How does the Graduate School help students land jobs when they are ready to leave Yale? Lots of ways. Most of them are organized by the Office of Graduate Career Services (GCS), headed by Victoria Blodgett.
Assisted by the six Career Fellows and Program Coordinator Yvette Barnard, Blodgett runs workshops and hosts speakers to help students every step of the way. Resources are available for both academic and non-academic job searches.
GCS programs present a wide range of career options and help students learn how to search for jobs, write effective cover letters, create impressive résumés and curriculum vitae, assemble teaching portfolios, network, interview, and to cap it all, negotiate job offers.
Recently, GCS conducted an informal survey of graduating students to determine where they would be next year. The largest cohort said they have accepted faculty positions, almost all as tenure track assistant professors. By way of example, Yale’s newest PhDs will be teaching history at CUNY, Clark University, University of Maryland, and Lesley University; economics at NYU, Pennsylvania State, and Princeton; statistics at Amherst College; French at Ohio Wesleyan; political science at Columbia University and Hamilton College; music at Columbia, Oberlin, and Rice, etc.
Another large contingent will transfer their skills and knowledge to positions outside academia. A few of them have chosen to start their careers working for the government: in the State Department, the Diplomatic Service, and the Army. Others landed research jobs in fields such as computer science, health economics, and the environment. Some will go into financial services and investment analysis; others into nonprofit work — fighting poverty, promoting education, and improving healthcare. One will work for Google, another for Citigroup, and a third for General Electric.
Among those who accepted postdoctoral fellowships, most are going to universities, including Yale, Harvard, Tulane, California Institute of Technology, Cornell, and UCLA; others, to research institutions like the NIH and Brookhaven National Laboratory.
A few reported that they will be staying at Yale: one to be the papyrologist at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library; another to join the Office of Development; a third to work for the Richard U. Light Fellowship.
And Conor Frailey (Mathematics), who landed a full-time position at North- western University Enterprise Data Warehouse as a data architect, volunteered this comment on his survey: “Love the GCS!!! Super helpful, flexible, creative, and informative!”
Bringing alumni to campus to talk about careers is one of the most effective ways to inspire students, share useful tips, and give them opportunities to network with professionals who are already working in their chosen fields. All through the year, alumni are invited to visit campus to speak to students individually and in groups, but this year, the University hosted two major annual career events.
The first, held for the first time in April at Yale Medical School, was the Biomedical Career Fair, organized by the newly established Graduate Biomedical Careers Committee and sponsored by graduate student training grants, donations from private companies, GSAS, the GSA, and GPSS. Graduate Career Services organized workshops focused on networking, résumé-writing, and career exploration strategies prior to the fair. About 300 students and postdoctoral fellows attended, and over 20 alumni returned to Yale to talk about their careers and experiences. Panels covered jobs in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, translational research and clinical trials, science policy and government, scientific communication, academic and research administration, and teaching in secondary schools and universities. In the evening, fourteen companies such as Pfizer, Qiagen, and Healthcare consulting networked with students who are, or will soon be, on the job market. Dionna Kasper (Genetics) was one of ten students on the Graduate Biomedical Careers Committee.
“Hosting the Biomedical Career Fair really embodied the primary objective of our graduate student group: to create effective and comprehensive career development opportunities specifically tailored to the needs of budding scientists,” Dionna says. “The career fair was successful at bringing useful resources to participants in any stage of their professional development. The informational panels allowed students early into their scientific careers to explore all different types of jobs that a doctorate from Yale opens up, while the corporate networking session helped connect more advanced-stage attendees directly to their next potential employer. Most of all, students really benefited from connecting with and receiving practical advice from enthusiastic Yale alumni participating in both events.”
Looking ahead, Dionna adds, “We would like to make this an annual event and are committed to hosting it in 2015.” For more information, visit the fair’s website.
To help postdoctoral fellows in the biological and biomedical sciences with job searches, Yale recently hired Lorna MacEachern to head the newly established Postdoctoral Career Services. She came to campus in April from McGill University in Canada, where she spent seven years giving career guidance to graduate students and postdocs. She is currently collecting information to better understand postdoctoral scholars’ career needs. The survey is available at this Yale web page.
For the past four years, the Graduate School Alumni Association (GSAA) has collaborated with Graduate Career Services to offer a highly successful program for students in all academic areas called “Where Do I Go from Yale?” This year the workshop was held on May 13, attended by about 200 people. The day began with welcoming remarks from Yale President Peter Salovey (PhD 1986, Psychology) and Dean Thomas Pollard. Other speakers at the opening session were GSAA Chair Valerie Hotchkiss (PhD 1990, Medieval Studies), director of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and her event co-chairs, Elie Track (PhD 1988, Physics), CEO of a solar cell start-up; and Susan Ball (PhD 1978, History of Art), deputy director of the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Blodgett says that it was especially encouraging to hear a “critical message delivered by both President Salovey and Dean Pollard to graduate students and faculty.” Both said that Yale, from its top leadership down, wants “graduate students to explore career pathways broadly and in whatever direction their imagination, skills, and passion take them. While many will choose a pathway to the professoriate, many more will find their PhD applied to work in different areas — and that Yale supports and encourages that breadth of career diversity.”
