It’s that time of year when students are preparing to walk across the stage to accept their diplomas and enter the workforce. Nearing graduation can elicit a deluge of emotions ranging from excitement to anxiety and uncertainty. But not to fear! The Career Center is here to quell some of those pre-graduation jitters.
The counselors at the Career Center — Andrew Green and Debra Behrens — help graduate students and postdocs plan their career paths by providing workshops, one-on-one counseling and utilizing resources on the web. Although the Career Center serves over 2,500 students per year, the services are personalized to fit individual needs and also encourages students to identify their ultimate career goals.
“The place to start is not with a resume or looking at job ads, but is internal,” Green says. When students enter Green’s office, they’re given an opportunity for “self-realization,” to explore the particular experience that they want from a job instead of settling for an undesirable position.
Doctoral candidates who are looking for jobs outside of academia often apply to positions that don’t require a Ph.D., so they’re faced with the challenge of proving that they’re suitable for the job. Green helps students discover their objectives so that they can articulate their accomplishments and career goals to potential employers. “Our workshops and counseling gives them a strategic and systematic way to sort through their options based on their underlying interests, values and skills,” Green explains.
After students have identified their goals, the center helps them “fill the ignorance gap” by using the web to search for jobs that match their skills and accomplishments. Green also encourages students to use LinkedIn to identify different jobs that alums have pursued.
“Ph.D. students are part of an enormously strong, self-identified community that has others who went through the same transformative process — and they are your best allies,” he says.
In one-on-one consultations, Green helps students create an effective resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn account and prepares them in mock interviews.
Through workshops, the counselors also provide specific training on skills such as preparing for interviews and networking. Because Master’s programs typically have their own specific career development services, the center primarily offers advice to Ph.D. students and postdocs — although any students can request to host Career Center workshops at their departments.
Outside of the Career Center, student-run programs such as Beyond Academia and CDIPS (Career Development in Professional Sciences) offer workshops and lectures to help students pave a career path. The Beyond Academia Conference, held March 16-17, drew over 300 graduate students. Although neuroscience and psychology students initiated the annual conference three years ago, it has expanded to include many other disciplines. At this year’s conference, topics included “The Enjoyment of Employment”— which focused on finding jobs that suit your personality — and “Negotiating Job Offers.”
In addition, the Graduate Division will be expanding its career services with a professional development staff member, website and center that will be launching in the fall semester. The Professional Development website will provide links to different resources around campus for students to consider their career options as soon as they enter the university. Graduate students will also be exposed to non-academic career paths at the beginning of their programs so that they can plan their individual development.
Because the job search can be a lengthy process, Green recommends that students begin seeking services one to one-and-a-half years prior to graduation so that they can effectively weigh their options. “Your ability to move forward successfully involves a willingness to invest some time in your own future, and we’re here to help you with that,” Green says.
To learn more about upcoming events or to seek counseling, visit the Career Center website.