Posts Tagged ‘grad school’

Career services as an undergrad was a fully formed process. At my undergrad college graduates were scheduled for an exit interview with career services and at the interview you discussed your plan to make use of your newly minted degree. Before leaving a follow up interview would be scheduled in which you would review your resume and cover letter skills. Lastly, all seniors took part in an interview session with career services.

It seemed like a burden at the time and often seniors would make a game out of avoiding the career services gauntlet. But looking back it was a process that, rightly so, supposed the senior wasn’t sure what was needed and insured engagement by them. My current career services department takes a traditional approach that requires the graduate to know not only what s/he wants to do next, but knows the path to get to that point. Given that many enter into graduate school from a different careerpath to expect within 2-3 years of fulltime studies a student would have the answer and the pathway to access the answer seems misplaced. My career services department offers a series of workshops: Bootcamp 1-3, a career changers workshop, and a series of miscellaneous workshops. Bootcamp 3 is an all day affair, yes as in 8 hours, that covers what you should have learned from bootcamp 1 and 2 as well as an on-camera interview. Before starting grad school I sat-in on a career services workshop (the career changers one), and I liked the idea that the program wanted to broach the idea of career changers which other university career services seemed less inclined to address. 

Unfortunately what I know now, that I didn’t know then, was the lack of integration of the various workshops by my programs career services. So, while there is a career changers workshop the bootcamp series of workshops are structured as if there aren’t career changers in the group. PARs (Problem-Action-Results) is the only format offered for resume workshopping and I find it a bit difficult to take that my career services is assuming all graduates entered and are leaving with the same body of experience for the marketplace. I can understand if PARs is the ‘gold standard’ of resume preparation but in a market climate that requires standing out it would be nice to at least be informed of the alternatives. For instance realizing the way we consume information has changed with the advent of google, web 2.0, and the social media centric web I wanted to reflect that change in my resume. I am a fan of the infographs as it tells multiple little stories while presenting the big picture, and I wanted to incorporate infographic qualities into my resume. Sadly, my career services contact only could see PARs. Even after a conversation explaining my concern preparing a resume that parrots every other resume I was urged to go to bootcamp 1 (again) and to do problem-action-results statements for each employment experience and internship experiences on my resume. Needless to say it didn’t seem advantageous to me to sit in bootcamp 1 as it basically teaches you how to do PARs, and I know how to do it — I just recognize there may be other tools that could serve me better in this economic climate.

I wish I could say my university is an anomaly in it’s one pathway approach to career services but per conversations other recent graduates from other nationally recognized programs …. this is not the case. Sadly, instead of grad programs bolstering career services many career services are finding themselves swamped with more students and by proxy a higher demand on services. Because most students are focused on finding the right program for them by the time they begin thinking about what they need from career services, they are usually heading into graduation. Of course by graduation time its a little difficult to make any adjustments for the shortfalls of your programs career services.

Looking back to my selection process I wished I had asked how:

  • alumni services are integrated into career services
  • often career services reviews workshop offerings
  • career services receives feedback from expected grads and alumni currently looking for employment
  • often career services reviews employment search materials
  • employment leads specific to your program are culled

I think that it was naive of me to expect my program to adjust its career services game to the economic market, but I think it is realistic to expect my program to put as much thought into the career services as they do in the coursework design. Likewise, I think those who are looking into programs, particularly given the financial climate, should ask and take time to explore the career services offerings from those programs on a shortlist. At the end of the day going to grad school is a huge undertaking both financially and time wise. If you go to school fulltime you will be out of the market for at least a few years, and of course you will be in significantly more debt than before starting a program. Entering back into the job market is process that requires some assistance in order to navigate effectively. That navigation means the difference between finding yourself in a job under capitalized and finding it difficult to meet your debt obligations, or worst yet you may find yourself unable to shift into your new careerpath and instead falling into your pre-grad school career choices.


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I grew up in Philadelphia, 92 miles away from New York City, but in the long (very long) shadow of the city. While many of my peers spoke ‘early and often’ about moving to New York, I always assumed I would move to the nation’s capital – DC. After majoring in political science during my undergrad years I had my DC opportunity. I found myself working as a researcher for the Democratic National Committee during the 2000 presidential cycle and the subsequent recount, and had some surreal moments during my tenure at the DNC such as White House dinners, debate prep, and the constant fear that today would be the day I would go to work and find out I was going to Florida – like right now – due to the recount. After the 2000 election and recount, I along with many of my fellow DNC researchers decided to move forth in the world. A few went on to do research for cable news networks (a burgeoning FoxNews and a transitioning CNN), others went off to law school, and I decided to join the campaign trail again. After turning down an opportunity to work on the 2001 Israeli snap election, due to what I thought would be a ‘crazy’ environment, I ended up working on the ‘crazy’ 2001 mayoral election in New York City.  September 11th was New York’s primary day, and like many in the city and the country by the end of the day the things I thought I knew I no longer felt certain about them.

For me politics was a way to bring about systemic change. I believed by working to elect individuals who could introduce legislation and use the bully pulpit of the office to effect policy shifts, would ensure the things I cared about (such as social security, Medicare, funding for higher education, et al.) would survive and thrive. But after September 11th I realized there were many nonprofit organizations that were carrying out and building the systems for those policies to be effective that were losing funding due to the priority shift towards national security. I began working as a fundraiser and saw how ineffectual leadership within an organization drove away programmatic talent and was unable to draw new talent. With the 2008 financial crisis I realized it was time to step up to the plate and so I applied to Milano for nonprofit management.

Growing up in a city of 1.5M and living in a city of 8.2M, I often find myself defining (and re-defining) what I mean by community and how I valuate the community I’ve defined. Politics taught me the art of crossing community boundaries. The nonprofit world taught me to give edges to the boundaries crossed as well as to see the spaces created by crossing those boundaries. It is the community of Milano that ultimately drove me to accept admission to the program.

— Eulalia

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