Professional Development

At UBC, professional development for graduate students is a key priority to ensure the success of our graduates. It is a shared responsibility of a number of offices and academic units and includes a variety of workshops, services and resources.

Key initiatives and areas of support related to professional development

Below are initiatives that Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has been leading to promote professional development.

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Recruitment & Program Choice

Success in graduate school starts with students applying to a program that will meet their future career goals. To help prospective students make such a decision G+PS provides numerous resources, including:

  • profiles of alumni that include tips for success, advice for careers and much more;
  • career outcome data (currently only for PhD programs) that provides quantitative data on sectors, job titles, employers etc. of past graduates;
  • statistical information such as times to completion and completion rates.

Yearlong Orientation

While Graduate Student Orientations take place each year in January and in August/September, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies views the first year as a crucial period of transition into graduate school. To support students during that time, G+PS offers a range of programs, which includes pre-arrivals webinars with information on housing, neighbourhoods, getting around town, as well as event series like PhD Connections to help new students build social networks with peers outside their own departments and learn about essential campus support resources.

PhD Connections is a lunch series hosted by Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at St. John’s College. Senior PhD students from various programs and the Graduate Student Society as well as staff from the Centre for Student Involvement & Careers, Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology, Health Promotion and Education, the Research Commons, the Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication, and International Student Development are invited. Special guests such as Graduate Advisors, Associate Deans, and the VP Students are often included. This informal gathering happens four times per year and provides an opportunity for 1st year PhD students to connect with senior graduate students and key staff with the goal of helping them to thrive in their PhD at UBC. Each lunch is themed and begins with a brief presentation followed by conversation. Topics include welcome and sharing of ideas for getting off to a good start in your program at UBC, how you can find or build community, and get involved with opportunities, on campus, how to strategize for success in graduate school, and how to build an effective relationship with your supervisor.

Candidacy to completion

In 2017 G+PS introduced Candidacy to Completion. These sessions target PhD students who have recently reached candidacy and provide a forum to connect with other PhDs at a similar stage, to be reminded of essential UBC resources and opportunities, and to encourage students to strategize for successful and timely completion of their program.

The Graduate Game Plan

This online guide provides students with an overview of a graduate student program from admissions, through the primary stages of their graduate education, to graduation, and planning beyond graduate school. It provides advice for attaining academic and career success.

Graduate Pathways to Success

The Graduate Pathways to Success program is a palette of non-credit workshops, seminars and other activities designed to complement a student’s graduate program's academic curriculum and mentorship experience. Our offerings cover a wide range of personal and professional development topics to support students throughout their time in graduate school and to allow them to develop some of the skills and competencies needed to thrive as professionals and to make meaningful contributions to society.

Three Minute Thesis

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that assists current graduate students with fostering effective presentation and communication skills. Participants have three minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research project to a non-specialist audience. Taking place in February and March annually, this competition welcomes the public to attend and learn about UBC graduate student research. Similarly, since 2017 graduate student theses and dissertations have included a lay summary to help broaden the reach and accessibility of their research.

Experiential learning

G+PS strives to promote and support the creation of experiential learning opportunities that are relevant to the degree program and the learning experience. We hope to develop frameworks that will allow assessment or self-reflection on the learning outcomes and how these experiences have contributed to the program. We aim to build closer relationships with co-op offices and organizations like Mitacs to ensure that our graduate students may get experience in employment settings early in their career.

Employer engagement

The ability to interact with potential employers in formal and informal settings can play an integral part in career success. In fact, anecdotal evidence as well as many of our alumni profiles indicate that chance opportunities, such as networking events, fireside talks or similar, can lead to exciting possibilities that students may otherwise not have actively pursued. For that reason, G+PS intends to develop closer relationships with colleagues who organize employer events as well as integrate employer representatives (sometimes in the form of alumni) in our events.