A New and Improved PhD and Postdoc Careers Webpage!

One of the exciting projects that I was working on this past summer and early fall was revamping our webpage for PhDs and postdocs in collaboration with my colleagues. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our new Ph.D./Postdoc Careers page! This new webpage centralizes all job and career-related resources for Penn doctoral students and postdocs. It’s structured into three main sections to help you easily find the information you’re looking for.

Here’s a quick run-down of how you can use the webpage:

If you’re currently in a PhD program or postdoc and have questions about which career paths would interest you or how you should prepare for your career, check out the Making the Most of Your Ph.D./Postdoc page. It features a four-step career exploration process to guide you in identifying and preparing for careers that would be a strong fit for your interests.

Are you actively applying for academic jobs and/or jobs beyond academia? The Searching, Applying, Interviewing & Negotiating for Jobs page contains information on the entire job search process for postdoc/faculty careers as well as careers beyond academia. You can find resources on preparing your job application materials as well as preparing for job interviews and negotiations.

If you are looking to find out what Career Services can offer you, take a look at the Taking Advantage of Career Services page, which lists all of our services for doctoral students and postdocs—from one-on-one advising to workshops to digital career resources.

We hope you’ll check out our new webpage—you’ll see below some testimonials from your fellow peers on their experiences using the webpage in our focus group.

The Graduate Student and Postdoc Team at Career Services is eager to help you in all aspects of your career exploration and planning process, for jobs in academia and beyond, so make an appointment to see us!

“The breakdown of the four-step Career Exploration Process on the Making the Most of Your Ph.D./Postdoc page was helpful in clarifying what had initially seemed nebulous to me, and it allowed me to move through the steps systematically without feeling overwhelmed.” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of English

“I found the Professionalize and Gain Experience page extremely useful because it lists several concrete ways in which one can gain work experience at Penn that extends beyond academia.” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Linguistics

“I gravitated towards the Making the Most of Your PhD page. I didn’t realize there were job simulations until now, and I am definitely going to play around with that resource!” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Genomics and Computational Biology

“I was really impressed with the Career Exploration Process information. That is a really concise, concrete and useful resource.” –Ph.D. Candidate, School of Engineering & Applied Science

“The webpage’s new step by step overview of how best to use your time in grad school is an invaluable resource!” –Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations

CS Radio – Episode 70: “The CS Internet of Things”

Celebrating 70 episodes!  Special guest Helen Pho, Associate Director at Penn Career Services, joins us to talk about the major overhaul coming to the PhD and Postdoc section of our website.  While on the topic, Michael and Mylène highlight other new additions and classic hidden gems of the sometimes overwhelming CS website.  Enjoy!

Show Notes
Graduate Student landing page (Will update to new site when live)
New Digital Career Resources page

The Hub of Hope

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the 2018 Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Carolyn Ziembo, MSW ’19

This summer I was fortunate to serve as the Graduate Policy Intern in the Office of the Deputy Managing Director of Health and Human Services (HHS) for the City of Philadelphia. Over the course of the summer, I worked on a variety of projects, many of which focused on the City’s response to the current opioid crisis and associated northeast Philadelphia encampments, homeless prevention, and affordable housing. The experience provided me with a wealth of information on how the City serves vulnerable populations and responds to health crises, as well as skills in program management and memo drafting.

One of my favorite projects was supporting the Hub of Hope. The Hub of Hope is a daytime engagement center for people experiencing homelessness. It is operated by SEPTA, the City of Philadelphia, Project HOME, and Philabundance in the subconcourse adjacent to Suburban Station. At the Hub, which opened in January 2018, guests are welcome to have a warm cup of coffee, eat a meal, take a shower, wash their clothes, get medical care, and access treatment and housing. Pulling from a list I maintained of current projects and tasks, I prepped agendas for meetings at the Hub every other week with program managers from the City and nonprofits. Attending the meetings was a great way to see how municipal staff and nonprofit organizations interact and successfully run a social service program together.

In addition to Hub of Hope logistics projects throughout the summer, such as ensuring volunteers had clear protocols and instructions in accessing to the Hub, I also took part in the outreach for Meals and More, a grant program designed to bring Philadelphia volunteer meal providers to the Hub. I was involved in every aspect of the grant process, including contacting potential applicants and collecting applications, creating criteria determinants and score sheets, scheduling and attending the review panel, and ultimately giving notice to the grant winners. I enjoyed working with the meal providers, who were all thrilled to begin serving at the Hub. It was another example of the City and nonprofit organizations partnering to best serve Philadelphia’s vulnerable populations.

Beyond the Hub, I sat in on many meetings and observed firsthand how the City is responding to the opioid crisis in Philadelphia. Again, collaboration was key in the planning and implementing of various strategies and meetings were attended by people from across many City departments, as well as from nonprofits directly serving those affected by opioid use disorder. It was also encouraging to see the City regularly hold meetings with representatives from Kensington-area community groups and advocates. Additionally, I was fortunate to go on a site visit to the area hardest hit by the opioid crisis and see for myself the work that had been accomplished. I found the trip very useful; being able to visualize what was being discussed in meetings was important to understanding all aspects the topic. I think this is true for any policymaking or programming.

