Home / All News / Exploring Graduate Student Academic Career Pathways
Graduate College and Career and Professional Development Services are partnering to provide exposure to academic career pathways.

Exploring Graduate Student Academic Career Pathways

The Graduate College and ASU Career and Professional Development Services (CPDS) are working together to ensure professional development is provided to our growing number of graduate students. Graduate students have diverse and specific professional development and career preparatory needs, and the Graduate College’s Student Support Resources team and CPDS are partnering to bring greater accessibility and exposure to academic career pathways for graduate students.

“Securing academic positions is becoming increasingly competitive,” said Zachary Reeves-Blurton, program manager for mentoring initiatives and professional development engagement for the Graduate College. “We have some tremendous faculty assets within the university,” Reeves-Blurton said, “it’s just a matter of bringing these resources together in a way that meets the needs of a constantly busy and on-the-go graduate student population.”

Through its Community of Scholars partnerships, the Graduate College is working with institutional partners such as CPDS to offer workshops and programming specifically tailored to the needs of graduate students. Although, the increasing number of graduate students and specialization of graduate programs can make reaching all graduate students problematic.

“Over the past few years, we’ve noticed a decline in attendance at traditional in-person career preparation sessions,” notes Jacquelyn Heidegger, CPDS liaison to the Graduate College. “This is particularly the case with graduate students whose schedules often make it harder to attend in-person workshops and sessions.”

Heidegger believes a potential solution is to harness the resources of ASU’s graduate faculty in a way that is more accessible to graduate students.

On November 8, an afternoon-long graduate student professional development and career exploration event offered traditional career-preparation sessions on interview skills, salary negotiation, and CV and resume writing. Interspersed with these skill-builder sessions were interactive sessions on creating digital portfolios, an electronic collection of reflective learning, which enhances critical thinking and demonstrated professionalism, as well as online career exploration and networking resources.

One such resource ASU subscribes to is Versatile PhD, an on-line resource and community of individuals that are working towards a PhD or hold a PhD and work in a non-academic setting provides graduate students with the opportunity to explore diverse career options outside academia in both the STEM and Humanities. Students have access to a number of helpful content areas including career autobiographies, hiring success stories, and archived panel discussions.  

“The Versatile PhD program really is an extremely valuable resource and provides a safe, confidential platform for graduate students to research diverse career paths,” notes Jennifer Rhodes, program manager for knowledge mobilization initiatives within the Graduate College. “It’s a fantastic tool for networking with others who have explored similar options and provides examples of actual application materials from those who have landed positions of interest. I encourage all PhD students who are interested in expanding their career options to create an account and start exploring today!” 

The collaborative work between the Graduate College and CPDS on professional development and career exploration programming also included several sessions specifically tailored to address graduate students looking toward academic careers. One panel, comprised of current doctoral students from a range of disciplines, spoke of their aspirations, experiences and the considerations that went into their doctoral careers. Another panel brought together new tenure-track faculty and faculty with extensive hiring and departmental administrative experience to talk about academic career entry, the importance of mentoring, and the tenure process.

“These are valuable topics that really advance graduate student career perspectives and offer insight into processes that can be daunting,” Reeves-Blurton explains. “That’s why it is really important for us to get faculty in front of as many graduate students as possible.”

For the spring, in addition to offering similar programming during Grad Week, CPDS and the Graduate College will begin transitioning this programming into online formats in search of wider audiences, including videos, live-streams, and interactive live chats that students may engage with from their own homes or work spaces.

“It’s a great partnership with a lot of potential synergies,” says Heidegger of the Graduate College/CPDS partnership. “Career and Professional Development Services has the best practices and technical know-how on the career engagement side, while the Graduate College is able to help tap into the more specialized programming needs to reach our graduate students.”

The two teams will to begin assembling these new professional development modules in January, with content available on the CPDS website and the Graduate College’s Graduate College Mentoring Network (GCMN) homepage shortly thereafter. More information on Grad Week (March 19-22) will be available on the GCMN and Graduate and Professional Student Association calendar in the coming month.