The career research you have done during the exploration stage should have helped you home in on a career of greatest interest to you. You may have started with an interest in career A and confirmed its fit through information interviews and/or engagement with alumni or employers. It’s also okay if you learned that career A was not ideal for you and switched direction, deciding to focus on B, C or D! That’s what the exploration stage is for.
Now that you have identified a career of interest, you should begin developing the relevant skills, experiences, and a professional network that can position you for a successful transition when the time comes.
As ASC graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, you are developing and refining a valuable skill set through your academic, professional, and service work. However, to be competitive for your career of interest, you may need to cultivate additional skills and/or gain relevant professional experience. Below are some recommended strategies.
- If needed, return to the Explore section where you engaged in self-assessment(s) to determine your values, interests, and skills.
- Check out this table of PhD Transferrable Skills
- Reflect on what you learned from your informational interviews. Those conversations should have surfaced the skills and experiences needed for success in your career of interest.
- What can you build upon? Where are your gaps based on the career of interest to you? Answering those questions can help you determine your next steps.
- The 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) is great opportunity to sharpen your communications skills. You’ll likely be asked to talk about your research in interviews or during networking events. The 3MT offers structure and incentive to develop those skills.
- The ASC Diversity Case Study Competition groups students together to analyze a real-life DEI-focused business case, and to develop and present a response before a panel of human resources professionals. This is open to both graduate and undergraduate students.
- The Office of Diversity and Inclusion offers various trainings and workshops.
- Michael V. Drake Institute for Teaching and Learning offers resources and trainings to support your teaching and course design skills.
- Glenn College of Public Affairs offers multiple certificate programs designed specifically for graduate students, including, but not limited to the Certificate in Public and Nonprofit Leadership.
- Academic certificate programs allow you to supplement your current degree program. You are strongly encouraged to work with your academic advisor when considering additional areas of study.
- The Erdős Institute offers free bootcamps and mini-courses, along with career coaching, connections to industry and more. Participation is free for Ohio State graduate students and postdocs.
- LinkedIn Learning supports skill building in areas like leadership and management, communication, business tools, personal career management, and more. Ohio State students now have free access to LinkedIn Learning’s digital library of more than 18,000 courses.
- Coursera is a learning platform that offers both individual courses, certificate and degree programs to help learners develop industry-recognized and -valued skills.
- Experiential learning opportunities like internships, part-time positions, projects, contract and freelance-based work help you build valuable skills, gain professional experience, expand your network, and assess your interest in pursuing the work full time.
- Volunteering allows you to gain professional experience, develop skills, and expand your professional network.
- Why not create an experience that fits with your career and skill-building goals? If you are interested in gaining hands-on experience and growing your professional skills, consider approaching companies and organizations with ideas for how you might contribute to their goals. (Ideally, your networking has already connected you to people within an organization of interest – whether directly or by means of referral.)
- Fund your skill-building activities. Below are a selection of funding sources you may want to explore. Talk with your advisor about other sources of funding to support activities that would help you build relevant skills and experience for your career path of interest.
During the Explore stage, you should have established a small, but valuable professional network in your field of interest. Going forward, it is important to not only maintain and nurture that network, but also to continue growing it. You can use many of the same strategies listed in the exploration stage. Below are some additional tactics for expanding your professional network.
It is important to be mindful of how much you are leaning on one particularly professional contact. Continuing to build out your professional network will allow you to spread your attention.
- Holding 1-2 informational interviews per month is a good pace, but you should determine a schedule that is right for you.
- Be strategic about whom you target. For example, if you are interested in living and working in a particular part of the country or a specific organization, that should guide your outreach. To accomplish this, you might utilize LinkedIn to find professionals in your field living in that region.
- Informational Interviewing Guide
- Keep nurturing your most valued professional contacts – just be thoughtful about frequency.
Be open to the idea that valuable connections may come from unexpected places. That includes engaging with people in a variety of professions.
At its heart, networking is a social process that revolves around a mutually beneficial exchange of resources, information, and sometimes even opportunities. Strategy is important, but we also encourage openness to connections beyond your specific career path of interest. You never know what exciting insights (or additional connections) someone might bring to your world.
- The real strength of weak ties – an article about the research that points to weak ties offering greater advantages for job seekers.
- Your next job is one conversation away – a Ted Talk.
- How to network when you don’t have a network from Job Search the Smart Way (Episode 34).
- Are these common networking mistakes holding you back? from Job Search the Smart Way (Episode 23).