Graduate Students and Alumni Can Help Shape Education and Career PathsBy Julio Cachila, UniversityHerald Reporter
While institutions work at bringing a better graduate education for students, graduate students and alumni should realize that they also play a key role in shaping graduate education and future career paths. After all, with the evolving career interests that students have, it would be best for them to speak up and work with institutions to forge new paths to learning and succeeding.
To help graduate students and alumni do that, here's what Amy Pszczolkowski, an assistant dean for professional development in the Office of the Dean of the Graduate School at Princeton University, wrote in an article on Inside Higher Ed.
'Help create a next-generation graduate student network'
Pszczolkowski shared the experience of one graduate student who already made plans about her graduate education and eventual career path. While the student was excited at the excitement shown by faculty she talked to, she felt resistance from fellow students who haven't thought of their own career paths.
Thankfully, she was able to gain the help of a supportive professor, and eventually found peers who were supportive and helpful.
The student's story gives an idea of the necessity of creating a supportive network of graduate students and faculty.
'Talk to your adviser, department colleagues and university stakeholders'
"Graduate students are often concerned about sharing their ideas around new forms of scholarship or broader career interests with their advisers, departments and fellow students," said Pszczolkowski. "[H]owever, departments need to hear from you to better understand the career development needs of current students in a changing academic job market."
She advises sharing ideas to the director of graduate studies in one's department, or to graduate school deans. Talking to colleagues, and making efforts to encourage conversation about ideas will also help.
David A. McDonald, an assistant director of graduate services at the Duke University Career Center, advises having multiple career mentors because no single mentor can guide a person in all steps required for a career.
'Tell us what you are doing'
"Whether you are a current graduate student, recent alum or someone who completed your Ph.D. 15 years ago, you can be part of the solution by sharing with your institution -- or graduate department -- where you currently work," Pszczolkowski explains.
You can help collect students' interests and career choices, and spread this information to faculty members, trustees, alumni, current and future graduate students. This will greatly help the students to prepare for the careers they will soon pursue, the alumni to advance in their careers, and the faculty prepare for and help students and alumni achieve better careers, even outside the academe.