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Graduate Student Council looks to CareerLAB for professional support

Graduate Student Strategic Initiative advocates for improved advising, funding

In a draft of the Graduate Student Strategic Initiative released earlier this month, the Graduate Student Council proposed several changes to bolster career support for graduate students, many of which require collaboration with the CareerLAB.

The GSSI is a set of goals the GSC would like to achieve within the next five years. GSC Chair of Nominations for the 2019 term Rebecca Thorsness, who wrote the GSSI section on career development, said the GSSI seeks to promote continued advocacy despite turnover of the executive board and people who are part of the graduate board council.

One of the central proposals of the GSSI’s advising and career development section is improving the current advising program, particularly for students pursuing non-academic careers. “We’re at an academic institution, so everyone’s advisor chose a career in academia. There is more support for those students because … your advisor knows what it took for them to get a faculty job,” Thorsness said.

“We do have targeted resources for graduate students, as their needs tend to be different than undergrad students,” said Bev Ehrich, associate director for graduate student programs and services in the CareerLAB. “We work with students ... to figure out how (their) skills apply to career families, to industries … so they can be successful, even in a non-academic job market.”

Another issue addressed by the GSSI was the need for greater funding devoted to graduate students traveling to conferences, which represents “a really important way to get feedback on your research and to meet people who might want to hire you one day,” Thorsness added.

Despite the programming already offered to graduate students through the CareerLAB, limited resources present a continuing problem.

“I think it’s a scale issue,” said CareerLAB Director Matt Donato. “It would be a real benefit to graduate students to have a more proactive approach, but we just aren’t staffed enough to do that right now.”

The CareerLAB has just one graduate counselor compared to “three and a half, four people for undergraduates,” Donato said. “So you know there’s definitely more resources and more support that is targeted to undergraduate students, which I think long term is going to be a problem if we can’t address that.”

Thorsness also highlighted resources as an issue. Ehrich “has worked really hard to try to meet grad student needs, but they’re so varied, and there are a lot of grad students and only one (Ehrich).”

Thorsness stressed the importance of communication between the CareerLAB and the GSC, which could serve as “a good conduit for both distributing information about opportunities and then really getting feedback from grad students about what kind of opportunities they want.”

Correction: A previous version of this story mistakenly referred to the Graduate Student Strategic Initiative as the Graduate School Strategic Initiative. The Herald regrets the error.

Jack Walker

Jack Walker served as senior editor of multimedia, social media and post- magazine for The Herald’s 132nd Editorial Board. Jack is an archaeology and literary arts concentrator from Thurmont, Maryland who previously covered the Grad School and staff and student labor beats.

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