November 14th, 2014
Last night I joined a large group of fellow grad students at the first event in the Opening Doors Series organized by the School of Graduate Studies. This session was targeted at students in the social sciences and included panelists from the public, private, and non-profit sectors. Each panelist brought a unique perspective and a unique story about how they ended up in their current position.
Here are 5 key take-aways I took from the event:
1. There is not one clear, linear path from school to your dream job.
Getting to hear the varied paths from the panelists emphasized this point. Some landed their current positions by word-of-mouth referrals or by creating their own organization. It pays off take a step-back and consider alternative and creative ways you can land your dream job.
2. It’s important to dispel the myth that your academic expertise isn’t valued outside the ivory tower.
You may think your expertise is too narrow to apply to the workplace. However, your ability to master a subject shows that you have exceptional research abilities, which can be applied in a number of workplace settings.
3. Set intentions.
One piece of advice from a panelist was this: set daily, weekly, and monthly intentions: regarding academics, professionally, as well as personally. By setting big goals, you can narrow-in week-to-week and day-by-day to put those goals into action by taking smaller steps.
4. Networking comes in many shapes and sizes. Be attentive to those not-so-obvious networking opportunities.
There are so many ways you can network that don’t include big formal networking receptions or informational meetings. While those can be important too, there are smaller ways you can network and you may not even notice you’re doing it! Considering an interview your best networking opportunity stood out to me as a great piece of advice. Even if you aren’t successful in landing the position- you have potential employers right there across the table who now know you personally and all the great highlights from your professional life that would make you a great candidate for future opportunities.
5. There are many services right here on campus that are at your finger-tips.
Check out the School of Graduate Studies as well as the Career Centre to see what services are available to help you with your job search. Not sure where to start? No worries, it’s tough! There are lots of links and resources to get you started.
The first Opening Doors Panel focused on the Social Sciences and there are still three more upcoming panels on the Humanities, the Physical Sciences, and Life Sciences. For more information and to register, visit the event page.