UW Graduate School

April 2, 2015

It’s Never Too Early, or Late, to Get Started on Your Career Path

Welcome back!  We hope you made time for yourself to relax and enjoy the break. As you begin the Spring quarter, we know that many of you are thinking, “What next?!,” especially if you’re pursuing work outside of academia (note: For those of you who are interested in pursuing an academic career, we haven’t forgotten about you! Check out these resources.)  We assure you that it’s never too early—or late—to get started on planning your career path.

Here are some tips:

Research.  Conduct an online search about industries you’d like to work in.  Take a look at these resources:  Exploring Options, Versatile PhD, or Ph.D. Career Guide.  Also, take your research offline and schedule informational interviews with professionals in fields that interest you.  From these one-on-one meetings, you’ll get a more accurate picture of specific job experiences and work environments.

Identify.  Know your strengths and transferable skills.  Highlight them in application materials and interviews. Earning a graduate degree means you can do a task to completion, meet multiple deadlines, display strong written and verbal communication skills, to name but a few.  More here:  Dependable Strengths, Ph.D. Transferrable Skills, and Transferrable Skills and Qualities.

Network.  Reach out to alums, join professional organizations and social media sites, or attend a campus or niche market career fair to make connections and market yourself as a strong and employable candidate.  A UW Career Center survey found that local employers usually recruit grads through networking referrals.

Practice.  Learning how to present yourself during job interviews takes practice, and one way to build confidence, learn what to expect, and effectively respond to different types of interview questions is to do mock interviews.  As with any actual interview, be prepared for your practice session by knowing the job description well, doing research about the company that’s hiring, tailoring your cover letter and resume, and brushing up on standard interview questions.  Here’s another set of commonly asked interview questions.

We recognize this is a lot of work and you already have a full plate.  As one alum said at a recent panel, treat looking for a job as a job.  If you set aside a little time each week, you can make progress over time.  By developing these habits now, you will set yourself up for success and work that is meaningful for you.