Pursue Your Graduate Advantage!
Reflect on your values, experiences, and preferences. Employers have identified leadership, problem solving, confidence, critical thinking, global awareness, communication, entrepreneurship, social responsibility, and teamwork as important skills for new hires. Think about your strengths and opportunities for growth in these areas, and ask yourself the hard questions:
- What are other critical attributes for any successful professional? What skills are specific to your field?
- How will your academic program contribute to building your professional profile?
- What do you need to do to build upon the skills you have and develop new ones?
- How can you translate your background, experience, education, and training to craft a professional identity?
In graduate programs each student charts her or his own course—working closely with faculty mentors. Your mentor will help you understand the professional norms and practices in your field and will help you define the set of skills and attributes you need to develop.
Talk with your mentor about expectations for your mentoring relationship. Remember that different mentees and mentors have different styles and strengths, and you may have multiple mentors who guide you in different ways.
Create and review a plan of study, Career Development Plan, Career Action Plan, or Individual Development Plan (IDP) with your mentor or thesis/dissertation director. Make plans to follow up on your plan and reassess. You can use an online tool, modify an existing template, or make your own.
- MyIDP---ScienceCareers Take assessments, explore career options, set goals, and collaborate with mentors.
- Imagine PhD---Career Planning Tool for Humanities & Social Sciences Take assessments, explore resources for different career paths, and develop a dynamic list of degree completion, professional, and personal goals.
*Graduate students, faculty, staff, and postdocs can apply for NPA affiliate membership by clicking here and using their UTEP email address.
Graduate School is challenging, and life can be complicated. Take care of your emotional, financial, and physical needs, and don't be afraid to get help when you need it.
- Support and Inclusion
- Student Health and Wellness Center
- Recreational Sports Department
- UTEP Counseling and Psychological Services
- Financial Aid and Employment
Get the resources and experiences you need to take your career to the next level.
- Explore grants, fellowships, and other opportunities on our External Funding page.
- Take advantage of Internal Funding to conduct research, attend conferences, and more.
- Look for an internship, practicum, community-engaged research project, or other experience in order to make connections and broaden your opportunities post-graduation.
- Attend Funding workshops to learn the ins and outs of applying for and securing funding.
Your unique skills, professional competencies, and achievements deserve to be publicized. Communicate your value by effectively sharing your work––in formal conferences and informal settings––and developing professional documents.
- Practice sharing your research.
- Craft your professional documents.
- Attend our recurrent CareerPrep workshops and/or view archived workshop materials.
- Edit your resume, CV, and cover letters at the Writing Center (walk-in or online)
- Get college-specific resume help at the Career Center.
- Use LinkedIn to create a professional online presence.
Put your skills and expertise to good use by developing and exercising leadership—what Forbes' Kevin Kruse calls "a process of social influence which maximizes efforts of others towards achievement of a goal."
- Actively participate in academic and social activities.
- Attend seminars and talks (Practice your elevator speech and networking afterward!)
- Participate in a student organization, community organization, or service opportunity related to your field.
- Participate in the CIRTL network to become an instructional leader in STEM.
- Get more leadership experience.
- Participate in the Graduate Student Assembly.
- Volunteer to serve on a committee.
- Serve as an officer, project leader, or board member.
Build your network.
- Seek out mentors who are two, five, ten, or twenty years ahead of you in your field.
- Identify your colleagues (and potential collaborators) on the campus, regional, national, and international levels.
- Have honest conversations about your career aspirations, fears, and opportunities for growth.
- Join professional associations and identify:
- Key competencies in your field;
- Venues for publication and discipline-specific networking;
- Established and evolving best practices; and
- Available resources for emerging professionals.
- More resources:
You've worked hard to get where you are–you owe it to yourself to finish your degree! Push through and complete your clinical placement, capstone, thesis, or dissertation to capitalize on your years of dedicated study.
- Stay in close communication with your advisor.
- Get help if you need it:
- Participate in the Master's Writing Retreat or Dissertation Studio.
- Follow the Graduate School's graduation process.
- Reflect (again) on your skills, experiences, and values.
- Remember that employers have identified leadership, problem solving, confidence, critical thinking, global awareness, communication, entrepreneurship, social responsibility, and teamwork as important skills for new hires.
- Identify your experiences and accomplishments that demonstrate these and other skills.
- Practice sharing an illustration of each of these skills for a potential job interview.
- Perfect your professional documents.
- Edit your documents at the Writing Center (walk-in or online).
- Get college-specific resume help at the Career Center.
- Ask a mentor for feedback on your resume and CV and help crafting cover letters.
- Professionalize your social media presence.
- Look and sound the part.
- Revise and practice your elevator speech.
- If you are applying for certain academic jobs, ask your mentor for help preparing and practicing your "job talk."
- Know your context and its norms around attire, grooming, and formality.
- Prepare your interview attire. (Students can borrow a professional outfit from the Career Closet.)
- Brainstorm likely interview questions and practice answering them. Be sure to use specific examples to highlight the abovementioned skills!
- If you are a PhD student (especially in the natural sciences) consider whether a postdoc is (or is not) right for you. The National Postdoctoral Association (NPA) provides information for and graduate students considering a postdoctoral fellowship. (First-time login here.)
- Use LexisNexis to research potential employers. (Its company search includes company profiles, directories, and industry overviews.)
- Consider working as a public servant.
- Consider international opportunities.
- Explore jobs in North American higher education.
- Other Resources:
- Tell your colleagues (and your social media networks) that you're on the job market.
- Most professional organizations have a job site or listserve. Make sure you're in the loop.
- Ask your mentors and colleagues about opportunities.
- Use seminars, events, and conferences as opportunities to search for job openings and promote yourself.
- Send follow-up emails and thank you cards to folks who refer, help, or interview you.