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Career Planning for Graduate Students

This three-phase career-planning guide is tailored for master’s and PhD students to develop capacities through their research, teaching, and leadership and program-specific internships.

Master's students

Career planning guide for Master's students
Master's Knowledge Engagement Strategy
Beginning of your program • Learn about career resources at Northwestern
• Explore job and industry options for your degree
• Determine whether an internship works for your program and schedule
• Meet with a career adviser or counselor at NCA or the career center that aligns with your area of study
• Attend graduate-student-focused career workshops and events on such topics as networking, interviewing, and job searching
• Identify career paths
to pursue
• Understand recruiting timelines based on your experience and industry
Midway through your program • Explore alumni and networking resources (e.g., NAA, NEXT, Mentoring Platform)
• Review job descriptions of positions that interest you
• Attend recruiting events, employer information sessions, and career programs • Seek an internship opportunity (depending on your program duration)
• Determine the gaps in your skill set and pursue opportunities to build the skills needed for your industry
Conclusion of your program • Explore and research employers in your industry and consider how they align with your career goals and values • Connect with professionals and alumni in your fields of interest to better position yourself for the job search • With an NCA adviser, develop a plan to apply to jobs or postdegree opportunities
• Revise and tailor your résumé

PhD students

Career planning guide for PhD students
PhD Knowledge Engagement Strategy
Beginning of your program • Develop a foundation in discipline-specific research skills and conventions through graduate curriculum • Attend discipline-specific panel discussions with faculty and visiting experts • Identify potential mentors and research collaborators
Midway through your program • Master oral and written
genres of your discipline through seminar, group, and conference presentations
and written media
• Develop knowledge of career fields by engaging with faculty, alumni, NCA programming, and career counselors and advisers
• Develop and maintain relationships with mentors
and peers
• Explore leadership and engagement opportunities on campus, including graduate student organizations and fellowships
• Take advantage of
professional development certifications and graduate assistantships
• Pursue outside funding options for the second through fifth year in order to have flexibility to bank a sixth year if necessary
Conclusion of your program • Gain in-depth, hands-on knowledge about specific careers of interest through on-campus opportunities or internships
• Begin reviewing job postings to help you articulate how your research experiences align with positions of interest
• Connect with alumni from Northwestern and previous institutions to learn more about the job search process and opportunities for advanced-degree candidates • Ensure your professional online presence is up to date
• Prepare field-specific application materials
(e.g., CVs, résumés, cover letters, research statements, teaching philosophy, and sample syllabi)