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Stony Brook Hosts Graduate Career Consortium

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Reps Share Best Graduate Student Practices

Left to right: Nadine Dalrymple, Marianna Savoca, Alfreda James, Jessica Joseph, Katy Ehm, Wali Karzai and Nancy Goroff (photo by John Griffin).

Stony Brook University hosted its first Northeast regional meeting of the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC) on December 13 at the Charles B. Wang Center. The GCC is made up of a network of professionals who support career development for doctoral students and postdoctoral scholars. Stony Brook’s Career Center became a member of the GCC in 2002.

At the consortium 24 representatives from Stony Brook, Brown University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, The New York Academy of Sciences, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University learned what the other institutions are doing to improve graduate student professional development.

Nine professionals represented Stony Brook, including graduate student Jessica Joseph, an assistant at the Career Center, and Nadine Dalyrmple, a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology.

Those in attendance said they found the meeting to be useful because successful practices used at one institution often can be implemented at another. Stony Brook Career Center Assistant Director Alfreda James knows this firsthand — she recently went to another GCC conference and learned about a competition at the University of Queensland in Australia that was later initiated at Vanderbilt University in which graduate students presented three-minute versions of their theses using “language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience.”

James said that Stony Brook is planning to launch a similar competition this spring.

The Career Center’s popular résumé boot camp program is another example of GCC influence at Stony Brook. According to James, students forward the résumés they plan to use for job searches to the Career Center and prospective employers give “unscripted, real-time comments” about the submitted documents. In this program, students get to view the résumés of other students, hear employers’ critiques, and understand a résumé from a recruiter’s perspective. Representatives from Broadridge Financial Solutions (Lake Success, NY) and The Science People (Melville, NY) have participated in Stony Brook’s résumé boot camp program.

“Graduate students like to think that employers don’t care about style or format and that their degree is enough, but if they do a substandard job of communicating, it can hurt their employment chances,” said James.

Dalrymple said she was grateful to have been invited to the meeting because she was able to gain perspective on what other institutions are doing in terms of career development for graduate students and postdocs.

“I saw this as a great opportunity to network and learn more about the career counseling profession, and I got ideas based on events held at other institutions,” she said.

She added that through participation in the consortium, Stony Brook is placing an emphasis on career development for these students.

“The University seems very aware of the changing face of higher-level science education in these tough economic times of declining scientific funding,” Dalrymple said.

Joseph, a first-year student in the Higher Education Administration master’s program, had interned at the Career Center during her senior year and had experience working with undergraduate students, but she didn’t know much about graduate career services.

“Hearing directly from graduate career counselors from a variety of schools was a great introduction to the field,” she said. “It was nice to hear that some best practices for graduate students were similar to best practices for undergraduate students, such as networking events and providing contact with alumni.”

— Glenn Jochum

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