PhD Student Timeline

No matter where you are in your doctoral degree, you can start preparing to find a career or job after graduation. See our guided timeline below for some ideas about how to prepare. You can also use our checklists to help you prepare for your job search.

Explore Our PhD Timeline:

 

Years One-Two:  

Build Your Network

  • Create a LinkedIn Profile and update it regularly.
  • If you don’t already have an advisor, find an advisor who fits your academic interests and personal mentoring style. Ask them to connect you with other faculty or staff members who might be of interest to you.
  • Evaluate your network using our Building and Evaluating Your Personal Network worksheet or on your own. Identify where your network is strong and make a plan to strengthen your network where it is weak.
  • Conduct informational interviews with relevant companies and/or positions.
  • If applicable, join professional organizations to expand your network.
  • If applicable, attend professional conferences to learn more about your field and to network.
  • Introduce yourself and get to know other graduate students and faculty in your department and around campus.
  • Attend networking events on campus and throughout your own personal network (such as your undergraduate alma mater, conferences, industry events, professional associations,etc).

Plan for Success

  • Create a long-term timeline that spans the entirety of your projected PhD degree (approximately 5-7 years depending on your department and personal schedule) that outlines your goals and deadlines for completing your degree. 
  • Familiarize yourself with your department’s cycle of regular deadlines, research & travel grants, and fellowships and grants.
  • Explore the Career Center website to learn about informational interviews, networking, and other pertinent information for job seekers.
  • Draft a Master List of your past experiences for fodder to make your Resume.
  • If you have a CV, convert it into a resume. Explore making several resumes for several types of positions.
  • Do some self-reflection and research to determine possible companies or organizations of interest or desirable career paths or positions. Ask yourself what kind of lifestyle, locations, and career you’d like to have. Determine what steps you can take now to work towards these goals.

Gain Experience and Transferable Skills

  • Research and apply for summer internships, jobs, and/or volunteer work to explore and hone your transferable skills.
  • Visit the Career Center to identify transferable skills and help with your application materials for summer opportunities.
  • Consider taking on a leadership role on campus through the Graduate Student Association, the Graduate Student Commons, or in a low-impact departmental or campus committee.
  • Consider participating in the Graduate Division’s Graduate Student Leadership Certificate Program.
  • If possible, do an internship, volunteer work, or hold a part-time job while you earn your degree to expand your network and skills.

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Years Three-Four + :

Build Your Network

  • Update your LinkedIn Profile regularly.
  • Continue to conduct informational interviews if necessary.
  • Continue to attend networking events on campus and throughout your own personal network (such as your undergraduate alma mater, conferences, industry events, professional associations,etc).
  • If applicable, join professional organizations to expand your network.
  • If applicable, attend professional conferences to learn more about your field and to network.

Plan for Success

  • Adjust and update your long-term PhD completion timeline with appropriate goals and deadlines.
  • Make drafts of cover letters and resumes for job applications.
  • Ask trusted colleagues or mentors to critique your materials.
  • Visit the Career Center for a critique of your application materials and any other career concerns.
  • Monitor your desired job field to anticipate any developments and stay involved in contemporary conversations.
  • Look at the current job market for the industries or positions you’re interested in and assess what skills you possess and where you could improve your skills to make your future applications stronger.
  • When necessary, contact potential letter recommenders and/or references to meet with them, update them on your goals, and provide an updated resume.
  • Continue to self-reflect on the progress you’ve made and your future goals and desired lifestyle. Ask yourself there are any adjustments you want to make and how you can make those adjustments.

Gain Experience and Transferable Skills

  • Research and apply for summer internships, jobs, and/or volunteer work to explore and hone your transferable skills.
  • Visit the Career Center to identify transferable skills, get help writing your application materials for jobs and/or summer opportunities.
  • Consider taking on a leadership role on campus through the Graduate Student Association, the Graduate Student Commons, or in a low-impact departmental or campus committee.
  • Consider participating in the Graduate Division’s Graduate Student Leadership Certificate Program.
  • If possible, do an internship, volunteer work, or hold a part-time job while you earn your degree to expand your network and skills.

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Final Year:

Build Your Network

  • Update your LinkedIn profile regularly.
  • Continue to conduct informational interviews if necessary.
  • Continue to attend networking events on campus and throughout your own personal network (such as your undergraduate alma mater, conferences, industry events, professional associations, etc).
  • If applicable, join professional organizations to expand your network.
  • If applicable, attend job fairs and networking events geared towards job seekers meeting recruiters.
  • Create business cards to bring with you to job fairs or to give out when requested.
  • Alert your network to let them know you are on the job market.

Plan for Success

  • Create a calendar with job application deadlines.
  • Apply to jobs.
  • Adjust and update your long-term PhD completion timeline with goals and deadlines.
  • Balance your time between job seeking activities and finishing your dissertation.
  • Visit the Career Center to practice interviewing.
  • Visit the Career Center to have a Career Coach critique your application materials.
  • Learn about negotiating a job offer.
  • Learn about job salaries in your field.
  • Bring your resume, business cards, research employers in advance, and attend job fairs on campus or elsewhere.
  • Contact recommendation letter writers and/or references to keep them appraised of your progress.

Gain Experience and Transferable Skills

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Do you need help preparing yourself for a Dual Career Path? Make a confidential appointment with one of our Career Coaches today!