Hotchkiss noted that one of the chief missions of the GSAA is to help current graduate students: “We’re here to expand their circle of advisers and connections. GSAA members all have graduate degrees from Yale, but apart from that similarity, we are a pretty diverse group of CEOs, professors, research scientists, entrepreneurs, government officials, bankers, politicians, museum directors, and maybe even a few candlestick makers, among other things. We have knowledge, experience, and, most important perhaps, networks that might be useful to our ‘younger selves,’ current graduate students.”
Panels covered networking, transferable skills, careers for scientists and engineers, academic and research careers, international careers, work/life balance, non-profits, and opportunities in the humanities other than academia. Speakers were alumni leaders from a very wide range of academic areas, most of whom had careers outside the university.
“I think the biggest success was the diversity of the panel speakers,” said Faustin Carter (Physics). “It really showcased just how many options and opportunities there are for Yale PhD graduates, no matter what their field of study.”
Joseph Bae (Physics) found the day “extremely helpful,” and was especially impressed by the response Katherine Miller (PhD 2005, Neurobiology) gave when he asked about how to present rigor as a transferable skill when applying for a job. Miller, a patent attorney, advised him to “show your rigorousness in due diligence, in doing your homework and being able to back up what you say.”
“What I really took away from the event was the concept of following your interests throughout your career,” said Rebecca Delventhal (Molecular, Cellular & Developmental Biology), “and that you can pursue varied interests in multiple contexts and different jobs. Basically, let your interests drive your career path, rather than trying to plan out all stages from the beginning.”
Deborah Ayeni (Experimental Pathology) was especially impressed with something Andrew Richter (PhD 1979, Sociology) said. “He explained that there is no such thing as a linear career path any more, but rather that it is dynamic and fluid. He added that you can envision your first job as the transition between your formal education and your career. I think it was important for a lot of students, including myself, to hear that it’s okay if our first job is not THE job.”
Richter is former senior vice president for compensation and benefits at NBC Universal in New York. He was one of many outstandingly successful speakers. They included Rahul Prasad (PhD 1987, Engineering & Applied Science), senior scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — a driving force behind the establishment of this event; Paul Bosco (MS 1984, Engineering & Applied Science), vice president of strategy and market development at Cisco Systems; Pauline Wyrembak (PhD 2009, Chemistry), associate director in the Launch Excellence Office at Boehringer Ingelheim; Jenny Carrillo (PhD 2005, Psychology), senior vice president of external affairs and strategic planning for Planned Parenthood; Nancy Brune (PhD 2006, Political Science), executive director of the Kenny Guinn Center for Policy Priorities in Las Vegas, Nevada.; Amy Myers (PhD 1985, American Studies), director of the Yale Center for British Art, and many more.
Elizabeth Sullivan (BA 1974, MA 1976, Soviet and Eastern European Studies) director of opinion for the Northeast Ohio Media Group in Cleveland and head of the editorial board for The Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest newspaper, spoke on the panel titled “Careers in the Humanities, but not in the Classroom.” She offered some very practical advice: “Whether or not you’re thinking of the media as a career or stepping stone, you should try to have an online presence that establishes you and your expertise when potential employers ‘Google’ you.” She urged students to work on their short-form writing (blogs, op-eds) and to read “as widely as you can within the time constraints you face, to get a sense of current events and where you (and your expertise and your future career) might fit.”
Bobbi Sutherland (PhD 2009, Medieval Studies), assistant professor of history at the University of Dayton, speaking on the panel devoted to academic and research jobs, said that “it was no longer the case that students should expect academic jobs straight out of graduate school,” but that “the vast majority of people seem to get jobs after a post-doc or lectureship or visiting assistant professorship.” She stressed that “there is a blessing in disguise in this, because you learn to teach and balance teaching with research while you’re still off the tenure clock.”
Gregg Keaney (PhD 2005, Chemistry), senior scientific investigator in medicinal chemistry at H3 Biomedicine in Cambridge, Massachusetts, moderated the panel on Careers for Scientists and Engineers this year and was a panelist last year. He summed up what a lot of alumni participants experienced at “Where Do I Go from Yale?” when he said, “I have really enjoyed participating in this workshop because it’s a great opportunity to meet face-to-face with current graduate students and provide them with candid advice on their career interests. It felt really great when students approached me to tell me how aspects of this workshop have had a positive impact on their short- and long-term career goals.”
Current and future students will be well served by the united efforts of Graduate Career Services and the Graduate School Alumni Association. “We are committed to making meaningful connections between alumni and current graduate students,” said GSAA Chair Hotchkiss. “Our annual career workshop is the centerpiece of this endeavor, but we are also working on mentoring programs, internships, and building closer connections between alums and their former departments with the goal of advising current students on professional opportunities.”