Identify Your Career Goals

As you pursue your first year of graduate study, keep in mind that you have entered a major stage of professional career development. Your graduate education will provide you with a range of knowledge, skills and abilities that will broaden your employment opportunities.


Begin early to develop a comprehensive career plan

A major objective for every graduate student should be to become aware of the range of employment and professional opportunities that exist for individuals receiving a graduate degree. Think of your graduate education as a career step, not just a learning experience.

Just as you have an academic plan for completing your graduate degree, you need to develop a career plan that states your major professional goals, objectives, timelines for moving from step to step, and strategies for attaining success.

Take charge of your education and your career objectives! Don't count on others to provide career options. Develop an individual career plan to provide you with a flexible blueprint of your short and long-term professional, intellectual, and even personal aspirations.

Ask your research supervisor or other faculty for information about employment options available to graduates from your program

A good way to learn about career options is to find out about career outcomes for graduates from programs similar to yours. Many academic professional societies maintain information about the types of career opportunities available for graduates in that area. Your research supervisor or other program faculty may be able to assist you in locating this information.

Be aware that your classmates have similar questions about job opportunities. Talk to them about their plans. Determine whether your ultimate goal in graduate study is to develop specialized skills for a single career path, or to develop a broad skill set that can qualify you for any number of career paths.

Determine whether your graduate program has gathered information from graduates about professional employment obtained after graduation

Pay attention to where others from your program are going. Talk to colleagues who are making choices that intrigue you, even if those choices appear to be divergent from your own career goals.

Ask your program's graduate advisor if there are any statistical or descriptive reports on the employment status of recent graduates.

If your program has presentations or workshops on job market issues or career development strategies for graduate students, attend and ask questions.

Use the Internet to extend your career research

The Internet can be an essential tool for extending your research into career planning, self assessment, labour market trends, job search, and various occupations.

Remember to use critical judgment when using the Internet. Be sure to use websites that are recommended by career development specialists who work closely with graduate students.

Take time to conduct an annual appraisal of your career goals as you work toward your graduate degree

The career aware graduate student recognizes that the need to take concrete steps to help maximize his or her employability both inside and outside of traditional academic employment.

Take steps to periodically evaluate your progress toward meeting your career objectives. A good time to do this is at the end of each academic year.

Ask yourself what you have enjoyed about the past year and consider career options that flow from those activities.

View the Career Research Guide for more information.