UI opens the door to graduate success
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Among its services, UI Grad Success offers professional development like this Graduate Research Fellowship Workshop, held last September. Photo courtesy of the UI Graduate College.
University of Iowa graduate students spend years in classrooms and laboratories collaborating with cohorts and engaging with professors. They work assiduously towards a degree, and for some, a distinct and available career.
But for many, employment is dependent upon a shifting economy. And for students and universities across the country, that has meant opening the door to broader career considerations and more strategic resource divisions.
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In response, the UI Graduate College recently launched UI Grad Success Services. The office, located in Gilmore Hall, provides students with the tools they need to start planning a career, finance their goals, succeed academically, and find an effective work-life balance.
“Our office really encourages people to think about success in a broader way,” says Associate Director for UI Grad Success Jennifer Teitle.
That can mean building professional networks while still typing—or even formulating—a thesis, expanding job searches to include positions outside academia, or adjusting career aspirations to better align with individual skill sets and passions.
The subtle and not so subtle shifts in focus accompany what has long been apparent for many in higher education. “There has been a real change in job placement for students with advanced degrees. Opportunities are declining for traditional careers in tenure-track faculty positions,” says Graduate College Associate Dean Daniel Berkowitz.
However, Berkowitz emphasizes that well-prepared graduate students needn’t be unnerved. “Savvy doctoral candidates are learning how to understand their skills and abilities gained through graduate study and channel them into rewarding new career paths,” he says.
Like others at the UI, Berkowitz recognizes that placement is only one part of a larger effort to enhance program completion rates and equip students for a host of job and life goals. To that end, UI Grad Success offers hour-long appointments with staff who provide tailored assistance that includes:
- Connections to on-campus resources—including The Writing Center and The Center for Teaching, that respectively provide dissertation assistance and guidance for TAs, among other services
- Advising sessions to explore a range of career options, including jobs within and beyond academia
- Help accessing and searching databases for fellowships, grants, jobs, and more
- Assistance developing a professional online presence through sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter
- A comprehensive review of CVs, resumes, grant proposals, job applications, and other materials
Since its inception in October 2013, the office has aided close to 300 students through personalized appointments, presentations, and workshops. Teitle hopes that number will only continue to rise.
“Traditionally, students thought of advisors as the only resource for job placement. That is no longer the case. We offer complementary assistance, and nondiscipline specific help,” she says.
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But more than encouraging the UI’s pool of roughly 5,000 graduate students to seek guidance from multiple sources, Teitle emphasizes building a relationship with UI Grad Success early into a degree program. “Coming to us can help people develop a strong network inside and outside of academia. As they grow, their network has time to grow with them,” she explains.
For doctoral chemistry candidate Anthony Lucio, paying a visit to Teitle in his first semester gave him a boost to continue his studies as planned. Without a research advisor for several months, he needed fast help selecting and completing funding applications. Teitle was able to step in and provide the support he desired.
“As a chemist, my communication skills aren’t that fine tuned,” Lucio explains. “I greatly benefited from her input. There’s no way I would have made it without her.”
For Alia Gant, a master’s candidate in International Studies, UI Grad Success was the key to obtaining external funding that allowed her to study abroad in Portugal and perform independent thesis work.
“I want to see what I can do in my field,” she explains. “Having funding allowed me to gain experience and discover what the world has to offer so I can find the best career for me.”