Supporting Your Doctoral Students’ Career Exploration Beyond Academia

Being a faculty advisor to your doctoral students is a lot of responsibility and part of your role involves providing advice about the career options that your advisees can pursue. These conversations while difficult are increasingly important as the job market for positions in academia is more challenging due to COVID-19 related hiring freezes as well as budget cuts that may be felt for years.  Further, our DU outcomes data surveys from 2016-2019 indicate that many of our doctoral students are choosing options outside academia.

                                                                                               Note: Based on 464 doctoral students who responded to 2016-2019 surveys.

Here are suggestions that will help you to have balanced career conversations:

Talk About Options: Have conversations about your students career interests as some, especially when encouraged,  may be open to discussing their interests outside academia. Resources that can be helpful to suggest include So What Are You Going to Do With That by Basalla and Debelius and Succeeding Outside the Academy by Fruscione and Baker. Students will also find many resources on our Career & Professional Development site organized by college here.

Refer to Alumni: Keep in contact with your former students that may be working outside academia so that you can help newer students build their network. This will be a great way for students to learn from those who have chosen an alternative career path.

Suggest Meeting with a Career Advisor: Encourage your students to make an appointment with a career advisor here. We can work with your students on helping them to see how their academic skills can transfer to another setting when writing a resume/CV and also how to confidently discuss their abilities in an interview.

Suggest Upcoming Events:  Upcoming events that will be of interest to your students include a Winter Virtual Career & Internship Fair on Friday, February 5 from 1pm-4pm MT and a Mentor for a Moment: Exploring Careers in Technology and Data, February 10 from 5:30-6:30pm MT.’

Sharing and discussing these options with your students will help them to navigate an ever complex job environment. Thank you for the support that you provide to your students all the time and especially during this challenging period.

Submitted by Patty Hickman/Director Graduate Career & Professional Development

By Patty Hickman
Patty Hickman Director, Graduate Career & Professional Development