sit down and think about answers to critical questions. And then you’ll have the answers in your arsenal.

Plus, PhDs are very expensive so any help they can get to get through this, the better. 

DFO: What are common obstacles that business students face in applying for fellowships?
CL: Time constraints. Putting a fellowship application together is hard enough but they can be difficult just to locate. Most of the grant money that is out there is for engineering and hard sciences. So the most time consuming process is finding them. I wish we had a better mechanism for letting students know what’s out there.

LeBow could use a full-time person – someone looking for the fellowships and then selecting students who fit the bill.

DFO: What advice do you have for students who’ve previously applied for fellowships and didn’t get them?
CL: Keep trying. I suppose everyone says keep trying. It could be how much input and feedback and collaboration you had when you applied. It might be as simple as 50 typos on page 1. No matter how good your credentials are, that isn’t going to fly. Keep your eyes out for the next one because you’ve already done a lot of the work. The first one is the hardest one to get done.