One of the things you need to prepare is a good cover letter. Make sure you spell the person’s name correctly! Then for your first paragraph state what you are applying for and where you heard about the opportunity. The next paragraph should be all about you in relation to this particular role. I have fifteen years experience working with children, predominantly as a teacher for 5 – 8 year olds. During that time I have frequently been commended by my colleagues, superiors and pupils parents for my ability to encourage the best effort and behaviour from my charges. I have recently undertaken a distance learning course with the Open University to complete my MBA. My dissertation was a business plan with specific focus on how strong marketing creates desire within the market and improves sales. Having studied this opportunity and researched your Company I think there is a lot I could bring to this role and I would be delighted to come and discuss this with you in more detail. I have enclosed a copy of my CV for your perusal. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Then finish with yours sincerely if it is a letter or kind regards for an email, your full name and telephone number(s). Make sure you attach your CV (we will talk about CVs all of next week so if you have any questions you want answering start sending them to us now). Finally SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK, SPELL CHECK. When our spelling is perfect, it’s invisible.

I had always worked full time during school so had a marathon rather than a sprint mentality about it. Our baby had health problems, then family members had health problems, and over the next 4 years, armed with health related extensions that put off my school from pestering me, I finished. Babies wake you up at weird hours and then go to sleep again, so I’d work at weird hours. Work was flexible. I gave myself permission to put it aside, sometimes for up to a year. When I got back into it, I got used to writing at night on a regular basis. I was helped to understand by some of my readers that this was not my life’s work, that it was ok to ”just get it done”, and maybe it was normal to be sick of it and just plain disinterested. And probably most useful, I had friends who were taking as long – some with kids, some without. Some would finish before me and be inspiring. Some would have life troubles and keep working slowed down – and be inspiring.

My kid grew bigger. It felt like I was being a good role model by telling her I was working when she’d find me if she woke up in the middle of the night, and I’d stop to be with her. At graduation, one of the people from my cohort had her 7 year old burn all her papers because her child was so sick of living with them – it was cathartic for them all. There was a nursing mothers club in cohorts behind me. I hope this rambling helps. If you want to talk about it, feel free to email. Enjoy your daughter and good luck with your decision. I know from first hand experience how hard it is to get back to your dissertation after a baby. I can suggest three strategies which have worked very well for me at different points in my life. One is a writing group, which can be formed by you and another person or more people. It does not have to be big. The group aggrees to meet at regular intervals (I have done it weekly and monthly).

Each time, a member distributes a chapter or paper beforehand to be read by the group and discussed at the meeting. The group support and feedback is invaluable and the structure of deadlines helps you get some writing done. The second is consulting with Neil Fiore. I first worked with Fiore in the mid eighties when he worked at UC’s Counseling Center. Later, I joined a group at his private practice. He is great about helping people move along in their work. He is a psychologist and author of many books. The third is working outside your home, even if for some of the time in a regular place. My brother-in-law worked in a cafe. Years later, I worked in his office in the evenings and weekends. In addition, Stanford’s Tomorrow’s Professor E-mail List had a posting last week on writing and publishing with interesting research data that might be helpful. People who write everyday and also account to someone weekly on their writing wrote more than any other group.

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