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Life after grad studies: Next steps?

Whether you are a master’s student about to enter the job market or a Ph.D. candidate thinking of paths outside the professoriate, graduation can be a time of great satisfaction and great concern. A common observation among most career strategists is that many grad students seldom think about life after graduation until their studies end. Grad students should consider the future of their professional portfolio in the present. However, it is never too late to think about life after graduation and strategize for a smooth transition even if you do not. Furthermore, here are some steady steps to take laid out in this article! 

1. If you have not planned, start immediately 

It is important to note that panic and stress undermine decision-making and act as a barrier to your next steps. Overcoming this entails taking ownership of what is in your hands: your life. Planning now will require serious self-reflection and taking advantage of resources all around you, especially at school. It may also help to contact your school’s academic or career advisors for more input. 

2. Utilize all your experience  

Knowing how to articulate your qualifications and what you can professionally bring to the table speaks volumes about how equipped you are for success. Write out all the work or volunteer jobs you have done in your time as a grad student and even before. Then carefully craft at least four resumes and cover letters to suit specific industries you are interested in.  

Note that simply including your duties in each role is good, but what is even more remarkable is using exciting keywords that appeal to employers and the tools they typically use to scan applications. Try words like “oversaw,” “managed,” and “provided” to seem more like you were a leader in your role. Not only will you impress employers, but you will improve your confidence in yourself. It is also a great opportunity to self-reflect and avoids imposter syndrome (Something that plagues many grad students).  

3. Use all resources on your belt 

Always have people around you to emotionally support you. But besides that, family and friends may know of countless opportunities to approach. All you must do is ask. Utilizing school resources like your school career and academic advisors, networking events, and even asking professors will take you a long way. Together, these pursuits can drive you to achieve your long-term career goals as a seasoned professional.  

4. Use your research skills 

If you are a grad student, it is practically ingrained in you to be a seasoned researcher by now. Moreover, career exploration is that much easier for you. Sourcing information now to aid your search has never been smoother. Resources like LinkedIn present a great way to network. Optimize those networks for possible informational coffees, and job opportunities, develop relationships with employers to ask more personal questions about their companies, etc. 

It is ultimately a great spot to access the hidden job markets and talk to people right in the middle of it. However, while researching and chasing that lucky referral, keep in mind what innovative skills you can bring to the table and which companies attract you the most.  

5. What does your future look like? 

The present often determines the future. What are some urgent changes you need to get done? Do you have loans to pay off or a financial plan to get started? Do you have a house to buy or rent to take care of? Realizing that current expenses need to be dealt with does not mean indefinitely pushing aside your long-term career goals. It may help to have a side job to handle your current expenses while applying for your dream jobs and taking advantage of all opportunities. A side job could turn into something much more profound than you imagined and lead you even closer to your ideal career.  

The Graduate Student Society (GSS) is run by and for the 10,000 graduate students at UBC Vancouver. We promote and protect our members’ academic, social and cultural interests.

Thea Koerner House, the home of the Society, has been the centre of graduate student life on campus since it was opened in 1962.


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