Professional and Career Skills Development

You have probably heard that the development of professional and career skills (PCS) is essential to the formation of well-rounded graduate students, but why is that? PCS training that complements academic growth and disciplinary expertise has multiple benefits. PCS are not only important to increasing your career mobility and employability after grad school, but also to enhancing your overall student experience and achieving your personal and professional goals. Graduate students who work on developing and strengthening their PCS are more confident when they apply for jobs and are better equipped to transition from academia to other sectors. Finally, developing PCS also sets you on a path of self-motivated learning that can last a lifetime.

A plethora of career opportunities await you!  We would love to help you navigate the world of PCS and help you achieve your career goals. We invite you to explore the resource options below.


CBS Resources

1. CBS Grad Chats Series

This series covers topics related to professional skills and graduate school in general. All CBS graduate students are welcome in-person or online. Workshops take place in the Fall and Winter, the second Tuesday of every month from 12 to 1 pm. Students receive details a couple of weeks before each workshop, so keep your eyes peeled for our emails! Questions? Comments? Please email us.

2. Careers in Biology (CIB)

  • What? An opportunity to learn from professionals who hold graduate degrees and work in various sectors (R&D, education, management, sci comm, business). Students network and get tips and tricks on how to enter and succeed in the workforce, with an emphasis on non-academic sectors.
  • Who? Organized by a CBS grad student committee with oversight of the ADR office. A call for volunteers for the committee goes out in the late Fall. 
  • How? Students can attend their preferred session(s) and interact with the speakers.  
  • Where? Virtually and in-person.
  • When? Annually, at the end of the winter semester. May 9, 2024.

3. Graduate Student Symposium (GSS)

  • What? A symposium for all CBS graduate students that fosters networking and presentations skillsin a friendly and professional setting. The event usually features keynote speakers, a complimentary lunch, and a grad student social at the end. Faculty and staff are also welcome to attend the presentations.
  • Who? Organized by a CBS grad student committee with oversight of the ADR office. A call for volunteers for the committee goes out in the late Fall. 
  • How? Students register like they would register for a conference. Students can present either a poster or talk and are required to submit an abstract. Students can also compete for best presenter prizes.   
  • Where? In the Science Complex, typically the Atrium for poster session, complementary lunch, and keynote speakers, and classrooms for concurrent talk sessions.
  • When? Annually, at the end of the winter semester. April 29, 2024. 

4. SCRIBE (Students Communicating Research in Biology Education)

  • What? A CBS research communication and knowledge mobilization program that offers grad students the opportunity to polish their writing skills by producing short stories (500-800 words) about CBS research articles. SCRIBE is part of the Professional and Career Development Record (PCDR).
  • Who? Powered by grad students and organized by the ADR office. A call for writers goes out every year in the Fall. 
  • How? Students register by the deadline and attend two training session. Students then sign up for stories, interview faculty/postdocs, prepare a draft, get feedback, and produce the final story. Students get paid as well! All stories get posted online as part of our SCRIBE Research Highlights and in CBS social media channels.   
  • Where? This is entirely virtual, except for interviews and training sessions, which can be in-person.
  • When? The program runs throughout the year.

5. CBS Postdoc Summer Training

  • What? Launched in S23, this is a series of sessions that guide postdocs/research associates in preparing academic job applications. The series covers academic CVs and cover letters, academic interviews, and independent writing drop-in time. We also invite recent faculty members to provide advice and feedback to postdocs as they work on their applications. Senior PhD students with an interest in an academic path are also welcome! 
  • Who? Organized by the ADR office. 
  • How? Postdocs and graduate students receive an email announcing the sessions at least two weeks in advance. 
  • Where? This event is hybrid, with in-person sessions in the Science Complex and the option to join on Zoom. 
  • When? Annually, usually in July and August.

6. Job Portals

We have produced a list of job portals that regularly post academic and non-academic job opportunities in the biological sciences. Please feel free to download this document to explore career options and let us know if you would like to see additional job portals included here!

 


University of Guelph Resources

6. Career Advising- One-on-One Sessions

If you are interested in talking to a Career Advisor, please reach out directly to CBS' career advisor, Julia Leary, or book an appointment through Experience Guelph

 

8. Career Advising- Experiential Learning Hub Modules on Courselink 

  • What? These are modules on Career Advising available on CourseLink, and were designed to help students access pertinent career development information whenever they want.
  • Who? The program is developed and delivered by the Experiential Learning Hub. All students have access.
  • How? Students can log into CourseLink and take modules at their own pace. Modules are: Career Planning and Exploration; Networking and Job Search; Resume CVS's and Cover Letters; Interviews; and, Further Education Options. 
  • Where? To find and take these modules, follow the steps outlined in the Career Advising Modules on CourseLink page.

 

9. Grad Pathways

  • What? Grad Pathways is the University of Guelph hub of academic and professional skills development for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
  • Who? It is administered by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies in collaboration with on-campus and off-campus partners. 
  • How? Grad Pathways identifies six skill domains: Communication, Teaching, Leadership, Research & Analysis, Your Career, and Wellness. The program offers: 1) a list of opportunities within each domain, 2) a calendar of workshops/events for grad students, and 3) a non-credit Skills Development Course that allows students to earn a Record of Completion for attending 8 workshops spread across the skills domains, and then completing a short task for each.  
  • Where? For more details check the links above or contact gradpath@uoguelph.ca.

