Post Academic

The Post Academic Road Warrior Guide: Expense Reports

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 4, 2010
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PhotobucketThe last installment of the Post Academic Business Travel Survival Guide involves what happens after you return from a business trip. Though it’s easy to get caught up in scheduling and logistics, you still need to get paid. Enter a concept that will seem bizarre to many academics: When you’re traveling for work, the boss pays for almost everything.

But there’s a catch–you have to fill out an expense report. It’s not rocket science, but you want to get these reports right so you can get your money back. These tips can keep you from getting stuck with a business-travel tab:

Read your company’s expense report policy before you go anywhere. Every company policy is different. Some companies will cover everything. Some won’t. For example, a company might say it will cover your meals but not your booze. You might even be able to rent an in-room movie, but make sure the title doesn’t wind up on your receipt lest you gross out the company accountant.

Image of an accounting office by Kenneth Allen from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

The Post Academic Road Warrior Guide: Dealing With Customers

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 3, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionWhen on a business trip, your primary purposes will likely involve making a product, selling a product or maintaining a relationship with someone who buys your product. From the past posts, it’s clear that business trips can render you frazzled, but you must at least be on your game when interacting with the customer. Really, there’s only one bold takeaway regarding dealing with a customer on a trip:

Remember that you’re representing your boss and your company.

In the grand scheme of things, you do not want to be known as the schmuck who got sloshed at the hotel bar and used the company card to shop on eBay. On a less dramatic level, you also don’t want to be known as the individual who let sleep deprivation get the better of her and lost her patience with a client.

When you speak to others on a business trip, you’re not just speaking for yourself. You’re speaking for the whole company. I’ll admit that it’s a lot of pressure, but it’s actually easier than teaching. When teaching, you have to impress students, many of whom don’t want to be in the class. You’re only in the class for a short time, but it’s exhausting trying to sell yourself all the time. It’s like one painful job interview that happens over and over again.

With a business trip, the real issue is stamina. The customer or client is probably already in some sort of business relationship with you, so you actually don’t have to sell as hard as you would in a classroom. You just need to show that you are a professional and finish the task at hand. If you follow the tips from the days past, which amount to being prepared and maintaining a good relationship with everyone else on your team, you’re going to be just fine. My last installment of the Business Travel Survival Guide is a little more mundane, as it involves one of the most dreadful aspects of business travel–the expense report!

Image of a boardroom at the Virginia Beach Convention Center by Vbccevents, from Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.

The Post Academic Road Warrior Guide: Dealing With Colleagues

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on December 1, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionThe biggest challenge of business travel can arise if you are traveling with several people from your company. You spend time with your colleagues all day long, even more so than when you were in the Ivory Tower. Imagine being in a car with them, sharing a hotel room with them or negotiating where you’ll go for dinner. You are going to be miserable if you don’t figure out how to adapt early on. If you follow these tips, you can legitimately list “people skills” on your resume:

Be tolerant of the musical tastes of others. Academics and post academics usually have the most exquisite musical tastes. The synthy auto-tuned stuff on most radio stations will not do, but people take their music seriously, and you can’t insult them by going on a tirade about how much Ke$ha sucks. Even if you are the driver, offer to rotate radio stations every now and then.

Keep the conversation light. Anyone who’s been in grad school can leap into deep conversation right after an introduction. But very few people are into that, and you don’t want to piss anyone off right from the start. Places you’ve traveled or good restaurants are typical havens for safe conversation.

More road rules after the jump! Image of a car stereo by Notwist, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The Post Academic Road Warrior Guide: Packing

Posted in Transfer Your Skills by Caroline Roberts on November 29, 2010
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Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionI just returned from a series of work-related road trips, and it occurred to me that post academics might need advice on how to deal if their hamster bosses send them out for a job.

Business trips can’t be that different from conferences, right? Well, they’re better in that you don’t have to foot the bill for the flight and hotel. You will probably score free meals, too. But, yes, business trips are similar to conferences in that you have to sit in lots of meetings with strangers, and you have obscenely long days. The following trips will help you be ready for anything–because anything can happen:

Travel light. If you can avoid checking a bag, do it. Since you have less to lug around, you reduce the chances of missing a flight connection. Also, the less you pack means the less you have to leave behind in a hotel or restaurant while on the trip.

Be aware that the GPS that the rental car company gives you is useless. Either print out directions before you go, or ask a travel companion with a smartphone to navigate. The GPS is programmed with fail.

More ways to brace yourself for a business road trip after the jump! Image of a plastic suitcase by William Wessen, from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.