Career resources for graduate students

Career planning as a graduate student

Graduate school is itself a stage of your career. Being a graduate student introduces you to a particular sector of work (academia) with associated norms, values, and expectations. At the end of your graduate program, you may choose to continue to work in that sector (through continuing further studies, beginning a post-doc, or applying for academic jobs), or you may decide to bring your knowledge and skills to a different sector (for-profit industry, government, healthcare, and more).

Most graduate students will consider more than one career option over the course of their degree, and many students will find their career paths to be influenced by a variety of factors (e.g., family responsibilities, desired living location, desired income, labor market trends).

As a graduate student, your most valuable career development resources are curiosity, flexibility, and an open mind.

Career learning and exploration

The Centre for Student Involvement and Careers is a hub of career development expertise, programs, initiatives, and resources integrated within the full range of students’ academic, co-curricular, and extra-curricular experiences. The Centre works in partnership with Faculties to support students to become career-ready graduates.  

Graduate students (Masters and PhD, any discipline and any stage of their program) can access services related to career advising and development through the Centre. Students can also access services for up to 1 year post-graduation.

Danielle Barkley, PhD, works as the Graduate Career Educator and can serve as the key point of contact for inquiries related to graduate students. You can contact her by emailing danielle.barkley@ubc.ca.

Where to start

Career Exploration involves consideration of:

  • Skills: What you know how to do, and are good at
  • Interests: The type of work you like to do, the questions you want to answer, the problems you want to solve
  • Values: What you care about, how you want to show up in the world

There are many ways to assess and reflect on these areas. See key resources for graduate students in the “Additional Resources” section below. 

Advising appointments and drop-in hours

Current UBC graduate students and recent alumni (within 1 year of graduation) can access individual advising appointments through Zoom, Skype, or phone. Topics for these conversations include: career options or exploration, job search, networking, interviews, resume, academic CVs, and any career related topic. To book an appointment, please log in to CareersOnline.

If you are having difficulty identifying an appointment time that works with your schedule, please email danielle.barkley@ubc.ca to request an alternate time.

Additional Resources

Tools

  • UBC Graduate Game Plan
    See a wide-ranging discussion of strategies for graduate students to achieve academic and career related goals.
  • My IDP self-assessment
    Access a combined self-assessment and goal setting tool, designed for students with graduate degrees in STEM fields that includes information on academic and non-academic career paths.
  • Imagine PhD
    Access a self-assessment and goal setting tool, designed for students in social sciences and humanities. It includes information on a wide variety of career paths, annotated job postings, sample job documents, and job simulation activities.
  • Intersect Job Simulations
    By completing job simulations you can consider which careers are of interest to you and utilize provided resources to explore future courses of action by following up with professionals in the career field.

Resources

  • UBC PhD Outcomes (pdf)
    Published in 2017 using data from 2005-2013, this data reports on the career paths of UBC PhD graduates, including distribution across sectors, sample job titles, and satisfaction reports.
  • UBC Department Profile Career Outcomes
    On the “Prospective Students” page, most programs will include a “Career Outcomes” section with information about where recent graduates are working, their job titles, and more.
  • O-Net database of occupations
    Access a detailed database listing many occupations with information about required skills and qualifications.
  • Resumes, CVs, and cover letters
    Clearly demonstrate your skills, experiences, and characteristics by checking out tips on how to write your resume, CV, or cover letter.
  • University Affairs
    A variety of articles on higher education in Canada, including career advice and tips for graduate students.
  • Chronicle of Higher Education 
    A range of articles addressing current challenges and debates within higher education.
  • Inside Higher Education
    Articles and advice for graduate students working or planning to work in higher education.

Career path profiles

See interviews with individuals with PhDs now working in a variety of fields discussing their career transitions. You can also browse the list of websites that feature Post-PhD Interviews.

Opportunities

This list represents some examples of opportunities for graduate students to gain experience and expand their networks.

  • UBC Work Learn
    The Work Learn program offers paid, part-time work opportunities on campus for current students.
  • MITACS
    Canadian organization working to connect industry and academia. Offers funded internship opportunities, post-doc opportunities and professional development training opportunities to students from all disciplines
  • UBC Public Scholars Initiative
    Provides funding for UBC PhDs to pursue community-connected research
  • UBC English/History PhD Co-op
    Opportunity for PhD students in English or  History to complete a related co-op term as part of their doctoral degree
  • UBC Sustainability Scholars Program
    Paid internship program that matches UBC graduate students with on- and off-campus sustainability partners
  • UBC Graduate Pathways to Success
    A palette of non-credit workshops, seminars and other activities to support graduate school success and professional development.

Career stories

Arts perspective: Peter Wrinch

Peter Wrinch was focused on a career in academia throughout his studies in Russian History. He is currently the CEO of Hollyhock, a not-for-profit educational institute dedicated to lifelong learning and cultural transformation, through courses, conferences, and community.

An academic's perspective: Marwan Hassan

Marwan Hassan is a Professor at the University of British Columbia. He gives insight into choosing a career in academia and methods of achieving a job.

An engineer's perspective: Veronique Hadade

Veronique Hadade has a Masters in both Mechanical Engineering and Management, which she has applied to a career in VP Products and Solutions at PhotoSat.

Combining technical and business skills: Leslie Ng

Leslie Ng supplemented her undergraduate studies in Chemical Engineering with an MBA. She now works for the City of Vancouver as an engineer and planner for the sustainability team.

From a CFO and Mentor: Kathryn Hayashi

Kathryn Hayashi is the CEO at TRIUMF Innovations Inc., with a career spanning a variety of industries from music to biotechnology.

Transferring technical skills to industry: Harish Vasudevan

Harish Vasudevan holds a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences from UBC. Deciding that academia wasn't for him, he now is the Senior Project Manager at Sangamo Therapeutics.