Graduate career services expand online with new program

The University is taking one digital step forward with its graduate career services this year by subscribing to a new program aiming to help students in the job search while in college.

Office of Graduate Studies assistant dean John Dalton said along with offering workshops for career services, UT has recently added a new program called the Versatile PhD program. The Versatile PhD program is an online career service that offers an online community for students to discuss issues and information and help students in humanities find jobs in non-academic fields.

In addition to the Versatile PhD program, the University is also adding career service workshops. The Versatile PhD program provides real-life examples of resumes, career biographies and panel discussions. The program specifically serves students who are not going into the academic field.

Dalton said that often, students start school with an academic career in mind, but this can change.

“Sometimes students get into their Ph.D. programs and realize they may want to do something else,” Dalton said. “When students make that career change, it is difficult sometimes to find the proper resources to help advise them and guide them into their new career choices.”

Paula Chambers, Versatile PhD program founder, said doctoral students often have trouble finding a job outside of academic fields.

Chambers said employers often perceive Ph.D. graduates as employees that may have poor social skills or bad group working skills. This makes it more difficult for students applying for jobs, she said.

“Many businesses are hesitant to hire [Ph.D. graduates], because they think a Ph.D. would prefer an academic job and will only stay until they get an academic job,” Chambers said. “There is a perception gap that the [Ph.D. graduates] have to overcome.”

She said another issue graduate students face is fear when they decide to transition from pursuing an academic career to a non-academic career. Chambers said students often feel pressure to pursue academic careers because those are regarded more highly by their peers. Because of this, admitting and deciding to pursue a non-academic career is often a scary thought.

The online community can help students facing these fear, she said.

The Versatile PhD program caters mostly to students studying humanities. Students, Chambers said, are normally underserved at their universities. Starting July 2013, Versatile PhD will begin to help students in the science, technology, engineering and math fields as well, she said.

Stacey Rudnick, director of MBA career management at the McCombs School of Business, said the business school has one of the top job placement rates in the nation. Last year, she said 93 percent of students had job offers three months after graduation.

Rudnick said online career service programs like Versatile PhD are good additions to career services.

“I see some aspects of job searching moving to online and web-based,” Rudnick said. “I don’t believe any of that is going to replace the need for in-person advising or the need for companies to meet one-on-one. It is important, but it can only go so far.”

Dalton said he recommends graduate students get started on their career search as soon as possible.

“Once you graduate, a lot of the University’s resources are no longer available to you,” Dalton said. “If you’re not thinking about a career ‘til the end of your degree process, you’re very late in the game.”

Chambers will visit UT Oct. 11 to speak about the Versatile PhD program.

Printed on Monday, October 1, 2012 as: UT subscribes to graduate career service