What To Do and When

Use this guide to stay on track for success.

Beginning Your Studies

Career Exploration:

  • Perform a self-assessment and focus on career goals
  • Create an Individual Development Plan (IDP) with your advisor or mentor
  • Begin developing a CV or resume
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date and remember to grow your network throughout your time in graduate school, as this may be helpful when you are preparing to move on

Research/Scholarship:

  • Learn about resources important for research and scholarship
  • Attend library workshops on topics such as finding information, using citation managers such as EndNote or Refworks, publishing your research and copyright
  • Identify sources of fellowship funding
  • Read about your discipline

Teaching:

  • Participate in the TA training hosted by your school, college, and/or department
  • Become an avid user of tle.wisc.edu, UW’s online collaborative meeting place on teaching and learning
  • Read UW-Madison’s policies on teaching and learning, such as Religious Observances Memo
  • Learn about ways to avoid cheating in your classroom, from UW Libraries, and the Dean of Students Office
  • Have faculty observe your teaching, then discuss ways to improve and build new skills
  • Collect evaluations of your teaching, both quantitative and qualitative

Mentoring:

  • Find a faculty mentor or form a mentoring team
  • In addition to your mentor, seek advice from more senior graduate students

Degree Completion:

  • Attend departmental seminars, network with peers and faculty
  • Read your program’s graduate handbook and materials and consult senior graduate students, faculty and staff to become familiar with the program’s requirements
  • Meet with your advisor or advisory committee and make a coursework plan

Life Skills:

  • Learn to live on a student budget, take CashCourse or attend a workshop on personal finance
  • Learn the ins and outs of student loans, including repayment, at a session on student loans
  • Start good habits and stay physically and mentally fit: utilize Rec Sports and UHS
  • Stay connected you’re your community: learn about the Morgridge Center and volunteer your time
  • Sharpen your public speaking skills

Early/Mid Graduate Career

Career Exploration:

  • Revisit your Individual Development Plan and, as needed, expand skills and experiences through courses, volunteer work, internships and employment
  • Read the Chronicle of Higher Education or Inside Higher Ed for a better understanding of higher education
  • Reconsidering what you want to do when you grow up?  Seek advice and support from peers at a (confidential) UHS support group meeting.

Research/Scholarship:

  • Join a professional association
  • Find out the dates of important  conferences, and when proposals are due
  • Pursue fellowship opportunities
  • Maintain regular contact with your faculty advisor
  • Learn your program’s policy on dissertation committees members and start forming your committee

Teaching:

Mentoring:

  • Continue to meet regularly with your mentor or mentoring team, seek advice on which professional associations to join
  • If possible, attend a national conference with your mentor and ask to be introduced to others in your field
  • Add your mentor as a contact on LinkedIn, and ask to be connected with any of his/her 2nd level contacts who seem relevant to your career path or research interests 

Degree Completion:

  • Create a project plan for thesis completion
  • Attend workshops on time management
  • Prepare timeline for degree completion

Life Skills:

Mid/Late Graduate Career

Career Exploration:

  • Attend workshops on the job search and interviewing
  • Attend workshops on vita, CV, or resume writing
  • Apply for postdoctoral positions, if appropriate for your field
  • If considering switching your focus from faculty jobs to careers beyond the academy, consider attending a career exploration workshop, meeting with a career counselor, and doing informational interviewing to learn more about new paths
  • Participate in the dissertator support groups hosted by UHS

Research/Scholarship:

Teaching:

Mentoring:

  • Learn to mentor – consider joining Delta
  • Consider how what you’ve learned about mentoring informs your teaching philosophy
  • Continue to meet regularly with your mentor or mentoring team

Degree Completion:

  • Continue attending departmental seminars and events; network with visiting scholars
  • Seek input from your mentor or other faculty on academic job search
  • Apply for a Vilas Research or Conference Travel Grant

Life Skills:

  • Keep your CV or resume up-to-date with your community service and volunteer work
  • Brush up on what to expect from student loan repayment or deferment by attending a session on student loans
  • Seek out training on communication skills, cross-cultural communication, and/or group facilitation –important for any career path

Preparing To Move On

Career Exploration:

  • Prepare targeted CV, letters, research statements if seeking academic positions
  • Prepare targeted resume and cover letters if seeking positions beyond the academy
  • Know your transferable skills
  • If offered by your school/college’s career services office, set up and appointment to practice interviewing

Research/Scholarship:

  • Present dissertation or other research papers at national conferences
  • Read the Graduate School’s deadlines and guidelines for depositing your thesis
  • Develop ideas for post-dissertation research
  • Know your transferable skills
  • Attend the Graduate School’s workshop “Last Steps to Completing Your PhD” 

Teaching:

  • Try to teach a course as a primary instructor
  • Revise teaching philosophy/portfolio
  • Ask faculty for letters of recommendation that speak to your teaching
  • Read journals on scholarship of teaching
  • If applying for faculty positions, know what courses you can teach
  • If applying for positions outside the academy know the transferable skills that you have gained as a TA

Mentoring:

  • Ask your mentor if you can list him/her as a job reference
  • Vet your CV, resume, or cover letters with your mentor

Degree Completion:

  • Give a practice job talk
  • Acquire letters of recommendation
  • Attend Graduate School workshops on steps to completing your degree

Life Skills:

  • Consider the skills you have developed or improved through your community engagement efforts, and how these skills transfer to your job search
  • Learn financial strategy for the next step: what to expect from your paycheck, financial planning and investing