While in graduate school, most students avoid questions about what they will do after grad school. Instead of planning for their professional futures after grad school, many graduate students bury themselves in their studies and put off worrying about employment until they absolutely must. A lot of graduate students naively think that they will easily find and secure tenure-track positions in academia after graduation. When they finally realize that finding jobs in academia is not as simple as they had hoped it would be, many graduate students often become so stalled by decisions, directions, distractions, and questions in their career searches that they abandon their career searches and turn instead to menial employment, such as retail work or food service. Graduate students can avoid this stressful fate by networking and seeking out career advice before they graduate and by being confident in themselves and their abilities.
Networking and Seeking Career Advice
During the school year, everyone in academia is so busy with the immediate, pressing needs of schoolwork that one barely has to time eat and sleep, much less to think about and plan for life after grad school. Because of the hecticness of academia, most graduate students do not receive much career advice for their professional lives after graduation unless they seek it out on their own. Therefore, it is crucial that graduate students begin networking in academia and making use of career resources while they are still in graduate school. Graduate students should visit their universities’ career centers and should attend job fairs whenever possible. To increase their chances of getting a job after grad school, graduate students must improve their active listening skills, which will benefit them not only after graduation but also while they are still in school. Graduate students can also increase their career potential by asking to shadow professional mentors in their chosen career fields.
Many graduate students become very discouraged and somewhat frightened when they think about careers after grad school. However, allowing discouragement and fear to take control can be disastrous to successful career searches. Students should be confident about their skills if they want to acquire and maintain successful careers. Students should not feel ashamed if they can’t find jobs as easily or as quickly as they expected to, and they should not feel like they have failed if they change their initial plans after graduation. Students should be flexible and adaptable in their career searches and should learn to frame themselves and their skills in the best way possible.