UMD Graduate School Launches New Professional Development Programs
With roughly 50% of PhD graduates entering sectors of the economy other than higher education, the need for professional development opportunities for doctoral students, beyond coursework and research, has never been more critical. The Graduate School has launched its professional development programs with an initiative this spring to help doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers prepare for “multiple career paths”—the wide range of careers open to PhD graduates.
“We used to talk about alternative careers, as a solution for graduates in fields with scarce numbers of tenure-track academic positions,” says Dr. Charles Caramello, Dean of the Graduate School. “But, now we recognize that graduates from a variety of fields are going into professions other than the academy as their first choice. Preparing doctoral students for the multiple career paths open to them is critical for their long-term success.”
Taking a broad perspective applicable to many disciplines, the Graduate School’s programs will supplement and complement the more discipline-specific initiatives offered in departments and colleges across campus. This spring, the Graduate School’s program on multiple career paths, One Degree, Many Options: Multiple Career Paths for Doctoral Students, addressed how skills and expertise developed in doctoral studies can be applied in research, scholarship, and leadership positions in the public sphere (government and nonprofit), private industry, and higher education.
The program opened with a forum covering opportunities for doctoral students in those sectors. It featured three national leaders and experts: Dr. Alan Leshner, CEO Emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Dr. Alex Triantis, Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business; and Dr. Maureen Grasso, Dean of the Graduate School of North Carolina State University and member of the national commission on Pathways Through Graduate School and Into Careers organized by the Council of Graduate Schools in collaboration with Educational Testing Services. The forum was followed by a series of three dedicated workshops, one on each sector.
The Graduate School is adding to its capacity to provide professional development opportunities for doctoral students in other ways as well. In collaboration with the University Career Center, the Graduate School has begun a search for a full-time program director to develop programming and resources for professional development for graduate students. The Graduate School also has joined the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC). With membership in the GCC, Graduate School staff will gain access to important resources on best practices for providing professional development opportunities. Membership in the GCC is restricted to R1 universities, making it uniquely poised to address the needs of doctoral students.
Since 2015, the Graduate School has subscribed to Versatile PhD, an online service that provides students with interactive tools to explore career options, including online discussions with professionals who successfully leveraged their PhD into a profession outside of academia, examples of successful cover letters and resumes, and more.
“Graduate education provides skills and expertise that are highly sought after by employers in all sectors of the economy,” says Dean Caramello. “Providing students with the resources they need to explore all of their options helps them lay the foundation for a successful, productive career, no matter what path they choose.”