Graduate students are encouraged to explore diverse careers beyond traditional paths often associated with their degrees, such as academia.
But exploring different career pathways is often easier said than done. How can you get started?
1. Reflect on your skills and interests
Start the process by looking inward. Reflecting on your skills and interests is a key first step to the exploration process, especially if you don’t know exactly what you want to do after graduate school.
You can get the process started by taking a comprehensive (and free) skills, interests, and values assessment on Focus2 (access code: Eagles) or by using the Career Center’s career readiness resources.
There are also graduate student-specific assessment tools. We highly recommend ImaginePhD (for all graduate students, regardless of degree) and myIDP (for STEM graduate students), both of which are free, comprehensive, and map your skills and interests to potential career paths.
Tip: Download the Career Development Plan to organize and reflect on your assessment results.
Graduate students are great researchers. It’s a crucial part of any graduate experience. Here are some tips for transitioning your research into career exploration.
Graduate academic departments will keep lists of where department alums have gone after they have completed their studies. These can be useful, but they often only point to traditional paths.
You can use Eagle Exchange to search by your graduate program to see the types of pathways alums have taken. In “Explore the Community,” click on “More Filters” and then filter by “preferred school.”
For example: a search using the School of Theology as the preferred school turned up alums working in law, corporate finance, information technology, engineering, and consulting, in addition to the traditional paths in academia, higher education administration, and ministry. Who can you find from your school?
To explore careers specifically, we recommend accessing the career guides on Firsthand (click “Getting Started” and create a free account with her BC email address). On Firsthand, you can access career guides across a range of industries to learn more about job types, salaries, training, desired skills, and more.
After you’ve done some research, networking is a crucial next step in the exploration process. It’s one of the single most powerful tools you have in your exploration arsenal.
Use resources like Eagle Exchange and LinkedIn to connect with alums or professionals in fields you’re interested in exploring. Folks who you reach out to can have a graduate educational background like yourself, but they don’t have to. Remember, expertise is everywhere.
The point of networking is to have an exploratory career conversation (also known as an informational interview) in which you gather information about a career path, learn about the types of jobs and pathways that exist, and develop connections with industry professionals.
It’s also low stakes! You only have things to gain by reaching out for a conversation.
Tip: Visit the Career Center’s networking page for tips and how-to’s on drafting an outreach message, thinking about which questions to ask, and following up.
4. Use the Career Center
Always remember that the Career Center is for graduate students, too. Make sure you’re up and running our main platforms, like Handshake. Schedule appointments with a career coach. Use our resources to explore and work on materials like resumes and cover letters.
All our coaches went to graduate school, too. So we understand what it can be like to explore a career path while working towards a degree. And we want to help you achieve your goals!