Take the First Step
Preparing for a job after graduate school begins on the first day of your graduate program. This may seem surprising at first, but searching for a job that is fulfilling, challenging, and fitting for you requires a wholehearted investment of time and effort.
Utilize this page to take your initial steps and maximize your opportunities as a current graduate student.
Begin Your Journey
Active engagement in career planning is important for you to find a job which aligns with your skills and goals. Review this section for information on determining what positions best suit you, how to prepare for them, and what to do next.
When preparing for post-graduate-school opportunities, there are five steps to take in order to ensure you find the most suitable position for yourself:
- Assess your needs, interests, and goals in order to understand what an ideal position entails for you. Start by identifying your skills, interests, personality, and values through taking career assessments or making an appointment with a counselor/students.
- Explore your options by researching companies and positions. Dedicate time to searching on Handshake or other targeted sites for opportunities that interest you. We suggest you save job ads that interest you in order to identify personal trends and keywords.
- Utilize career exploration and planning resources such as ImaginePhD (Humanities/Social Science fields), MyIDP (STEM fields), or ChemIDP (Chemistry) to explore jobs and career paths that match with your interests, skills, and values.
- Consider how other graduate students have applied their degrees. Visit VersatilePhD and LinkedIn Alumni to learn about career paths which those with education backgrounds similar to yours have pursued.
- Develop your strategy by making long-term and short-term goals. These can regard where you want to gain opportunities, develop skills, and how you want to achieve your career goals. To get started, complete the Individual Development Plan.
Additionally, be bold! Make professional connections by asking questions to your friends, family, professional networks, and other colleagues. Invest time to develop a realistic understanding of the daily entailments of the positions that interest you. If you make a connection with someone in a career field of interest, ask if you can conduct an informational interview with them, as these are an excellent way to understand the requirements and the skill sets that these positions involve.
While you are on campus, it is important that you develop hands-on skills that are applicable to the career you hope to attain post-graduation. This can be through campus activities, professional associations, research, internships, and more. Experiences beyond your graduate education will help you solidify your long-term career goals and enhance your resume and CV, as the most competitive applicants are well-rounded.
Here are some opportunities for you to enhance your experiences:
- Attend the Graduate Career Mixer to meet with employers who are recruiting graduate students and postdocs.
- Come to the annual Beyond Academia Career Conference. This is a career exploration conference for graduate students and postdocs interested in work beyond the academy.
- Visit workshops hosted by the GSRC to learn about landing academic and community college jobs.
If you are interested in finding an internship in your field, explore our Internships page for more information. Additionally, read about the Graduate Student Internship Fellowship and other ways Grad Students can obtain funding.
While you search for a position, make sure that you thoroughly prepare your materials and yourself; now is the time to hone in on the skills you have been developing. To understand how to stand out in your documents, review our Get Hired section. If there’s time, have your documents reviewed by a career peer or counselor in order to enhance them. Also practice interviewing. It is beneficial to understand your personal strengths and strategize how you wish to present them; the more you prepare, the more it will show in your interview.
As you apply these steps repeatedly throughout the journey, reassess your goals and make sure they still align with where you are heading. Identify areas in which you need to gain more advanced skills or experience and consider meeting with a counselor to receive feedback on your plans.