Lynne M. Casper

Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography
Photo by: Steve Cohn Photography

USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Sociology teaches us the “four Cs” to professional success: financial capital, human capital, cultural capital, and social capital. My success as a mentor lies in helping graduate students attain these four Cs. First, I do my best to ensure they have the financial capital needed to purchase their research equipment and resources, to support additional training, and to travel to professional meetings. Second, I believe students cannot become excellent researchers simply by reading books and attending class seminars. To enhance human capital is to teach hands-on research skills by sitting down with my students at the computer to build models and code data together. Third, no professional development is complete without instilling cultural capital.

I teach students how to navigate the professional world they are about to enter: how to prepare a manuscript for publication and submit it to a journal, how to write an award winning proposal for funding, and how to prepare a presentation for a professional conference. Finally, success is not only about what you know, how you use it, and how you fund it, it’s about social capital as well — benefits that accrue through social networks of relationships. I make it a point to introduce my students to professors, researchers, and government officials both in the U.S. and abroad. I insist that my students submit research to a wide array of conferences and that even if it is joint research, that they present it themselves in order to begin attaining visibility early on in their academic careers.