Sep 8, 2017 | Atlanta, GA
Plan for the job you want in 10 years. Vanessa Cox recalls this as being one of the best pieces of career advice she ever received from a professor.
“The professor recommended not to plan for your next job but to really think about where you want to be years down the road,” said Cox, who is earning her Ph.D. in Chemistry (see below for more of her tips for success). “Initially, I felt overwhelmed by this idea, but I took the advice seriously and started to prepare. From writing resumes and cover letters to networking at conferences, it gets easier with practice — so start early!”
The good news is that the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education and Faculty Development’s professional development arm and other units offer plenty of resources designed to help graduate students prepare.
“Consider us a one-stop-shop to help you connect to career and professional development resources at Georgia Tech,” said Jana Stone, director of the Professional Development Unit. “From online tools to the on-campus workshops, there’s something that will appeal to everyone, regardless of what career you’re most interested in.”
Read on to learn about some of the resources available to help you get career ready.
Career and Professional Development Roadmap
Offered in two versions — one for master’s students and one for Ph.D. or thesis master’s students — the online roadmap resource helps students navigate their path toward graduation and a successful career. Just head to the web page, select your degree stage (early, mid, or late), and pick a topic to explore (career, skills, or wellness — for master's students; career, teaching, research, or wellness — for Ph.D. and thesis master’s students). Get started at grad.gatech.edu/career-roadmap.
Each semester, a variety of in-person career development workshops are offered on topics including resume preparation, interview skills, and evaluating job offers. You can find a current list of sessions at career.gatech.edu/workshops. Or, if you need one-on-one assistance, you can schedule an appointment with a graduate career advisor at http://career.gatech.edu/graduate-advisors. If you’re specifically interested in an academic position, check out the preparing future faculty workshops offered by the Center for Teaching and Learning at http://www.ctl.gatech.edu/grad-students/workshops.
Graduate Communication Certificate
Looking for a way to improve your communication skills when it comes to areas such as public speaking, networking, and writing job applications? Whether you’re preparing for a career in industry, government, or academia, this program is designed for you. It’s sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies, in collaboration with the Graduate Student Government Association, the Georgia Tech Library, Communication Center, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Center for Career Discovery and Development, and is comprised of the following components:
- Core workshops on topics such as public speaking and communication ethics.
- Elective workshops to help build proficiency in specific areas, including topics such as writing your CV or resume, analyzing and presenting your research, and interviewing skills.
- Capstone experience that will require you to apply what you’ve learned and receive feedback from Tech communication specialists.
You can complete the program at your own pace and will receive a signed and dated certificate when you do. For more information, visit grad.gatech.edu/comm-cert-program.
If you’re interested in a nonacademic career after graduation, be sure to check out this resource. It’s a free, web-based resource open to all Tech students, postdocs, faculty, and staff, as well graduate student alumni who are within one year of finishing their degrees. When you login, you’ll find the following resources:
- Information on the variety of career options available to STEM and humanities Ph.D.s.
- Real resumes and cover letters that helped Ph.D.s get their first jobs away from the faculty track.
- First-person stories by Ph.D.s describing how their careers evolved after moving out of the academy, including promotions, advancement, and signature accomplishments.
- Discussion forums sharing information on a wide range of specific Ph.D.-friendly careers (provided by those in the careers), along with their answers to questions from students like you.
Find out more at grad.gatech.edu/versatilephd.
Try These 3 Tips for Success
Ready to get started on your career and professional development? Cox has the following tips for you:
- Don’t wait. Start thinking about your career options and goals several years before you’ll graduate. Go to seminars, listen to panels, collect business cards, talk to people about what they love about their job, and ask yourself if you’d love to do that, too.
- Prepare a pitch. Have a 30-second elevator speech about what you want to do for a career. If you’re more concrete, people have an easier time putting you in touch with relevant professionals in their network.
- Be prepared. Have business cards and resumes on hand, just in case. I can’t count how many people have asked me, “Do you have your resume with you right now?” You always want to be able to say “yes.”