5 Back to School Tips for Graduate Students!

The start of the new school year is an exciting time and full of possibility.  Whether you are a graduate student new to Penn, or one who has been here for several years, there are many things you can do to make the most of your graduate school experience.  Many of these tips have the added bonus of helping you to further discern your post-degree professional plans!

  1. Many graduate students suffer from “imposter syndrome,” in which an individual cannot take pride in their accomplishments and instead feels that they are fraudulent in their successes. They may feel that they have mislead others about their intelligence and live in fear of being found out.  This is a very NORMAL worry for graduate students.  To avoid falling into this trap, check in with your advisor regularly and spend time with your colleagues.  Your program chose you for a good reason!
  2. Connect with others outside of your academic discipline. Graduate students are very busy and it is very easy to surround yourselves with others who are focused on the same area.  Penn has many clubs and organizations specifically for graduate students
  3. Visit Penn’s Graduate Student Center. They have excellent programming for grad students, and provides a way to connect with students in other schools and departments.  Getting involved with people outside your immediate academic circle will widen your friendship circle, give you a breather from your research and lab work, and provide potential networking contacts.
  4. Take advantage of the tools available to graduate students interested in learning more about their career options. The Individual Development Plan (myIDP) tool from Science Careers, is an excellent resource for STEM students pursuing PhDs.  Create a free account and use it to create a personalized and strategic plan.  Imagine PhD is a similar tool for students in the humanities and social sciences and is launching this fall. 
  5. Visit Career Services early and often! Our team of career advisors work exclusively with graduate students and we can meet with you individually at any time during your time at Penn.  Whether you are certain of your career path, are looking for a “plan B,” or don’t know what you will do with your graduate degree, we can help you.  View a complete list of services for graduate students here.

We in Career Services look forward to working with you this fall and beyond!