Ph.D. Career Ladder Program: A grassroots approach to career development

 In 2018 Abstracts

Ph.D. Career Ladder Program: A grassroots approach to career development

Kathleen Flint Ehm and Nancy Goroff; Stony Brook University

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Stony Brook University’s Ph.D. Career Ladder Program, developed by graduate students, for graduate students, serves as a nimble and cost-effective national model for Ph.D. career development and exploration. The Ph.D. Career Ladder Program (PCLP) is a peer-led career mentoring program that takes small groups of graduate students and postdocs through a monthly curriculum of self-assessment, career exploration and preparation for a job search. Because the program is grassroots and peer-to-peer, it creates a supportive, learner-centered space for exploration of career paths inside and outside of academia and encourages persistence toward students’ career goals. Moreover, the limited cost and overhead to administer the program makes it highly adaptable to a range of institutional types and cultures. A pilot train-the-trainer program provides cohort support for the PCLP peer leaders and a model for institutionalization. A robust assessment of the program is underway to measure its impact on participants and the effectiveness of its programmatic elements. Key measures include enhancing students’ confidence in their career prospects, transferable skills and job-search skills, broadening students’ career horizons to include the pursuit of careers beyond academia, as well as research-grounded psychosocial variables such as shifts in scientific identity and perceived identity compatibility with diverse career pathways. This program is supported through a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) award in the Innovations of Graduate Education (IGE) Track to Stony Brook University, which focuses on expanding, improving and institutionalizing the Ph.D. Career Ladder Program, and testing its effectiveness as a career development tool.

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