Photo: Nico Carrera, Unsplash

Course selection. Fellowship applications. Post-graduation plans. Do I have the right skills to be a professor? To work in government? To join a start-up? Is that even what I want to do? Attend the next Grad Mapping Workshop on Thursday, December 5th at 2:30 p.m. in 309 Sproul Hall to work on your life and career goals in a supportive environment. Read on for what to expect.

Ever feel like you are wandering through the wilderness of grad school? As J.R.R. Tolkein says, however, “Not all those who wander are lost.” And grad school may be the perfect time for you to do some healthy wandering. 

When my partner and I travel to a city, instead of taking an official tour or following a particular itinerary, we like to wander. We pick a seemingly interesting area of a city and start walking. We sometimes stumble upon an odd looking building or a fun little bookstore. By wandering, we get a sense of space — the sounds, smells, and terrain. Once we feel a little lost, we take a look at a map. A map is one of the keys to healthy wandering, not necessarily to tell us our exact route, but to give us an idea of where we are and where we could be. 

It can also be helpful to do a little wandering during grad school, when it comes to your own professional development. At any one time, the UC Berkeley campus provides a plethora of opportunities to explore within and outside of your field of study. What you need to orient yourself in this wandering is a map. 

This fall, GradPro, in partnership with the Career Center, developed the concept of “Grad Mapping” to help orient grad students in their journey through grad school and beyond. The Grad Map has five major regions that grad students can “visit”:

  • Self-Reflection Shore: Here you’re encouraged to look inward, considering your personal and professional values, interests, and skills. You can do this through self-assessments, retreats, and honest dialogue with people who know you.
  • Futuretopia: It can be productive to imagine multiple possible future versions of yourself, both personal and professional. Sometimes your imaginations are based on what you discovered about yourself at the Self Reflection Shore. But it could also come from connections and discussions you have in the next region, Community Cove. 
  • Community Cove: Connecting with other folks who have similar goals, interests, and challenges is an important way to find support along your professional journey. You can do this through writing accountability groups, LinkedIn networks, clubs, and GradPro check-in groups.
  • Exploration Estuary: Estuaries are rich ecosystems with varying conditions. Similarly, career paths can be unpredictable and diverse. You can explore multiple fields or job families before committing to any one direction — for instance, through internships, site visits, informational interviews, and hands-on workshops.
  • Planning Peaks: Once you’ve considered your short-term and long-term goals, it can be useful to write down a rough timeline for achieving those goals. It’s usually best to write your timeline backward from your destination, i.e. what you want to see by the end of a semester or by the end of grad school. But remember that the destination often changes over time, as you visit and revisit the other four regions of the Grad Map. 

As you can see, the Grad Map is iterative rather than linear. It’s a map that helps you orient yourself to where you are now, and where you could go in the future. At GradPro, we help you journey along this map through the Professional Development Guide, the Passport to Professional Development, GradPro Check-in groups during the semester, and our Grad Mapping Workshops at the beginning and end of the semester. 

Our next Grad Mapping Workshop is on Thursday, December 5th at 2:30 p.m. in 309 Sproul Hall. This workshop focuses on exploration and planning over the next five years. You’ll assess your skills, draft your alternate futures, and plot a five-year plan. (This workshop is designed to build on the content from Workshop 1, which took place in September; however, attendance at the first workshop is not required.) To register and for more information, click here.

Even if you cannot attend our various Grad Mapping programs at GradPro, I hope the Grad Map helps you take advantage of all of the professional development opportunities at Cal — and help you feel a little less lost. Happy wandering!

About the Author: Chris Hyun is a Professional Development Liaison at the Graduate Division and a Ph.D. Candidate in the Energy and Resources Group with a designated emphasis in Development Engineering.