Professional Development and Events

Plan C: Career planning during a pandemic

career planning pandemic COVID-19
Posted on May 13, 2020

Let’s face it. We’re all living in an anomaly. This is a singular time to be approaching the job market or thinking about next steps in your career. Doctoral students tend to think of their career path as linear — get into a grad program, write your dissertation, get a postdoc position or faculty position. In reality, most graduates find that their pursuit of a satisfying career takes many different trajectories and some inevitable stops and starts. The economic situation resulting from the global response to the pandemic COVID-19 requires an ability to see this reality more clearly.

While academic positions are likely to be hard to find, there are other paths that doctoral and other graduate students can pursue. In fact, graduate students have expertise that is in demand, such as critical thinking, data analysis, communication and project management.

Take some pointers from the past — the 2008 recession impacted many academic job seekers. What do they have to suggest for current doctoral students?

From a recent post in InsideHigherEd

What can you learn from this? Your career plan needs to be flexible, no matter what path you are on. An event like the one we’re experiencing now will result in shifts in career options. Some will disappear, and new ones will appear. 

From a recent article in Fast Company

...you need to have faith that you are still on track to finding a dream job.

Here are two ideas on how to align your job search and professional development pursuits to the new job market. 

  1. “Do the Experiment”

    In a recent post, Briana Konnick writes that the approach to career exploration can be compared to conducting scientific research with multiple phases, including gathering information and then running the “experiment”. In this case, the experiment may be part-time employment or internships that take the hypothetical into actual experiences from which one gains perspectives that can inform the next steps that you take in developing your career path.
  2. Use Handshake

    In Handshake you will find a ready list of such opportunities. Even if you can’t work off-campus there are other opportunities through serving in on-campus organizations, department committees, conference committees or even volunteering to run a running group, soccer league or hobby of your choice. The point is to experiment with experiences to discover what you like (or don’t like) enough to help you plan your future career path. Each experience helps you build momentum that will carry you forward.