Graduate students live in something of a pressure cooker. While working in academic areas they love with professors they admire can be very rewarding, many experience high levels of anxiety.
Their greatest fear is successfully finishing the degree, especially that major research project on which most will rise or fall.
But then there’s putting the degree to use and finding employment, especially given the few academic jobs that are likely to be available in the present economic climate.
grad launch, a blog by Brock English professor and former Graduate Studies dean Marilyn Rose, is designed to address this second fear, which research tells us lurks in the psyche and haunts students even as their work – and debts – pile up.
What if I can’t find a job in my field? A well-paying job? A job that makes me happy? What if I can’t find any job at all to begin with?
grad launch has twice-weekly posts that speak to professional development and career planning. Rose initiated the blog to raise awareness among graduate students of the importance of beginning to design a career trajectory while engaged in master’s or PhD studies.
She chose the blog format for its ease of use, its attractiveness to graduate students given their expertise with social media, and its potential for linking students to resources of particular use to them as individuals with special interests.
Rose says there is so much information available to students, when it comes to graduate studies and career development, that it’s potentially overwhelming.
“I think of grad launch as a portal designed to save graduate students time in searching for information and to direct them to sources they may not otherwise know about,” she says.
Since launching last July, grad launch has developed a healthy mix of posts – tips, advice and encouragement from career professionals and graduate students themselves. Rose says she bases posts on an eclectic list of sources, such as newspapers, academic publications, online publications and the websites of career coaches.
“It’s a kind of detective work. Basically I comb the internet daily for things I think may interest graduate students. I use my Twitter account to pull in all sorts of leads, and use my research skills to follow whatever lines of investigation come to light. You never know what will turn up. Almost every day interesting bits and pieces come my way.”
Rose hopes the blog will support the Faculty of Graduate Studies and recent investments it has made to provide programming to Brock graduate students through Vitae Essential Skills. FGS Dean Mike Plyley welcomes the independent effort, and says it’s like a blogger in residence for Vitae.
“Many of the posts touch on the career competencies that Vitae is basing its workshops and activities on,” says Plyley.
“It’s good to have many voices supporting our message about the importance of professional development. The more that graduate students hear that message, the more interested they are in attending our programming and building their skills. We are making the investment in Vitae to support the future success of our students in academic and non-academic careers.