Although I had worked and interned in nonprofits previously, this summer’s internship was a new look for me into how City government functions. I was fortunate to meet and learn from so many knowledgeable people and am grateful for all the insight I gained.

Designing Your PhD with Pipe Cleaners, Mind Maps, and Drawings

As the academic year starts again soon for graduate students and postdocs, it can often be a hectic time especially for those who are planning to be on the academic job market, teaching their own courses, conducting research, and writing chapters of their dissertation, among other things. It seems that there is always more and more to do. Before the fall begins, however, it’s important to take a step back and reflect on the things that you’re doing and how they fit into your life overall.

This summer, my colleague and I ran a pilot interactive workshop called Designing Your PhD for around 25 graduate students with the goal of having students spend time to think about what work values are important to them, what skills they have, and what things they enjoy doing. Based on the popular book, Designing Your Life, by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, our workshop used the process of design thinking to help graduate students understand the career exploration process. The first stage of the design process involves understanding the user, which in this case is the student. Students had fun using pipe cleaners to visualize their concerns and aspirations about careers and used card sorts (based on the helpful assessments from ImaginePhD) to prioritize their top five skills, values, and interests. They also created mind maps that brought together different aspects of their lives (involving work, play, health, and love) and drew different versions of themselves that they can then “test” out as part of the career exploration process. We ended the workshop by discussing the MIND Career Exploration Road Map from UCSF to help guide students as they make decisions about their careers. It was by far one of my favorite workshops as we got to see what students created with their pipe cleaners, mind maps, and drawings.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend our pilot workshop, no worries! We’ll hold the workshop again in the future as well as with different departments and graduate student groups. Until then, however, make an appointment to speak with a Career Advisor about your career exploration plans. You can also check out some of these resources below so you can begin to reflect on your interests, skills, and values, explore careers that may interest you, and think about how you can design your PhD career in a way that you’ll find satisfying, productive, and rewarding:

Preparing for a professional conference, post-PhD style

Helen Pho, Associate Director

Next week, I’m heading to Madison, WI for the national conference of the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC), and I’m really looking forward to it. The GCC is a national organization for professionals who serve as graduate career advisers, basically people like me. When I was a doctoral student, I attended and presented at academic conferences where junior and senior scholars would often read academic papers out loud during panel sessions. These conferences can be stressful for graduate students because many were also interviewing for jobs at the same site.

When I became a graduate and postdoc career adviser, I was intrigued yet a little nervous about what a conference for graduate career advisers would look like. Would it be people reading papers again? Would there be a sense of anxiety among conference attendees? Happily, my first professional conference was nothing like the academic conferences I was used to attending. At my first GCC conference last summer, I had a blast meeting other graduate career advisers working all over the United States and Canada, and it quickly became my favorite conference that I’ve ever attended. I learned a lot about best practices for graduate career advising from attending different workshop presentations and chatting with colleagues at the poster session. (If you’re in the humanities and have never seen a poster session, it’s when a large group of presenters would stand next to their giant posters and talk about their research or ideas to attendees wandering around the session.) Most of all, the GCC is a very friendly and collegial group of professionals; everyone is eager to share best practices and ideas, and people love to talk to each other, which is not surprising considering the work we do!

As I prepare for my conference, I wanted to share three things I’m doing to be conference ready next week:

  1. Review the conference schedule. Conference schedules are often released before the event takes place, so take some time to go over what the days will entail. Like many conferences, there are often concurrent sessions and events, meaning you have to pick and choose which sessions you want to attend. If you spend some time ahead of the conference to make those decisions, that means you’ll have more time at the conference to network and chat with people.
  2. Set goals for the conference. Related to the first point, I like to think about what I want to get out of the conference before I arrive, when it’s often a bit hectic and slightly overwhelming with hundreds of people in attendance. For my goals this year, I’d love to chat with colleagues at other institutions to learn what they’re doing to help PhDs explore expanded careers in fun and interactive ways, and to hear how other institutions are supporting their first-gen grad students, since these are priorities in our work here. Spending just a small amount of time to identify goals for the conference beforehand will allow me to focus on attending relevant panels and talking to colleagues who are doing exciting work in this area before the conference flies by!
  3. Identify people with whom you’d like to connect or reconnect. The GCC conference has over 200 attendees, and although I would love to talk with everyone, it’s simply impossible to do so in a span of three days! There are many people whom I met last summer that I’d love to reconnect with as well as people that I’ve never met before that I’d love to meet in person. For example, I’ve been working on a subcommittee to help market ImaginePhD, a career exploration and planning tool designed for PhDs in the humanities and social sciences. (If you don’t know what it is, visit imaginephd.com!) We’ve had virtual meetings via video over the last year, so I’m excited to finally meet my fellow subcommittee members in person at the conference! Thinking ahead of people you’d like to meet will allow you to not only have a productive conference but an enjoyable one as well!

If you’re a graduate student planning to attend a professional conference anytime in the future, come meet with a career adviser. We’re happy to help you prepare for networking both within and beyond academia!