Grad15: Introducing the Career Navigators program

In this week's Grad15, Amanda Athey and Zachary Reeves-Blurton introduced the Career Navigators program, the newest professional development initiative for graduate students from the Graduate College.

"A PhD is great training for in-demand skills -- critical thinking, qualitative and quantitative reasoning, creativity, communication," notes Athey, director of the college's Graduate Student Support Resources team.

"The world of work is big, but how we talk about it in higher education is narrow.  There are a lot of other options out there. Based on feedback from alumni and market data, we want to make sure our doctoral students are aware of these opportunities at the earliest point possible."

To that end, Athey's team has developed Career Navigators. Launching in Fall 2020, the Career Navigators program is a cohort-based career exploration and transdisciplinary competency development opportunity for doctoral students at Arizona State University. 

Cohort-based career exploration and transdisciplinary competency development

The Career Navigators program has four primary components: career panels led by alumni of ASU graduate programs; competency workshops tailored around important transferable skills; discipline-based affinity group cohorts. Using these three resources, participants create of a customized individual career development plan (ICDP).

Bimonthly career talks

Led by panels of early- and mid-career alumni of ASU graduate programs, career talks help doctoral students learn how alumni across a variety of career sectors and levels leverage transdisciplinary competencies to thrive and advance professionally. 

Though featured alumni may have had unique career pathways, it's important for participants to see alumni whose post-graduate life may parallel their own, and for the themes of these panels to reflect the most immediate concerns facing our graduate students. To that end, the inaugural career talk on July 29 will focus on lessons learned by newer professionals entering the post-graduate workforce immediately during and after the Great Recession. 

Panels consist of speakers from across a wide array of academic backgrounds and career areas (and locations) and are themed to focus on commonality. In Fall and Spring, each panel will focus on a specific career competency, the so-called soft skills or transferable skills, based on those most crucial to the career pathways our graduate students are currently pursuing: leadership, team-building, communication, and others.

Though career talks are open to the larger ASU public, participants will have additional access to panelists for advising and discussion. 

Competency workshops

In conjunction with the themed alumni panels, participants will take part in online competency workshops based around 21st-century transferable skills with an emphasis on how emerging fields, social environments, and workplace structures shape professional development needs. 

Unlike the career talks, competency workshops are open only to Career Navigator program participants. Workshops take place two weeks after their related career talk, giving participants time to reflect on career talk takeaways before developing their own practices around them.

Disciplinary affinity groups

Combining group mentorship and an affinity-building cohort model, Career Navigators places applicants into disciplinary-family groups: the natural and life sciences, humanities and the arts, social sciences, STEMM, and professional programs. 

Groups are intentionally small, with no more than twelve participants per group, to foster group cohesion and promote in-depth discussion, and meet on a monthly basis. They are also a place for participants to check-in and discuss progress on their Individual Career Development Plans.

Individual career development plan 

A central focus of Career Navigators is the development of a personalized Individual Career Development Plan (ICDP). Participants will use discipline-appropriate competency tracking tools and self-assessments in platforms such as myIDP and ImaginePhD to inventory and assess their current transferable skills. 

Simultaneously, using the resources of the Career Navigators program in partnership with Beyond the Professoriate, students will refine their own post-study short- mid- and long-term career goals and identify ways to hone these competencies to help them achieve these goals.  In creating and refining an ICDP, participants will have both a better understanding of their core competencies and a roadmap to their further development as applicable to their broad career pathways. 

Application process  

Once admitted to Career Navigators, doctoral students must be able to commit to attendance to all career talks, workshops, and group meetings.  

For doctoral students interested in applying to the Career Navigators program, more information will be coming soon. The Career Navigators webpage, under development and launching this summer, will include the Career Navigator application portal. Applications will be accepted between July 30 and September 4. If admitted to the 2020-2021 cohort, students will be notified by mid-September. Although Career Navigators is currently only open to doctoral students, future cohorts will be open to a broader graduate student community.

If you missed this session

If you want to learn more about Career Navigators, register to join us for a repeat of this information session on Tuesday, July 28 at 11 a.m.


To download the slide deck or view the recording of this session, join the GradConnect resource board on Canvas.