Friday, November 18, 2016

Workshops in Preparing Future Professionals: A Model in Postdoc Career Development

We were joined by Nathan Vanderford from the University of Kentucky on the second part of his seminar series, this time demonstrating valuable tools and lessons to develop a course or workshop on professional development for PhDs!






Realities of today's workforce with PhD degrees

2% unemployment

52% within academic
48% outside academia

26% for profit
9% non-profit
8% federal employment
3% self-employed
2% state employment

Graduate students interest in moving into the tenure track declines over time:
41.7% First Year
21%Third Year
(Fuhmann et al CBE Life Sci Ed 2011)

But, there is no concerted training for alternative careers!

Goals of the course:
- Understand the realities of the job market
- Realise what skills are required to transition
- Identify resources
- Take action to prepare for their chosen career

Five Major Didactic Requirements:

Career Exploration
- Explore the career paths that are of interest to them
- Written paper on necessary skills

Transferrable Skills
- Perform a self assessment and create action plans for improving identified weaknesses

Informational Interviews
- Students contact an individual in their ideal career and conduct an informational interview to develop networking skills
- How did the interviewee obtain their workplace skills?
- How did graduate skill prepare you for this career?
- Expand student's network by asking for additional points of contact

Career Development
- Students obtain experiences in critical components of the job search process including résumé and cover letter writing
- Practice interviewing and job search execution

Student Engagement
- Students interact with guest speakers as well as present their finding from each assignment to promote student-driven discussions

Demographics:
6% Postdocs
55% PhD trainees
32% Master's students
6% Other (undergraduates, non-degree seekers)

Course Strengths:
- Safe environment to explore their career options and work through options in a positive way
- Self-assessment
- Identification of career options
- Student engagement
- Student-driven discussion
- Diversity of disciplines
- Development of work readiness skills

Course Challenges:
- Diversity of disciplines (which guest speakers, from which disciplines)
- Tuition (who pays?)
- Permission to attend (scheduling of the class versus time spend for research)
- Course versus workshop format

Course versus Workshop Format

Course:
Positives:
- Sustained engagement
- Incentives (grade) to participate
- Effective platform for exercises

Challenges:
- Costly
- Limited reach
- PI resistance

Workshop:
Positives:
- Free
- Reach a larger audience

Challenges:
- Interrupted engagement
- No incentive to participate in exercises
- Non-effective platform for exercises

Future Plans:
Certificate Program:
- Work hours component (4 hours)
- Course hours (2 hours)

Tips for trainees:

Goal setting tips:
- Write out goals and map out a strategy
- Post your goals where you can easily see them

Career Exploration and Networking:
- LinkedIn
- Alumni network
- Informational interviews
- Work Experience

Transferrable skills:
- Functional skills
- Knowledge-based skills
- Personal traits and attitudes

- A realistic assessment helps with your placement and career success

Tools to assess transferrable skills:
- Science Careers myIDP
- Gallup StrengthsFinder
- SkillScan
- MN Career Pathways
- Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

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