 

10. Individual Development Plan (IDP)

  • What? The IDP is a guide to help you align your personal and professional goals with your academic expectations and responsibilities. In other words, it can help you tailor your graduate experience to your future career goals.
  • Who? The IDP is used across many universities in Canada. At UofG, it is promoted by the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and several departments and colleges. Graduate students work on their own and with a mentor (e.g., advisor, UofG staff member) to set and discuss goals and assess student progress towards their goals. 
  • How? Students, with the support of their mentors, complete the IDP which consists of seven steps: 1) assess your skills; 2) explore careers; 3) set your goals; 4) discuss with a mentor; 5) track your success; 6) revise and repeat; and, 7) sell your achievements.
  • Where? To download IDP templates and guidelines, please visit the IDP site. For more details email gradpath@uoguelph.ca.

 

11. Office of Teaching and Learning

  • What? The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) provides hands-on and community-based teaching development opportunities for grad students. These introduce participants to evidence-informed strategies and ideas for learner-centred instructional development as well as for implementation in their reflective teaching practices. They also offer a graduate course in university teaching.
  • Who? The program is developed and delivered by the Office of Teaching and Learning.
  • How? Students participate at their own pace and based on their own interests.
  • Where? Visit the OTL's Graduate Student Programming page to learn more and register for training activities.

 

12. Library Workshops

  • What? The library offers a variety of workshops on topics such as data and statistical analysis, use of social media, creation of video and infographics, writing (grammar and style), GIS, EAL, and presentation skills, among others.
  • Who? These workshops are designed, developed, and facilitated by learning and media professionals from the McLaughlin library.
  • How? Students can explore the calendar of events and sign up for sessions they are interested in.
  • Where? Check out the Library event calendar for upcoming opportunities.

 

13. Skills for Research Impact

  • What? In this series of workshops, you can learn how to increase the impact of your research. It covers topics such as knowledge mobilization, knowledge translation, use of inforgraphics, and clear language writing.
  • Who? These workshops are designed, developed, and facilitated by the Ontario Agri-Food Innovation Alliance together with the Community Engaged Scholarship Institite (CESI). 
  • How? Students can explore the calendar of events and register for the sessions they are interested in.
  • Where? Check out the Skills for Research Impact page for upcoming opportunities.

 

14. Research & Project Management Course

  • What? This course introduces graduate students to the management of scholarly and research projects, including administrative and ethical concerns. 
  • Who? This course is organized by the Office of Research. All grad students can participate, but registration is required. 
  • How? Students attend 11 one-hour session online and complete at least 9 for a Letter of Recognition.
  • Where? Check out the Research & Project Management Course page for details.

 

15. Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

  • What? 3MT® is a university-wide competition for graduate students in which participants present their research, creative activity, and its wider impact in 3 minutes or less to a panel of non-specialist judges. The challenge is to present complex research in an engaging, accessible and compelling way, using only one slide.
  • Who? Grad students are eligible if they are in a thesis or MRP program, have made progress with their research, and haven't graduated. Students receive details by email in the winter semester.  
  • How? Students register for their College Heat, after which a winner and runner-up move to the UofG Final. The winner of the UofG Final goes to the Provincial Final. Usually, training workshops are also offered before the college heats. The ADR office will email students every February with details.
  • Where? These events are in-person and take place between March and May. Please see OGPS' 3MT site for information on eligibility, evaluation criteria, registration, and examples of past presentations.

 


External Resources

16. Beyond the Professoriate

  • What? Beyond the Professoriate (formerly known as Aurora) is a professional development e-learning platform where postdocs and graduate students can explore career options and learn job search strategies to secure employment in academia and beyond.
  • Who? The platform is administered by Beyond the Professoriate, and subscribed by several universities across North America, including UofG. 
  • How? The site offers a video library featuring advice from graduate students who work in all sectors: academia, government, higher education administration, industry, and non-profits. There are also digital resources on PCS available 24/7 and a 4-step plan to explore both career and professional careers.
  • Where? You can log in using your UofG credentials. If you run intro trouble logging in, please email gradonln@uoguelph.ca.

 

17. Graduate and Postdoctoral Development Network (GPDN)

  • What? The GDPN is a network that aims to educate and inspire Canadian graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to develop and take action to achieve current and future career goals. They host an annual career symposium in the Fall.
  • Who? The GDPN is led by career development professionals from the postsecondary sector, and houses a variety of Standing Committees, Working Groups, and Communities of Practice. 
  • How? The GDPN offers an annual career symposium (usually around October) that graduate students and post-docs across colleges can attend at no cost. GDPN also has a series of articles with advise on careers that might be of interest.
  • Where? You can check out the GDPN’s available resources and symposium page for more information. You can also follow them on Twitter @GPDNCanada.

 


Interested in PCS that you don’t see listed in the links above? Want to chat more about PCS? We encourage you to reach out to us directly (email cbsadr@uoguelph.ca) to discuss how we can best help you!