Tracking Careers After a PhD

by Tanya Brown

One of the many questions I asked myself during my PhD training was “What kind of job will I get once I graduate?” This is quite a common question with many possible answers. With so many PhDs hitting the job market, where do all of us go?

It can be quite a challenge to figure out how to answer this question. Where do students go once they graduate? What do postdocs do once they are ready to move on? This sort of information would be useful for prospective graduate students and postdocs to know before they tackle academia. Career outcomes can reflect, at least in part, institutional training goals and values. Trainees deserve to know the environment that they are entering before devoting years to graduate school or postdoctoral training. Since this sort of tracking information is required for NIH training grants, it seems like this type of information is collected, at least by some programs, but may be challenging to sort through and organize at departmental and institutional levels. Communicating the results then presents a whole other set of challenges.   Continue reading

Should I stay or should I go, now?

by M. Wallingford

Author with family at West Seattle“I want to go swim, mom! Let’s go!!” It’s mid January and I’m taking a walk with my four year old son who LOVES the beach.  Instead of saying no, I tell him that I don’t want to swim because it’s too cold. “You can go ahead and take off your socks and shoes and put your toes in, but it’s pretty cold”.  He does – giggles and squeals of excitement emanate through Madrona Park. He runs back, sheepishly telling me that it’s too cold for swimming and puts his socks and shoes back on, but he has a huge grin on his face.  We keep walking and meet my partner who has our baby bundled up in a stroller.  Continue reading

The many ways STEP helped my academic career

by Mikaela Stewart

I applied to the STEP program to gain teaching experience. What I got was so much more: a reassurance that I would thrive at a primarily undergraduate institution, tools that I still use for developing effective and fun courses, and active-learning techniques that give me energy in the classroom. STEP really helped me make my career goal into a reality.

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Every piece counts: Skills I gained from STEP helped my job search in unexpected ways

by Patrick Nygren

Like many who start PhD programs and go on to postdoc positions, I was focused on the academic world, and the big question for me was: teaching or research? As my projects in the lab progressed, I found myself much more interested in communicating with others about the background and implications of my research rather than doing the research itself. I applied for the STEP program, reasoning that if I enjoyed conveying information, teaching might be a good fit. But teaching is so much more than conveying information. In the first STEP meetings we learned about Bloom’s taxonomy of cognition and how to help facilitate deep engagement—rather than just receiving information—with concepts. When my group and I started developing and planning our course, I quickly found that creating curriculum involves thinking strategically about how to be clear and concise, yet leave space for deep insights and student engagement.

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