Reflect on Your Career Path
When planning your degree you should always plan with the institutional staff/faculty associated with your degree success. For some, this will be your supervisor and others it may be an advising staff member. Either way these members are here to help you in making these decisions and helping you explore potential career possibilities.
The first thing you want to do is identify what do you want out of your graduate degree? Are pursuing an academic career or a professional career. What is the requirement for this career? These goals should influence the decision you make throughout your program. Your graduate degree is your journey. The more energy you put into your program the closer you will be towards your goals.
Don't worry if you do not have a specific career in mind yet. Many people find their careers along the way.
Ask yourselves these questions:
- What type of work do I want to be skilled at doing by the end of my program?
- What unique experiences do I want to ensure I achieve during my program?
- What are the specific opportunities my program can provide me (e.g., study abroad option, internship)?
- Is studying abroad or conducting research abroad an important experience for my program?
Plan, Adapt, Repeat
Start planning your program out, you need:
- Your program requirements
- To consult with your program handbook if your program has one
- Talk to your department/supervisor and ask are there any classes that are offered on limited years (e.g., every other year, or every three years)
- To gather any information on specific experiences you want to include in your program plan, such as, conducting a term abroad, collecting data internationally, or want to publish in a specific conference.
Take it to the Next Level
Take note of what careers you are interested in and what the skills and qualifications needed are. With some long-term goals in place, it will be easier to figure out what steps you need to take you there.
Keep track of ideas and possible short-term goals. Note any interesting courses, workshops, clubs, conferences, and other ideas that you come across and map it.
Track your accomplishments for future CVs and interviews. When you have accomplished one of your goals, this can be a great place to track all of those little details that you might forget.
I’m feeling lost! How do I get started?
Change can be tough. Many students feel confused and overwhelmed trying to figure out where to go and how to get there. The key is using this energy to take action earlier instead of letting it paralyze you. Start by breaking things into smaller steps with the year by year plan. You don’t have to figure it out all at once – just start at the beginning with a few ideas.
What about “non-academic” jobs?
Good question. With much less than 50% of graduate students ending up in academic careers (varying by discipline), it is important to consider ALL of your options.
How do I convert my CV to a resume? Or apply to non-academic jobs?
The skills you get from your grad degree are valued by employers, but your job is to make it easy for them to see what you have to offer. Start with USask's Student Employment and Career Centre.
Don't forget to:
You ARE Making Progress
Monday, you discovered that [whatever] isn't working because of [the problem]. You have worked hard to come to this point, and you have found solutions for more difficult problems before, like [that other tough thing you did]. Today, you should research how other people deal with this issue. You can start with [asking lab mate for ideas, reading articles by a specific researcher, googling, checking a textbook from a previous course, whatever]. You're doing a good job, so hang in there.