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|Published by McGill Career Planning Service (CaPS)
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Graduate Career Advisors @ CaPS
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Grad Advising & CV Drop-In
Advising and CV Drop-In for graduate students is held Tuesdays and Thursdays from 15h00-16h30 and Fridays from 10h00-11h30 and does not require an appointment, but space is limited. First come, first served.
CaPS Job Finding Club
Summer's Here... and CaPS is Open for Business!
Fall semester will be back soon enough... but CaPS is open all summer to serve grad students to help you plan your career. Check out the career workshops offered this summer.
In this issue:
Good News from McGill's Survey of PhD Grads
A PhD survey was sent out by GPS & DAUR this past Februaury to PhD's 7 years out. 609 replied. Of those, 91.8% said they were employed. Out of the 565 employed responses, 43.9% were working for a university, 13.9% in Industry/Business, 13.9% in a University affiliated hospital, medical center or research institute, 9.6% in government, 7.5% in research institutes, 2.8% in community colleges/CEGEPS, 2.3% in the not-for-profit sector and 2.1% are self-employed.
64% found their current work in 1-3 months, 13% in 3-6 months, 11% in 6months-1year and 5% in 1-2 years.
[I think this article summarizes well the career messages we work to get across to you. The comments after the article are equally interesting.] Susan Molnar
The other day a colleague and I were discussing how to best prepare graduate students for life after graduate school. On many occasions we’ve discussed the job market graduate students face and how many are unprepared. In our discussions we keep coming back to a common theme: today’s graduate students need to be entrepreneurial in their approach to their studies.
In my work with Ph.D. candidates I’ve found they can be grouped into two broad categories. Category I includes those who are focused, determined and have a clear vision of their career path. Category II holds those who are lost, confused and rudderless. Both groups are comprised of students seeking academic and non-academic positions, so the career path is not the mitigating factor. Some have very involved advisers and others have hands-off advisers, so effective mentoring is not the mitigating factor. So what accounts for the difference? I believe it has to do with the students’ ownership of their career path
[This article gives some suggestions about what universities could do to help grad students enter the work force. Luckily, McGill is already doing some of them.] Lorna MacEachern
Having completed the first year of my doctoral studies, I have been surprised by the career expectations of my student colleagues at Oxford University. While some students are being sponsored by their home government, many of us are on our own when it comes to getting a job after graduation. We know that universities in our home countries are simply not hiring. That doesn’t prevent each of us privately thinking that we will be the exception – however, we are all delusional.
The entire PhD process, from work with more junior students to publication and production of a thesis, is still geared toward the student working in a university environment. Our mentors, the PhD supervisors, work in a university environment and, more often than not, never experienced adult life in any other sector.
Ever get the impression that grad school is a little overwhelming? That there’s so much to do and so many things to learn before we graduate, like how to publish a peer-reviewed article, how to get research ethics approval, how to apply for grants and fellowships, how to secure a job when it’s all over? Traditionally, with good guidance from our mentors (read: more senior graduate students or supervisors) we’ve been expected to somehow acquire these skills along the way. But what if we don’t have reliable mentors from whom to learn these skills? What if somehow the apprenticeship model of academia, which has been relied upon for decades, does not always teach us everything we need to learn in order to become ‘high quality professionals’?
This was precisely the thinking of the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies (CAGS), the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the federal Tri-Councils when, in 2008, they developed a list of 9 key skill areas that each graduate student should master before graduation. According to them, these skills are what industry and academia are asking for in High Quality Personnel. So, McGill listened, and the result was the development of SKILLSETS.
The SKILLSETS suite of workshops was launched in September 2009 to enhance Professional Skills Development and improve the overall educational and research experience for graduate students. It is centred around the nine skill areas mentioned above: 1) Communication and interpersonal skills; 2) Critical and Creative Thinking; 3) Career Development; 4) Integrity and Ethical Conduct; 5) Teaching competence; 6) Research management and leadership; 7) Dissemination of research and knowledge translation; 8) Life skills; and 9) Societal/civic responsibilities. SKILLSETS was designed to address these nine skill areas and thus to complement academic research training at McGill. In addition, sessions were created for faculty members on different aspects of supervising graduate students. This way, not only does SKILLSETS help us become better academics and young professionals, it also helps our mentors help us.
During this inaugural year (September 2009-May 2010), 135 events will have been offered under the auspices of SKILLSETS, with a total attendance of approximately 4,500 graduate students and 25 postdoctoral fellows. These events included SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR fellowship information sessions, two ‘Learning to Teach’ days, and a series of MyResearch workshops organized by the Library. As well, 8 events on improving graduate supervision were organized or supported by the Graduate Education Officer and attended by 130 different instructors and 25 post doctoral fellows.
SKILLSETS is built upon partnerships with academic and service units, as well as with individual instructors, students, and academic administrators. Over 30 partnerships were established during this inaugural year: the list includes the Library, the First Year Office, CaPS, the Office of the VP-RIR, the Dean of Students, Communications Services and PGSS. As well, more than 34 graduate students, 98 professors and 63 academic administrators were involved in developing and co-facilitating events. This focus on joint student-faculty facilitation makes SKILLSETS unique across Canada; in other words, both students and faculty usually lead these workshops, giving attendees a dual perspective on any given issue.
Another key feature of SKILLSETS is its responsiveness to the community. One good example of this is the Basic Business Skills program, which was developed in winter 2010 by non-business students seeking to gain skills in consulting. They approached David Syncox, the Graduate Education Officer, who was more than happy to assist them with the implementation of their goal. Now, 10 sessions on business skills such as marketing and accounting have been held since February, with an ever-growing waiting list of students hoping to take the lecture series next fall. David Syncox has also met with representatives from all faculties as well as a number of departments over the past year to ask them what types of resources are needed to help graduate students’ professional development. Based on experiences from this year and information gathered from the meetings, over 46 events are currently planned for next year, with new additions joining the list every day.
Thanks to these partnerships and this year’s varied offerings, as well as Teaching and Learning Services’ dedication to continual assessment and critical reflection, the program has received quite high satisfaction from graduate students. Overall, nearly 90% of attendees were satisfied with the events offered, including a 95% satisfaction rating for the Orientation events held at the beginning of each semester. The SKILLSETS team strives to constantly improve its offerings, and will work towards continuing to develop, refine and expand offerings in its second year. Visit http://www.mcgill.ca/gps/students/events/skillsets/ for more information.
So don’t fear; if you’re not sure how to respond to a reviewer’s comments on an article you submitted to a journal, or how to give a 30 second summary of your research in an elevator, there’s a workshop for that. And in the meantime, if you have any questions or suggestions for new offerings, do not hesitate to contact SKILLSETS team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tania Jenkins has completed her Master’s degree in sociology at McGill and is the current Graduate Education Assistant for SKILLSETS. She will begin her doctoral degree in sociology at Brown University in the fall.
Here are some of the upcoming skillsets workshops:
For a full listing of skillsets workshops, click here
Registration for all of the following workshops is available through myFuture. Click on the "Workshops/Events" tab and select the "Workshops" tab.
Design: Sasha Foster-Andres