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Tips for a Productive Graduate Student Job Search

Today’s blog is written by Lakesha Cross, the College of Engineering’s Program Manager for Graduate Education.

Job searching for advanced degree students may be daunting at first. Some of the strategies that have worked in the past may not seem as fruitful in your current search. Here a few tips to help you stay motivated and productive.

Know Yourself

Be sure to identify your interests and values. Begin to think about what you want from a career and let this introspection guide your search. Research industries and organizations, and become familiar with job descriptions to understand what companies seek. Then, ask yourself which of those skills align with your experience. Use that information to create your personal brand.

Remember that as an advanced degree student, you have additional training and experience that allows you to not only contribute to a team, but also potentially lead a team. Transferable skills acquired as a Graduate Assistant, Teaching Assistant, or Lab Manager are highly sought after. Hone those skills throughout graduate school by attending professional development sessions, talking with career advisors, or participating in civic or social organizations. While your technical skills might garner the interview, soft skills can help propel you to the top of the candidate list.

Be Consistent

Advanced degree students graduate at various times throughout the year, so you may find yourself searching for a position at any point throughout the calendar year. Still, be aware of the high volume times for on-campus recruitment to increase interactions with potential employers. Make note of opportunities to connect with representatives, such as networking events, career fairs, and on-campus interviews. Set goals and checkpoints along the way by updating your documents regularly, practicing interviews, and meeting with career advisors to discuss progress.

Expand Your Network

Now that you have an idea of who you are, where you want to work, and what you have to offer—get out there! Encourage yourself to be active at professional conferences, so you can build connections in your industries of interest. Maintain communication with your colleagues and contacts. Even if those individuals are unable to hire you directly they can keep an eye out for positions, answer questions, and provide advice. Building informal mentorship relationships can also help you navigate any job search pitfalls. Consider attending the Networking Brunch sponsored by WEGC on February 5th as a step towards connecting with companies and peers. Seeking structured mentorship? The 2020-2021 Peer Mentorship Program survey through the Graduate Education Office can be found HERE.

Make your electronic presence known. LinkedIn is a great resource for researching a large network of opportunities, organizations, and people. By engaging in relevant LinkedIn groups and connecting with alumni, you could uncover the right match for your advanced skills.

Looking for more advice about the graduate student job search? Check out the PhD Job Search Guide in the Resource Library on Handshake. Visit ECS for an appointment or drop-in hours to address your specific questions.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” —Walt Disney


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