When thinking about your future career and professional life, it can be challenging to know where to begin. Get started by reading through our FAQs to acquaint yourself with the Career Center, what we can offer you, and how to start planning for your future. 


Explore some common questions: 


Who is eligible for the services provided by the Career Center?

  • All currently enrolled undergraduate, graduate students, and alumni who graduated up to two years ago are eligible for services provided by the Career Center. UCSC Alumni can find more information about available services through the Alumni Office. Post-docs are university employees and are eligible for help through Staff Human Resources


Where is the Career Center?

  • We are located in the Hahn Student Services Building 125 via the East Entrance on the first floor.


How do I make an appointment?

  • You can schedule a 30-minute appointment to meet with a career coach through Handshake. Appointments are available virtually or in-person during open office hours. Check Handshake for current availability.
  • Drop-in coaching with a peer coach is avaiable virtually Monday through Friday from 10 am to 12 pm or in-person Monday through Thursday from 1 pm to 3 pm on a first-come, first-served basis.


I'm logged into Handshake and I don't understand how to make an appointment. What should I click?


What can I expect from a session with a career coach?

  • By meeting with a career coach, we can help you explore personal strengths, identify career options, and develop your career goals; find internship and employment opportunities, and learn job search strategies such as converting your CV to a resume, writing a cover letter, practicing your interviewing skills, and how to conduct a successful job search


When is the right time in my Master’s or PhD program to come to the Career Center?

  • Anytime. That said, the sooner the better. Master’s programs are short (typically 1-3 years) so it is important to think of your career from the very start of your Master’s program. For PhD students, the day when you will apply for jobs may seem far away but laying the foundational groundwork to prepare yourself for careers both inside and outside of the academy will ensure your success on the job market. If you want to be a marketable and competitive candidate, you must start developing your materials and yourself long before you arrive on the job market. Furthermore, with the current job market for tenure-track academic positions, knowing that you are adequately prepared for a variety of careers will give you confidence and peace of mind that upon graduating you will have many choices available to you


I’m just beginning my program. Why can’t I come in when I’m on the market?

  • Career planning requires time, effort, and the creation and revision of your materials. When searching for a non-academic job, it can take between 6-9 months to land a position. For an academic search, experts advise job seekers to begin their search 18 months before they want to be employed.
  • For both academic and non-academic positions, networking is key to your success. For non-academic jobs, 65% of jobs are secured through personal and professional connections made during networking. Often, these jobs are never advertised. Likewise, for academic job seekers, networking in your field is crucial to your success as an academic. 
  • For both academic and non-academic jobs, there is much work to be done beforehand. For non-academic positions, you need to determine your transferable skills and which jobs/fields you want to apply for, create resumes (you might need multiple resumes that target specific jobs/industries/fields), cover letters for each position you want to apply for, and any other materials you may need to submit for consideration (this will vary by field). You may also want to practice your interviewing skills and learn how to negotiate a job offer. To add to this, you may also want to conduct information interviews with professionals in your desired field to learn more about what jobs and companies are a good fit for you.
  • For academic positions, you must create a CV, statement of research interests, teaching philosophy, teaching portfolio (depending on institution type), cover letters, writing samples, and sample syllabi, among other possible materials. You will also want to practice teaching demonstrations and giving a research or craft talk. You will also want to prepare yourself for interviews and negotiating a job offer. Keep in mind that as you prepare these materials, you will also be finishing your dissertation. Effective and careful planning is essential to landing a job and finishing your dissertation. The academic job market is increasingly competitive. Each year, there are fewer tenure track positions available and often more than 200 qualified candidates apply for a single position. For the average academic job seeker, it takes three job cycles to land a tenure track position. For some, it is closer to five job cycles. Planning from day one of your graduate program and learning how to balance this with your work is crucial to your success.
  • Bottom line: it is important to begin your job preparation and search as soon as possible


What qualifies members of the Career Center staff to assist students from advanced degree programs?

  • Our Career Coaches have completed specialized master's degrees in fields like education and mental health counseling. We do our best to stay up-to-date on the latest research and maintain memberships in professional organizations like the National Career Development Association and the Graduate Career Consortium.
  • The word “coach” in our job title is intentional. Our role is to support you in your career development. We can help you identify your skills and strengths, direct you to reputable informational resources, and assist you in setting goals. Your skills, interests and priorities are unique. We can’t do occupational research, networking, or find jobs for you, but we can use our particular knowledge and experience to help you more effectively achieve your goals.


