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Graduate Student Career Development and Fostering Graduate Student-Alumni Connections

Graduate Student Career Development and Fostering Graduate Student-Alumni Connections

News Article By Dan Curran, PhD Graduate Student and Sustainability Officer of the River Campus Graduate Student Association

            A major incentive for students to pursue post-secondary education is career development.  While departments do a good job of preparing students to pursue a career directly in their field of study, the reality of the current academic landscape is that most students who want to stay in academia will not be able to. Finding jobs in industry or following a non-linear career path is dependent on having a diversified network and a suite of soft-skills. These realities are applicable to graduate students in all fields of study, so it is the University’s responsibility to provide graduate students the opportunity to develop them. From my and others’ experiences, there is a seeming lack of commitment on an institutional level from the River Campus towards graduate student career development when compared to that of undergraduate student career development.

Embrace Uncertainty

Embrace Uncertainty

News Article by Dillon Schrock, PhD

The journey through graduate school is full of difficult lessons and uncomfortable realizations. One of the most challenging aspects to face is the inherent uncertainty of science. Upon entering a graduate program, new students often come to realize just how little they know of their chosen field, seeing our mentors and surrounding faculty as consummate experts. An important step in maturing as a scientist is to realize that those same experts deal intimately with their own uncertainties all the time. Tolerating and even embracing this vagueness is necessary for the scientific process. Finding and testing gaps in knowledge is, after all, what science is all about. In fact, some of the most exciting times in scientific discovery come from observations that challenge what we thought we knew. This perspective on the known and unknown is a critical component of graduate education.

My Experience As A Writing Consultant

My Experience As A Writing Consultant

News Article by Janelle Veazey, PhD Candidate

A student walks into the Writing, Speaking and Argument Program waiting room. "Hi, are you here for Janelle?" I ask. She answers yes, and we walk back to a tutoring room. "So, what are we working on today?" I ask. "A draft for Writing 105. I really want to focus on clarity " she replies. I ask for the prompt and discuss the thesis and general outline of the paper before reading the essay aloud. We stop after every paragraph or two to discuss the main point of each paragraph and how it relates back to the stated thesis. Other times, I write down an outline of the current structure on scrap paper and spend 5-10 minutes discussing other possible structures. The goal is not to peer-edit, but to help the student become a better and more confident writer. And I find myself becoming a better writing through helping others develop their writing. 

Learning New Things Opens Up New Opportunities

Learning New Things Opens Up New Opportunities

Career Story by Kavita Berger, PhD, Scientist at Gryphon Scientific and previous Associate Director of The Center for Science, Technology, and Security Policy

I often have thought that I benefited from luck throughout my career. I have had fun and intellectually exciting jobs, at which I met a lot of people who work on very interesting topics. And, for so long, I thought these experiences were a result of luck. But, while speaking to a friend about this blog, she reminded me that although luck may have played a part in my career path, I was instrumental. I took the initiative to learn new things, interacted with people in all sectors, faced my fears of public speaking, and sought to collaborate rather than compete. According to my friend, these traits opened new opportunities for me and led me to where I am today.

Seeking Career Options Outside The Laboratory

Seeking Career Options Outside The Laboratory

Career Story by Michael Brady, PhD, Scientist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, Wilmot Cancer Institute, and past Clinical Research Coordinator

Academic laboratory-based science can be a rewarding career with a lot of advantages – freedom to explore your own ideas, the ability to work with great minds and flexible hours. On the other hand, grant funding cycles, transitioning out of a postdoc position and job stability can be challenging. The uncertainty of what lied ahead and my desire to have more control over my career, led me to seek out career options outside of the laboratory.