Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

A University of Maryland Graduate School Program Prepares Doctoral Students for Life outside of Academia

Magazine article The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

A University of Maryland Graduate School Program Prepares Doctoral Students for Life outside of Academia

Article excerpt

Recognizing that 50 percent of Ph.D. graduates are finding work outside of academia, the University of Maryland Graduate School (UMD) is training its doctoral students to expand their job horizons. Launched in March 2016, the professional development program prepares students for careers outside of colleges via targeted workshops, career fairs, panels and online sendees.

Professional development includes such activities as day long events with targeted workshops and mini-conferences that encourage career success. But many of these workshops revolve around how students can manage their career, navigate their online presence and tap networking tools such as Linkedln.

For example, career workshops included: "How to Manage Your Professional and Career Development," "Job Search Techniques in Industry, Nonprofit and Government," "Career Fair Preparation" and "Writing an Effective Resume." The program trains students to be adaptive by using the skills learned in academia and transferring them into different industries or non-profit groups.

Dr. Susan C. Martin, the program director for career and professional development at the University of Maryland Graduate School, said, "This is a national issue. The University of Maryland is responding to that need. Many students want and are interested in careers outside of academia, and many of them are unsure of how to manage their own career." In fact, Charles Caramello, dean of the University of Maryland Graduate School, has stated that "Graduates from a variety of fields are going into professions other than the academy as their first choice."

Job opportunities are increasingly limited in academia as budgets are cut. But Martin pointed out these graduate students often go through a career transition during their advanced studies. "As they progress in their studies, they may be exposed to other opportunities that attract them," she said. Furthermore, the job market is in constant flux. But many of the skills that post-graduate students master in research, analytical thinking and data skills are "transferrable," she noted.

These transferrable skills cover an ability to conduct extensive research, synthesize a large amount of information and demonstrate teamwork skills that easily blend into project management at a variety of businesses. Most graduate students often overlook that the skills they're mastering-writing dissertations, thinking critically, educating others as teaching assistants- resonate in the business world. "They don't realize the depth and experience they have," Martin observed.

Making the adjustments into business and non-profit careers happens naturally for many doctoral students. Ph.D. students, Martin said, "are able to understand and apply new information quickly."

Much of what Martin does is provide a roadmap for managing their careers. She also encourages "informational interviewing," and tapping their network of alumni, acquaintances and Linkedln colleagues, to elicit information about how industries work, what jobs they're looking to fill, how their skills apply and what gaps exist.

Martin compiled a list of competencies regarding informational interviewing that includes: 1) Know yourself, 2) Identify the specific job you're pursuing, 3) Keep up with industry trends, 4) Tap your professional network, 5) Manage an online presence. For example, she cites a history major that landed a communications job with a defense contractor.

Moreover, the UMD program uses online tools such as Versatile Ph. …

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