Can’t my program faculty help me?

  • Your faculty members are experts in their fields but they may not be experts on job search strategies or career counseling. Furthermore, depending on your professor’s personal history, they may have little experience with a non-academic job search. It is also wise to receive multiple opinions and consult with more than just your advisor as you begin your job search.
  • Your advisor may also be too busy to help you with a personalized job search. Whereas at the Career Center you can meet individually with a Career Coach who will address your concerns and help you develop a unique plan to achieve your career goals.


Do PhDs have career options outside of the academy?

  • PhDs have ample and exciting opportunities outside of the academy. Your Master’s Degree or PhD is proof that you have engaged in a rigorous and thorough intellectual experience. It also shows that you can commit to and persevere through long-term projects (such as your thesis or dissertation). Combined with the unique knowledge and skills you have from you discipline, employers are increasingly looking to employ candidates with advanced degrees.
  • Through using our Career Exploration Tools and meeting with a Career Counselor, you can identify the unique skills you possess and how these can be transferred into rewarding careers that complement your lifestyle and goals.


Are there really challenging, creative and impactful positions for people with advanced degrees outside of a university setting?

  • Yes, there are many challenging, creative, and impactful positions for people with advanced degrees beyond academia. By looking beyond academia, you may find a career that is not only a better fit for your personal and professional goals but also less precarious and more lucrative. Despite what many may tell you in the Ivory Tower, there is life outside of academia and it could be better than what you’ve imagined.
  • There are many myths about getting a job outside of academia with a Master’s or PhD. Despite any rumors or myths, remember that there are thousands of people who have graduated with advanced degrees who have gone onto successful and fulfilling careers outside of academia. Just look at VersatilePhd.com which contains profiles of people who have transitioned out of the academy.


Will it look bad if I don’t get a job as a tenured professor? Will that mean I’ve wasted my time getting a graduate degree?

  • Since the 1970s the shrinking number of academic jobs and shift from full-time positions to part-time positions in the University has become widely known. Not getting a job as a tenured professor isn’t “bad.” It’s normal. A large percentage of PhD holders (some estimate nearly half) work beyond the academy. A large number of employers also find the unique skills advance degree holders to have (the ability to think critically, work on long term projects, and conduct research, among other attributes) to be highly desirable.
  • While this is a very personal matter, remember that you have gained unique skills and experiences during your time as a graduate student. With some planning, strategic thinking, and help from the Career Center, you can translate your academic experience into an exciting job or career.


Will my advisor “disown me” if I tell them I want to work outside of academia?

  • With the academic job market currently flooded with PhDs and few tenure track positions open, your advisors and faculty are not blind to the academic job market. Professors and mentors generally want to see their students and mentees succeed. If you want to work outside of academia, this is not a mistake or something to be ashamed of. There are many rewarding careers beyond academia. Yet if your advisor is not helpful to you, you still have many resources available to you as a UCSC graduate student. Make an appointment for a confidential meeting with one of our Career Counselors and seek out alumni from your programs who have transitioned out of academia.
  • Additionally through using tools like Versatile PhD or networking with your peers and community, you can see examples of your peers and professionals who have transitioned outside of academia.


What about the fact that I don’t have much “real world” experience?

  • While you may feel that you don’t have “real world” experience, through your Master’s or PhD you have a valuable set of skills that can be translated into positions beyond the academy. Through using resources at the Career Center and identifying your unique set of skills and needs you can find a career that utilizes your background.  


But my work is really, really specialized.

  • At the Career Center, we help you focus on major issues within career development and the job search process. Regardless of the field you are entering, knowing how to effectively network, create job application materials, identify skills and jobs, market yourself to employers, interview, and negotiate a job offer are all crucial to your success. These areas are the same no matter what your field or speciality is. Career Counselors also have ample experience in working with students in highly specialized fields. Helping graduate students transition from the academy into the workforce is our specialty.


Ready to meet with a Career Coach to start your Dual Career Path preparation? Make an appointment with us today!