About the Center for
Graduate Career Success

Our journey started in 2014 when our founder, Dr. L. Maren Wood, hosted the very first online career conference for graduate students and PhDs. Since then the Center supports over 20,000 students annually through webinars, curriculum, and conferences.

WHAT WE DO

The Center designs research-informed curriculum to prepare master’s and doctoral students for job search and career success. We partner with universities to deliver our programming through digital training platforms, enabling an institution to scale career services to meet the needs of a growing and diverse graduate student population. 

 

We leverage our training and expertise as educators and scholars to confront the employment challenges facing master’s and doctoral students. We use mixed-methods research (interviews, surveys, and observations) to collect, analyze, and document: 

  • Knowledge gaps of graduate students that prevent them from being successful in their job search
  • Challenges graduate students encounter in leveraging their expertise to build professional careers
  • Successful job search strategies for master’s and doctoral students 
  • The emotional and psychological barriers PhDs face when leaving academia

ABOUT OUR RESEARCH

Our research shows that students acquire knowledge about careers and job searching through a variety of sources and in a nonlinear process. As a result, they often miss foundational concepts and struggle to apply knowledge to their job search in a logical way. Knowledge gaps lead to haphazard job searching, which leads to frustration and failure.

 

Doctoral and master’s students approach their education and job search with different goals and objectives. As such, the challenges facing doctoral and master’s students are unique and require different resources and support.

 

We apply this research to the development of training platforms and curriculum that allow students to explore careers and prepare for a job search with purpose and strategy. Our structured curriculum minimizes a student’s sense of overwhelm and maximizes job search success.

CHALLENGES FACING UNIVERSITIES

With 3114 students (undergraduate and graduate) for every 1 professional development staff member, under-resourced career offices may overlook the specific needs of graduate students due to budget constraints. Universities require digital, scalable, solutions to help prepare a growing and diverse graduate student population for career success and to provide equal access to career services across departments, divisions, and schools.

 

By partnering with the Center, universities are able to provide high-quality, structured, educational tool to support the unique needs of master’s and doctoral students. Designed to complement existing on-campus resources, the Center’s curriculum allows institutions to maximize career center staff time and accommodate the busy-lives of graduate students.

CHALLENGES FACING MASTER'S STUDENTS

The majority of graduate students enrolled in master’s programs are career-focused. They seek additional knowledge and training to advance in their professional lives — either in a career pathway they are currently pursuing, or to help them move into a new career path of interest. Professional master’s degrees are short and intensive programs, usually completed in less than two years, with a heavy emphasis on experiential learning.

 

Thesis-based master’s students who do not intend to pursue doctoral education have different motivations and challenges. Many pursue master’s degrees for the love of discipline without a specific career outcome. As such, these students need specific guidance to identify career pathways where they can find career satisfaction and apply their skills and knowledge.

 

The short time frame for master’s students means that students need to be intentional and strategic in their education and training. Building networks on and off campus, developing and applying their skills, and learning effective job search strategies, help professional and research-based master’s students to maximize their investment in their education.

 

Beyond Graduate School is designed to help students effectively balance the dual foci of excelling as graduate students while also building the knowledge, framework, and network, that will lead to rewarding and meaningful careers after graduation.

CHALLENGES FACING doctoral students

PhDs pursue doctoral education with the intention of becoming faculty. This is true for STEM PhDs as well as social sciences and humanities PhDs. The majority of PhDs are hesitant to pursue nonacademic careers because they worry they will not be intellectually engaged and that their work and life will have less meaning.

 

This reluctance means that too many doctoral students delay career exploration and preparation for nonacademic careers. Without networks outside of academia, and lacking knowledge about professional career pathways, too many PhDs remain in low-paying contingent positions as adjuncts and postdocs.

 

This lack of preparation contributes to the mental-health crisis facing doctoral students and postdocs: 50% experience anxiety and depression which is 6x the rate of the general population. Multiple surveys have shown that uncertainty about careers is a leading contributing factor.

Through Beyond the Professoriate, doctoral students are able to overcome the fear of career exploration by accessing a library of interviews with PhDs who have made the career transition. 

 

They are also able to work through a training program designed to walk them through the four stages of PhD career transition, allowing them to make an informed career decision and learn proven job search strategies.

 

Our platform is the only training platform that provides support for both faculty and non-faculty job searches, allowing PhDs to maximize the chances of landing a meaningful career after graduation.

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OUR HISTORY

Our journey started in 2014 when our founder, Dr. L. Maren Wood, hosted the very first online career conference for graduate students and PhDs. From 2014 to 2017, she conducted research on career pathways for the Chronicle of Higher Education and the American Historical Association. Graduate students began reaching out to Dr. Wood asking for career advice on how they, too, could make the leap from academia to industry. 


Under the brand Beyond the Professoriate, Dr. Wood and her team of PhD researchers and educators began building programming and resources to support PhDs who were in career crisis. In 2019, BtP launched an e-learning platform to partner with universities to help programs prepare doctoral students for job searching in and beyond the professoriate. 


Not only were doctoral students using our e-learning platform, so too were master’s students. But what we learned through surveys and interviews was that master’s students had different obstacles and challenges from doctoral students. One curriculum and one platform was insufficient to meet the needs of both groups of students. 


In 2021, the Center conducted research into the needs of master’s students and began designing curriculum. Launching in 2022, Beyond Graduate School will be the only online career platform dedicated to the needs of master’s students, allowing institutions to better support, mentor, and advise students on how to leverage their education in today’s fast-paced and changing economy.